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Spotlight on Italy's innovative start-up ecosystem

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From L-R: His Excellency Nicola Lener and Amedeo Scarpa
Italy is renowned internationally for its excellence in the Biotech, Pharma and Medical Devices sectors.

His Excellency Nicola Lener, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, officially inaugurated the Italian Trade Agency pavilion at Arab Health, along with Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Italian Consul-General in Dubai and Amedeo Scarpa, Italian Trade Commissioner, Dubai Office/UAE, Oman and Pakistan, Italian Trade Agency (ITA). Fifty-one Italian companies, including eight innovative start-ups, were selected by ITA in its official pavilion to be present at Arab Health.

In an interview with the Daily Dose on the sidelines of the show, Lener said: "Italy is showcasing its innovation capacity in the health sector at Arab Health, which is exciting. Italian companies are investing a lot in healthcare, and the government is supporting them. As a result, we have a very innovative ecosystem in Italy with more than 14,000 start-ups supported by the government who plan to invest 1 billion Euros. Italian healthcare start-ups are some of the most innovative in the world. We are showcasing the ideas, projects, and products of eight start-ups here. There are also other 51 Italian companies showcasing their products, equipment and technologies."

He stressed that COVID-19 has turned out to be a significant catalyst for innovation in Italy, not just in healthcare but also in other sectors. These include mobility, environment, technologies such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and energy use. "We are showcasing and investing a lot of resources to foster the use of technology and digitalisation. In fact, digitalisation has been one of the main pillars of our national recovery and resilience plan."

According to Lener, the UAE and Italy have traditionally had very strong economic relations. The trade exchange between the two countries was more than 8 billion Euros in 2020 and increased across all sectors.

Italy is renowned internationally for its excellence in the Biotech, Pharma and Medical Devices sectors, the three major life science sectors. There are currently 4,323 Italian companies operating in the Medical Devices sector with a total value of 16.7 billion Euros, of which 5.7 billion Euros of this were exported in 2020, a 1.2 per cent increase compared to 2019. On the other side, the UAE's Medical Devices market is expected to reach AED 5.6 billion (US$1.5bn) by 2025, with an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4 per cent from 2020, and our manufacturers are in a strong position to support the county's growth.

Scarpa shared that even during the pandemic, the trade relations between Italy and the UAE witnessed significant growth. Highlighting the healthcare sector, he shared that the demand is expected to grow 4.4 per cent each year from now until 2025, specifically for medical devices. Growth will also be seen in the life sciences sector in pharmaceuticals and biotech. "That's why we're here. The demand is there; the Italian offer too, demonstrating the good trade relations between the two countries," he added.

When asked about future plans, Scarpa said that Italy is getting ready to participate at Expo 2020 Dubai, where the theme is "Beauty connects people". "When you say beauty, it is related to healthcare, good food, good style and strong relations. So, we are preparing a great programme for Expo 2020."

He also said that ITA is looking forward to Gitex Future Stars and engaging with the considerable number of incubators in the UAE and want to involve them in the incubation and developing innovative programmes for SMEs and start-ups.

He concluded: "For the first time, Arab Health has made an area dedicated to start-ups from all over the world. Out of these, eight start-ups are from Italy, which means 25 per cent of the total start-ups exhibiting at Aran Health are Italian!

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