Innovation and startup in Sicily: Paola di Rosa during the Workshop Made OF Sicily

Here you can find and interview with Paola di Rosa, the first among the different mentors that will speak during the workshop aimed at young people about innovation and startup in Sicily that will be held during the event “Made OF Sicily”. The topic of the first workshop is “The design of a new business and the business model canvas”.

Hi Paola, tell us something about yourself: What do you deal with?
What has been your path like?innovazione e startup in Sicilia Paola Di Rosa
I have been working as a firm legal expert for several years and I dedicated myself to the legal compliance of startup and to the financing for innovations (angel investing and vc). I am also a startup advisor and I have been taking care of the formation of the human capital in the South of Italy, which is still not used to think according to the entrepreneurial logics. Indeed, I am the responsible in a Startuplab created by AtFactory (of which I am founder) in collaboration with Ersu Palermo (Regional authority for the study right). In addition, I am also event manager for several formats for the spread of the business mindset and of the culture of innovation, such as the Hackathon (covering specific topics such as healthcare, fintech, food and much more) and the Lean Startup Machine Workshop, the Startup Weekend and the Digital Lab. I also have a collaboration with SELLALAB, the most important Italian fintech accelerator, which I help in the connection with the talents from the South.

What has led you to join the adventure of AtFactory?
As I was saying before I have been working as a firm legal expert and since the beginning I have always worked with firms from the North of Italy. This happens, as in the South there is not an entrepreneurial mindset. This for me mainly happens because of a lack in the formation offer that allows young people to develop the so-called business mindset. In Sicily there aren’t many businesses as everybody is looking for a job in the public sector and nobody has the courage to take a risk, despite of the many economic opportunities also in more traditional sectors, such as tourism, culture or agrifood. However, during my experience in Turin or Milan, I have always found people coming from the South: this shows how the problem doesn’t rely in our capability of making business but in a socio-economic and institutional net that lacks something. I created AtFactory to fill this cultural gap.

Why have you decided to carry out your activity in Sicily? innovazione e startup in Sicilia Paola Di Rosa HackathonWhich are the obstacles that you have encountered and which are the advantages?
I would like to answer to you with the same words of a post published some years ago on “Che Futuro”: “I am Sicilian, I am stubborn and so I make innovation in a feminine way in Palermo”. I have always found the statement “this cannot be done” unbearable, as, as stated earlier, the Sicilians are very successful outside our island. I would like to repeat it once again, it is not a problem of people, but it is a problem of wrong rules and behaviors. I believe to be (or at least I aspire to be) a changemaker and that is why I decided to stay in Sicily. For sure, this is a very complicated and long path, which sometimes is also draining as there is the lack of this socioeconomic fabric that would make it easier to make people understand the type of work that we are carrying on with AtFactory. But this is also what makes it more interesting and stimulating, mainly when, after a Hackathon for example, the participants thank us for giving them the same opportunities that are given to those who live in Milan or London, for giving them the opportunity to work in an “agile” way, in team with many complementary professionals and with a practical approach that is hard to find in the universities and to network with important companies from the entrepreneurial landscape from the North.

How would you like your activity to evolve in the following years?
It is not a hope, but more an objective: to attract important companies that want to invest on the human capital from the South and contextually want to generate a network of young people (and also less young) interested in creating startup and in innovating the PMI of the territory.
Until now I managed to convince SELLALAB from the Gruppo Banca Sella Holding, which invests and supports the projects of digital economy. I hope that the young people from Sicily can catch such an important opportunity.

innovazione e startup in Sicilia Paola Di Rosa hackathon healthcareThe aim of AtFactory, as well as the one of Sicily&Sicilians, is to support young Sicilians who want to make their way thanks to innovative projects: do you have any advice to give to those who feel discouraged for the lack of opportunities in our territory?
As stated before, the problem is to be able to grasp opportunities. I do not believe much in faith and in luck, I believe that each one of us is the maker of his own destiny. For this reason, I always suggest to change the mental attitude with which young people approach to university and to the workshops that we organize, as well as other realities in the territory. Along with a university path, I suggest to place formative formats that have a practical approach, that encourage creativity and the problem solving ability. I also suggest to join in some events, favoring those that give the chance to meet qualified mentors and important companies that are usually recruiting during the workshops as they can see how the young people work. For those who would like to implement innovative projects, managing a Start up Lab myself, I have to suggest to contact us and the network of our partners.

We would like to thank Paola Di Rosa for this interview, if you want to know more about the offered opportunities, we suggest you to visit the website of AtFactory.

If you want to join in our formative meetings, have a look at the program of the event and subscribe 🙂

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