An event dedicated to the most innovative business ideas from academic research

Ten years later, the National Innovation Award, Italy's most important and capillary business plan competition promoted by PNICube - the Italian Association of University Incubators - is back in Naples, in collaboration with Naples Federico II University and the Campania NewSteel incubator.

The Award, which is now in its 15th edition, is a competition between creatives, start-uppers and entrepreneurs, who are asked to write a business plan for an innovative idea in the fields of hi-tech, digital, environmental sustainability, health and industry.

Right now, the regional competitions are underway, which will be used to select the 65 finalist projects that will compete for the4 sector prizes of €25,000 each up for the following categories: Industrial, Life Sciences, ICT and Cleantech&Energy.

FS Italiane, a main sponsor of the initiative, will be part of the national jury and will award the prize for the best business plan in the "Industrial" sector (innovative industrial production). With this initiative, FS Italiane confirms its commitment to research and providing genuine support to young creatives whose innovative ideas focus on multimodal and sustainable mobility.

«Encouraging the growth of talent and the development of creativity has always been a fundamental objective for FS Italiane, fully in line with its historical role in the Italian industrial and social panorama», emphasised Carlotta VenturaCommunications Director at FS Italiane. «Today, this goal is facilitated by the digital environment, which offers entirely new and challenging possibilities and scenarios. The partnership with PNICube is a valid part of the process of digitalization that the FS Italiane Group is following with conviction, as one of the enabling levers in the ambitious Industrial Plan brought in for the next 10 years».

The gran finale will be held on 30 November and 1 December, with a program featuring numerous events on the themes of business, innovation and culture, held alongside the awards ceremony.

The winners

The winners were selected from among 65 startup finalists by a qualified panel composed of 28 representatives from the worlds of business, university research and venture capital, based on criteria such as the originality of the business idea, its technical feasibility, interest for investors, the adequacy of the team's skills and attractiveness for the market.

FS Italiane was represented on the panel by Guglielmo Casciaro, Business, Development and Planning Manager at FS Italiane, Gianfranco Pignatone, Strategic Planning Director at Rete Ferroviaria Italiana, and Alessandro Mattei, Corporate, Governance and Business Transformation Manager at Trenitalia.

Franco Stivali, Innovation Manager at FS Italiane, presented the awards.

A total of 1.6 million euros in prizes were awarded: more than 600,000 euros in cash and 1 million in services, offered by the partner universities and incubators in PNICube. Plus, for the first time, in addition to the 4 sector-specific prizes worth 25,000 euros each, the absolute winner was awarded an extra 25,000 euros to reinvest in their own hi-tech activities by FS Italiane. This was an extremely positive sign of the increasing interest in open innovation by companies.

FS Italiane INDUSTRIAL prize (innovative industrial production) and ABSOLUTE WINNER OF THE PNI 2017

OCORE (StartCup Sicily) the company intends to revolutionise the manufacturing industry through 3D printing and robotics, using advanced composite polymeric materials.

Iren prize for CLEANTECH & ENERGY (improving environmental sustainability). Bettery (StartCup Emilia Romagna) has developed and patented NESSOX, the lighter liquid batter that lasts 5 times longer than the best commercially available batteries, thanks to the use of light elements, lithium and oxygen.

Clinic Center prize for LIFE SCIENCES (improving personal health). RY Goldzip (StartCup Calabria) The team formulated a cream containing the active ingredients of PGI Tropea red onions from Calabria that can considerably reduce healing time for ulcers, without requiring further antibiotic or anti-inflammatory treatment.

PwC Italia ICT prize (information technology and new media). Ermes Cyber Security  (StartCup Piedmont Valle d’Aosta): Starting from the international emergency of corporate hacking, the startup designed a solution capable of completely blocking data loss caused by "web trackers" and ensuring total protection for every single device, thanks to patented algorhythms based on machine learning, big data and artificial intelligence.

The PNI 2017 also saw two Mentions and several Special Prizes awarded:

Special Mention for “Social Innovation” – Global Social Venture Competition: for the best "Social Innovation" project, based on the relative criteria set out in regulations for Innovative Startups. Won by IF’s ICT for Families (StartCup Veneto)* which was directly admitted to the final phase of the Global Social Venture Competition, held in collaboration with Startup Initiative.

Special mention for “Equal Opportunities” – MIP Milan Polytechnic set up to promote female entrepreneurship: the first prize of 10,000 euros went to HoMoLoG (StartCup Lazio)*, the second prize of 6,000 euros went to SIXXI Factory (StartCup Lazio)*.

Special “Innovation Award” – awarded by the Department for International Trade (DIT) of the British Embassy and won by AquaSmart (StartCup Piedmont Valle d’Aosta).

UniCredit Start Lab Special Prize won by Addax Biosciences (StartCup Piedmont Valle d’Aosta)

Boost Heroes Special Prize won by Ermes Cyber Security (StartCup Piedmont Valle d’Aosta)

“Health Care Innovation” AIIC Prize, offered by the Associazione Italiana Ingegneri Clinici for developing innovative technological solutions for healthcare services, won by Quick Custom Plastics (StartCup Trentino), Imagensys (StartCup Lazio), Wound Viewer (StartCup Piedmont Valle D'Aosta), PD-Watch (StartCup Basilicata)*.

SMAU Special Prize for innovative business ideas in any production sector, won by R-FACTORY (StartCup Campania).

Prize winners and special mentions

ADDAX BIOSCIENCES (StartCup Piedmont Valle d’Aosta): The startup intends to revolutionise the market for histological fixing agents by introducing ADDAX, an innovative, non-toxic and non-carcinogenic product that allows for optimal fixation of structural and molecular components.

IF'S - ICT for Families (StartCup Veneto): proposes ADA (Assisting Daily life Activities), a virtual coaching system based on smart objects to support the elderly in their daily lives and allow for remote monitoring by family members.

HoMoLoG (StartCup Lazio): HoMoLoG's mission is to change the way pharmacological and medical research arrives at treatments.

Imagensys (StartCup Lazio): an innovative CNR startup aiming to introduce a new class of compact, easy to use scintigraphic tools that can provide rapid, high quality precision imaging for locating tumours, for use in both diagnosis and surgery.

PD-Watch (StartCup Basilicata): an abbreviation of “Parkinson’s Disease Watch”, this project is for the creation and commercialisation of a medical device to support the diagnosis of the disease in subjects at risk and identify the best specific therapy possible.

Quick Custom Plastics (StartCup Trentino): an innovative technology for creating fast, low cost, made-to-measure plastic orthopaedic supports.

R-FACTORY (StartCup Campania): develops and commercialises integrated tags for tracking goods.

SIXXI Factory (StartCup Lazio): aiming to exploit the heritage of great 20th century engineering and promote interest in STEAM subjects, this startup sells an online catalogue of innovative, scientific construction games (SIXXIGames) for self-production or "on demand" products.

Wound Viewer (StartCup Piedmont Valle D'Aosta): a medical device used to automatically acquire and process images of cutaneous ulcers in just a couple of minutes, using an artificial intelligence algorhythm (AI).