THE NEW ITALIAN MINISTRY OF INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY AND DIGITALIZATION

The news is already out: the first Italian Council of Ministers of Conte bis Government convened last 5th September 2019, thereafter the ritual oath. The novelty is the new Italian Ministry of Innovation Technology and Digitalization, led by a woman, Paola Pisano.

Twenty-one ministers have been selected: 10 from Movimento 5 Stelle, 9 from Partito Democratico, 1 from Liberi e Uguali and 1 technician.

The new Ministry of Innovation Technology and Digitalization is a minister without portfolio, it means that it has not its own resources (such as the Ministry of Relations with the Parliament, the Ministry of Public Administration, the Ministry for the South, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport, the Ministry of Equal Opportunities and Family and the Ministry of European Affairs).

Its main aim will be to define a uniform strategy to modernise Italy, in harmony with the other European Member states.

WHO IS PAOLA PISANO?

The new Innovation Technology and Digitalization Department will be led by Paola Pisano (M5S), born in 1977, she is already the innovation council member for the Municipality of Turin and smart city expert.

From Council member to Minister of Innovation. An interesting challenge was entrusted to Paola Pisano: enabling Italy to bridge the technology gap and planning new business models, in order to carry out the digital transformation of the country and to make up for delay of the international standards given by European Commission.

After the oath and the first meeting of the Council of Ministers, the new minister Paola Pisano claimed, on social media, to be grateful for this opportunity and honoured to have the possibility to contribute to the technological development of Italy.

CURIOSITIES ABOUT THE NEW MINISTER

Paola Pisano is fondly defined “the drone’s lady”, for the projects she launched when she was Council member of Turin, concerning the use of drones for safety and monitoring of infrastructures. 

The new minister of innovation is also professor of Innovation Management at University of Turin and director of the multidisciplinary centre of Technology Innovation. Moreover, from 2013 she is president of “Commissione Aziende” of the Computer Science Department (Italian company commission of Computer Science Department) of University of Turin.

She has 70 international publications linked to innovation and business models.  Furthermore, she wrote a book about innovation management titled: “Managing innovation: creare, gestire e diffondere innovazione nei sistemi relazionali” (Managing innovation: creating, managing and sharing innovation in relational systems).

In conclusion, Paola Pisano, with a doctorate in Business Economy at University of Turin and a PhD thesis on “How to manage innovation within the company”, seems to have a respectable curriculum, relevant with the issues she will manage with this new role.

THE LOCAL COUNCILLOR OF PAOLA PISANO IN TURIN

Thanks also to the work of Paola Pisano, Turin is currently one of the most digitalized Italian cities and one of the few Italian cities which is experimenting the new frontiers of mobility.

As Council member, Paola Pisano launched many projects, such as the experimentation of autonomous driving cars, or several tests on RoboTo, a bar in which for three months cocktails were prepared and served by robots! She attempted to attract companies, funds and investments through the launch of the Torino City Lab platform, to foster the partnerships with companies interested to experiment their new technologies in the city.

In 2018, for the Saint John’s Eve in Turin, she decided to replace traditional fireworks for 200 drones that sailed the Piedmont’s skies.

In this regards, in a past interview for Agi (Italian News Agency), Pisano listed all the positive characteristics of drones:

  • They are easy to use for the infrastructures' maintenance;
  • They can go around the city taking up small space;
  • They can give an important support in case of problems or accidents in places not easily accessible by man.

IS PAOLA PISANO THE RIGHT CHOICE?

Someone could ask if Paola Pisano is the right choice for the new Ministry of Innovation Technology and Digitalization. The support she gave during her work at the Council of Turin seems to provide a positive answer to this question.

In 2018, Digitalic Mag magazine named Paola Pisano “Digiwoman”, that is the most influent woman in the digital field. In the same year, she underlined the importance of digitalizing the public administration sector and of implementing the 5G, in collaboration with TIM (Italian telecommunications company).

Her passion for the digital world, together with her will to keep studying it, led her to refuse the invitation to run for the last European elections (in May 2019), preferring to maintain her position as Innovation Council Member of Turin.

However, is the Innovation Technology and Digitalization Department really new? Or are its origins elder?

TRACE THE HISTORY: THE INNOVATION TECHNOLOGY DEPARTMENT

As mentioned above, with Conte Bis Government this new department connected to digital innovation was born. Probably it is not well-known that this Ministry has some predecessors.

The first Ministry linked to Research and Innovation in the digital field was created with the aim of defining and performing politics for the development of information society and innovation technology, both in the private and public sector.

In spite of its purpose, the Ministry had only a secondary role in the governmental scenario. In fact, at the beginning it was consulted only for reforms and innovations in the public administration sector.

For this reason, during the Berlusconi IV Government the Ministry of Innovation Technology was joined with the Public Affairs Department, becoming the Ministry of Public Administration and Innovation. During Monti Government, it was again separated and entrusted to the minister Francesco Profumo and afterwards it was joined with the Agency for Digital Italy.

With Conte I Government, the Digital Transformation Department (DTD) was established, with the objective of carrying out the Digital Agenda (2017-2019), and having the same competences of the previous Innovation Technology Department. The Digital Transformation Department was appointed to support the Prime Minister “in the promotion and coordination of those Government activities aimed to define a uniform strategy for digital transformation and country modernisation through digital technologies”. This department will be in operation from January 2020.

During Conte Bis Government the new Ministry of Innovation Technology and Digitalization was created, that should merge the tasks of the Innovation and Digitalization Office inside the Ministry of Public Administration and the tasks of the previous Digital Transformation Department.

WHICH ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR DIGITAL INNOVATION?

The new Government has just taken office and the importance given to digital issues raises high hope, especially thanks to the expertise and the determination of the new minister Paola Pisano.

The programme of the new Government includes 26 items and some of them are linked to the Digital Agenda, but they are still not enough for the digitalization of the country. The main interest is performing a project of innovation and digitalization of the Public Administration. This is a common purpose in many political programmes in Italy and Europe, but in Italy is still difficult to implement.

In the draft of the new Government programme, there is also a reference to the concept of digital citizenship, in the framework of the SPID project. This seems to be the first step to recognise, in the future, to each citizen the right of access to the network and the ease of access to the online services that the PA will bestow. The challenge is not easy at all.

From the initial work of Giuseppe Conte, it seems clear his will to make a change in this field, establishing a dedicated ministry and department. 

The minister Pisano will handle mainly the digital transformation of the Public Administration sector and the Innovation Fund (created through the initiative of the Minister Luigi Di Maio, but still not in operation). There are still many challenges in the digital field, which involve other ministries. For example, the Ministry of Economic Development has to deal with the problem of broadband and Industry 4.0.

The Agency for Digital Italy, a technical agency of the Council Presidency, will keep supporting the Government. In this way, it will try to ensure the achievement of the objectives of the Italian Digital Agenda and it will contribute to the spread of information and communication technologies, fostering research and innovation and economic development of Italy.

The new Conte Bis Government seems willing to make a difference, achieving the technology transfer of the Italian Public Administration.

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