Mr. Valenti: originator of Imola’s packaging valley district and tireless innovator

cover foto

An article by Slobodan Ocokoljic

slobodan

problem solving pulsar

I have met Mr. Dante Valenti while working as interpreter for his company, the Tek in Pek from Imola. He needed to sale packaging machine to a foreign client and I have help them during the negotiation process.

I was amazed by the fact that with a portfolio of 20 patents, 40 years of experience, and truly global coverage with his inventions, Mr. Valenti is just a regular engineer that loves innovation and enjoy to solve problems. Therefore, I wanted to interview him here in order to understand in more details what is the innovation for entrepreneur that is the undercover hero of dynamical constant innovation. Also, I wanted to understand how a micro enterprise Tek in Pek manage the process of innovation that is responsible for some major breakthrough in the global packaging industry.


Small warehouse in Imola’s industrial area is a headquarter of inventor that has made this city famous. The valley of packaging as the local and global players in packaging industry know Imola was born in the head of this man. Quiet, polite, workaholic engineer, that enjoys to breath live into metal. After few minutes of conversation with Mr. Dante it is easy to understand why 40 years ago, as he told me, he took his pen and left IMA S.p.a. (one of the biggest local multinationals). This gentlemen do not like to argue, he is not into politics, and he is not just into making money, but making innovative and sustainable solutions. This man is an innovator at its best. So, he knew that the resources that counts (innovation ingenuity) are on his side and he started his own enterprise dedicated to constant innovation.

Mr. Dante Valenti - CEO and Engineer at Tek in Pek, Imola

During this 40 years of continuous innovation he created all kinds of machines for packaging, from corrugated cardboard to polypropylene. Presently Tek in Pak is world leader in design and production of machines for manufacturing of special die cutting dies for the hot stamping of die cut products with sealed flutes. 

Here are the Q&A from the interview we had with Mr. Dante Valenti earlier this week.

About the products

Q – What is the smart part (added value) of your products?

A – After I left the corrugated board packaging industry I have searched new materials for packaging and discovered polypropylene. Here the major innovation introduced was the system that I have invented for a hot air sealing of die cut products (so called Vame system). This was a major breakthrough for the industry and the product was welcomed with success in the international market. This system allows closing the sides of boards making the material sterilised and utilised in different steps during the pelletisation process e.g. bottle and jar separator. Moreover, polypropylene is highly resistant, depending on the thickness of material combined it can be much more resistant than wood or even metal.

The peculiarity of the sealing process of Tek in Pak machines is that no smoke is made because the sealing is not touching the cartonplast sheet and this way the thickness of the sheet at the edges on the whole perimeter is kept the same as the original sheet thickness.

Box pallets made of this material are easily folding if edging is correctly designed and this can lead to enormous savings in the transatlantic transportation industry because the palette our machines made are reusable, they do not have to be treated with protective paint for wood or metal and after the delivery they can be compressed to 6 time smaller size, which leaves a lot of space for other shipping to be made. In US they are using our machines to produce the protection from tornadoes which is replacing the wooden protection used until now.           

Tek in Pek Imola Packaging Machine_TF3

The products made of polypropylene are recyclable, environmentally friendly and ideal for industry because this material:   

Emits less CO2 emissions during production when compared with other materials  

Ensures the total recyclability at the end of the product life

Ensures high chemical resistance and high outdoor durability

Is sterilize and has natural water repellency

Is resistant to acid, alkaline and salt solutions, and as well bacteria, mold and algae resistant

Is lightweight and customisable: thickness, weight, color, etc..

Is printable: screen printing, digital and flexo printing

As well, we are searching a business partner that would work with us on commercialization of the highly resistant and lightweight polypropylene rucksack I have registered as utility patent in December 2016. This rucksack is entirely printable, it requires less material for production than other similar products because it uses  hot air sealing.

Ho anche progettato e brevettato una soluzione innovativa per eliminare rifiuti e inquinamento prodotto dalle attuali capsule utilizzate per le macchine da caffè. Inoltre questo prodotto permette al consumatore di elaborare personalmente la miscela di caffè.

– How did you get the idea?

– Innovative products are always born out of the strong research spirit and the capacity of realizing solutions.

– How did you get the funds for realization of your ideas

– By my opinion in Italy, financial instruments are reserved for Multinational Companies that are able to lobby to get the state and bank funds. I was never approved an application for product development and all of my products are realized with self-financing and loans.

– What were the key barriers (administrative, operational, technical, financial)

– Once I have finished the detailed prototype design of the machine or other products the biggest obstacle is finding a way to finance further development and application of the solution and to commercialize the idea. Therefore, we are still engineering design studio and the production process is left to other global companies.  

Tek in Pek Imola - Vame System - Hot air polipropilene sealing

Support

– If any, how was the support from the development institutions/agencies (city/province/region/country/global)

We did not received any support whatsoever.

– Are you a part of/do you have plans to make public-private partnerships? (Universities, incubators, clusters)

– No.

Do you plan to apply/have you already applied for HORIZON 2020 entrepreneurship/innovation support programs?

– I am not planning to apply for such funds.

Management

– Inhouse or outsourced business consultancy/grant application management?

– Our products are truly globally presented and we have our machines from US, Mexico, Japan, Bulgaria, Italy, Russia, France, Peru. We worked with some multinationals such as Procter & Gamble but we are only engineering design studio and all management and consultancy processes are done in-house.

– Are you planning to internationalize?

– 90% of our products is sold on the foreign markets, among which African countries, US, Japan, Asia, Europe, but we are not present in China and Balkans.

– Are you willing to pay for the market analysis?

– Yes I would, but in reality, since we are a microfirm and we do not have means for hiring consultancy firms I do market analysis by myself. The principle is next. I am doing my best to be present, alone or with firms that are producing my machines internationally, on biggest global fairs in this industry. There I have a chance to see the latest global trends and needs and to present my products.

In this way I am able to analyse the competition and to prepare machines that suits the need of the market.

Tek in Pek Imola - Lightweight polypropylene rucksack - Utility patent

Innovation

– How would you define innovation?

– Innovation is driven by the spirit of research and experimentation and concertized with the capacity for implementation. When developing a new innovative product you must never forget costs and time it needs to be created.

– What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

– In partnership with one US company we are presently working on the  solution for innovative product made from folding polypropylene blocks and sealed with our hot air method. So, continuous implementation of our approach that have clear market value is our strategy for the future. We are also working on variety of solutions of box pallets for US market. However, I have noticed the trend that underdeveloped countries are those more focused on innovation because this gives them opportunity to catch up and maybe outrun developed countries. That is why I am currently negotiating to export some of my newest machines in Kenya and Ecuador.

– How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture, and how is it being optimized.

– The best way to make your company innovative is to be open for new solutions and to visit and discover other markets, in this way you can understand  market needs and consequently design a suitable solution for that needs.

– If you could hire few new people (to develop a product of your dreams what unconventional skills would they have?

– I do not know who I could need to develop the products of my dreams but in order to continue to work on present machines I need accountant, engineer and production facility.    

– What can your company offer for free that no one else does?

– We can offer young people, if they are interested to do internship with us, and to experience the pleasure of making something out of nothing, because that what engineering is, it is breathing life in what before was just a bunch of metal and having the pleasure of seeing it working and producing something useful.

 


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Green energy from the urban aqueducts: Loclain innovative startup

global water

An article by Slobodan Ocokoljic

slobodan

problem solving pulsar

When I was a child, I loved to build dams on mountain springs and rivers. As I lived in a remote mountain village, there was plenty of water all around. Even now, when I play with my son close to the water, building dams with look alike turbines is our favourite game – alongside with throwing stones into the water, of course.

Why am I telling this to you? Because the article you are about to read deals with an innovative water flow regulation valve that actually works the same way as the dams I used to build as a kid. But, of course, this valve harnesses the energy potential of the urban aqueducts.

How cool is that! Small dams beneath our feet built on the city water supply pipes. Finally, some startup with a truly great and green idea. So, without further adieu, Sigma Infty presents you the company behind this game-changing solution: LOCLAIN.


Zero emission energy efficiency

Water is the resource of the future, and green energy is the present objective of our society. Innovative solutions in water management systems and green energy are surely to be profitable and everyone is ready to invest in the R&D of innovative solutions in this field. This should be obvious having in mind that the potential of the smart city market is huge.

Smart city market is estimated to grow from USD 312,03 Billion in 2015 up to USD 757,74 Billion by 2020, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 19,4%. Moreover, according to the New Climate Economy (NCE), investment demand for sustainable infrastructure is estimated to be around USD 6 trillion annually over the next 15 years, up from some USD 3 trillion invested in all types of infrastructure today. Finally, as people from Loclain told us, the control valves and water services sector amounts for 18 bn USD and has an annual growth rate of 5%.

All this should mean that the startups trying to innovate in this field can easily find financing. I took an interview with a local startup from Imola, Italy, that was awarded as the innovative company in the 2016 Bologna water technologies fair ACCADUEO in the category pumps, machines and plant design. Their story is highly interesting and gives a completely different insight, as it proves that it is not so easy to find the financiers of good ideas, even in a steadily growing sector.

tensions on water food land resources info-graphics

A self-explaining infographics. Source: OECD Science, Technology and  Innovation outlook 2016

Research and development as an investment

Before being awarded as an innovative startup, they also won a prize for their patent. Yet, they struggled to find investment for their business plan. No bank or regional institution were willing to help during the startup development process. They found the solution for funding their research and development activities and flow testing machines only by selling 20% percent of their founding capital to a business angel from northern Italy. 

Once their half a million EUR machine for water flow testing was installed, and all necessary certificates acquired, they were ready to hit the market. They also wisely chose the market entry point. Bologna International Water Exhibition is one of the leading fairs in Europe and it is only 30 km from Imola where the startup is based, so they really felt like home.

And this is where I met the Loclain team. I was working as an interpreter for a Serbian delegation at the Fair. As soon as I saw the name of the innovation prize winner, I ran to their stand. As I am also from Imola, and I was launching the Sigma Infty think net, a startup as well, we noticed that we had a lot in common and agreed to meet for this interview.

So, these are the Q&A from our last week interview with Loclain executive assistant Alessia Bernardi.

Loclain executive assistant Alessia Bernardi

Loclain executive assistant Alessia Bernardi. Image by [Personal Gallery].


LOCLAIN srl – company ID

Sector
Year of establishment
No. of employees
Mission
Location

Mechanics & engineering
2015
7
Zero emission energy efficiency
Imola (BO)


About the product: LocPower valve

Q – What is the innovative part of your product?

A – We have integrated two previously separate solutions of the flow/pressure control valve and energy harvesting turbine into one product, the LocPower valve. Thus, we have decreased the price of production, the physical space for the installation of the valve, and the number of necessary permits for the installation. At the same time, we have increased the energy recovery level. The LocPower system converts energy dissipation into mechanical power and then into electric energy. All this with zero greenhouse gas emissions. The annual produced energy from one installed product is enough to create the energy 67 average italian households would need. Also, by using LocPower valve, 66,5 tons of greenhouse gases are saved from emission into the atmosphere.    

IMG_1943 (2)

LocPower valve. This image is copyrighted, and used with permission. Image by Loclain.

Q – How did you get the idea?

A – Lorenzo and Claudio, the founders of Loclain, have a background in the control valves sector, as they have both worked as consultants in this field. This gave them an excellent insight into the potentials and problems of the sector. They have joined their entrepreneurial and engineer capacities to make a valve prototype.

Q – How did you get the funds for the realisation of your business plan?

A – We did not get any financial help from bank, nor from regional or national funds for startup support. We have fundraised enough for financing the business plan by selling 20% of our share capital to a business angel from Milan.

Q – What were the key barriers: administrative/operational/technical/financial?

A – The key barrier was the financial one. We needed to invest around 500,000 EUR in the construction of the flow test plant. When we made our hydraulic flow test plant operational, this was already an enormous step forward. You see, this is maybe the biggest difference between the ICT startups and the industrial startups. Industrial startups are capital intensive and they need much more financing in order to start the business.

LocPower energy harnessing valve innovation made in Italy

LocPower energy harnessing valve is ready for installation. This image is copyrighted, and used with permission. Image by Loclain.

Support

Q – If any, how was the support from the development institutions/agencies?

A – We did not receive any help whatsoever from regional or national institutions. However, we do care about the territorial aspects of our company and our strategic choice is to always look first for the suppliers and partners inside the local area. However, if we cannot find the necessary components locally, we look for them elsewhere.

Q – Are you a part of some cluster/incubator or do you have plans to make public-private partnerships?

A – For the time being, we are not part of any incubator nor cluster. Our strategic focus is on the partnership with universities. Since we have an area of 600 sq.m. for R&D where flow tests are performed, we would like to make this space available for university research. We just had our first undergraduate intern that conducted the tests for his graduate thesis in our laboratories. Starting from this year, we will host postgraduate interns. The partnership with universities is important for us, because it allows us to stay in contact with the most promising students who, if they perform well, could get employed in our company.  

Q – Do you plan to apply/have you already applied for HORIZON 2020 entrepreneurship/innovation support programs?

A – We did not apply for H2020, as this program is more focused on supporting basic research and innovation, while we are focused on applied industrial research and innovation.

Loclain headquarters

Loclain headquarters. Image by [Personal Gallery].

Management and consultancy

Q – Inhouse or outsourced business consultancy/grant application management?

A – We look for outsourced consultancy and grant application management only when we are not able to do it by ourselves. Consultancy firms cannot have a better insight on our products and needs than ours. We have our inhouse pull of experts that is responsible for these types of activities. It is composed by a lawyer, an accountant and myself. I am an economic development expert. Right now we are working on the application for the 2017 POR FESR regional fund.  

Q – Are you planning to internationalize Loclain?

A – Yes, but starting from 2018. First, we will need to collect the feedback from the Italian market. In this moment, all our suppliers are from Italy. During the first two years, our strategy is to develop and implement the product nationally. Then, during the third year we will start looking at the international markets. We are very interested in foreign markets, as our patent and certificates are valid in more than 50 countries.

Q – Do you already have partners in some of these countries/markets?

A – The Bologna fair was very important for us. It was our platform for creating worldwide partnerships.

Loclain water flow test laboratory.

Loclain water flow test laboratory. This image is copyrighted, and used with permission. Image by Loclain.

Innovation

Q – What is the aftermath of the Bologna H2O fair innovation award?

A – The award did not have any impact on our activities. It has increased a bit our visibility, but the presence at the fair was even more important than that. A lot of contacts have turned into orders and contracts. So, we can say the fair was a springboard for us. We thought that the award would increase our chances to access regional funds. However, our recent application was rejected.

Q – What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

A – Energy efficiency is a global trend driving companies towards constant improvements. Loclain’s objective is to be a forerunner and to anticipate the latest trends. If possible, we would like to have the first-mover advantage over our competitors.  

Q – How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture, and how is it being optimised?

A – Innovation is the Loclain’s asset. As far as the technical aspects of the innovation are concerned, we have a production area of 3600 sq.m. and 600 sq.m. of space for R&D, and our first product has already won the innovation award. As every innovative company, we are trying to organise our management processes in innovative ways. This is best seen in our organigram. We have introduced the position of “innovation director”, so as better to emphasize the importance of innovation for our company culture.

Q – What can your company offer for free that no one else does?

A – Well, the answer is energy recovery. Having in mind that our product is a dissipating valve with an integrated energy generating turbine, this will allow customers to have the chance to harnessthe energy of the water flow from their conveyance water pipes without additional investments.

Innovation-in-Italy

Image by [Knowledge@Wharton].


Author

slobodan

Slobodan Ocokoljic – FOUNDER AND CEO OF THE PROBLEM SOLVING PULSAR THINK NET Researcher / Manager / Translator – Constantly on the move and in pursuit of missions impossible to accomplish. Slobodan studied Political Science and Local Economic Development. After 6 years of working both as a researcher and project manager, in 2016 he started working as a freelancer. He lived, studied and worked in Belgrade, Trento and Budapest. Two years ago, he moved with his family from his homeland to Italy. Thus, he is interested in connections and influences between places and people, economic development and human development, environmental protection and human rights, as well as urban/regional development and business innovation. He firmly believes that no other force has stronger gravitational pull than knowledge, that’s why he chose the name Sigma Infty, as a synonym for the infinite thirst for knowledge.

Proofreader

sara

Sara Polidoro – LANGUAGE SUPPORT (Italian A | French B | Russian, English, Serbian, Croatian C) Freelance Conference Interpreter – Sara has been pursuing her dream of becoming a conference interpreter since her childhood. She has earned an MA’s in Conference Interpreting from the Advanced School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators (University of Bologna), and she has lived, studied and worked in Brussels, Moscow and Belgrade. Her career as a freelancer started in 2008, and since then she has been travelling for events and conferences regularly. Her professional activities include consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, community interpreting for healthcare facilities, as well as interpreter training. She is an instructor of Russian>Italian liaison and consecutive interpreting at the University of Macerata and a language tutor for Russian>Italian consecutive and simultaneous interpreting at the University of Bologna.


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Liveability: personal, global and country–specific perspectives

Imola bnw rocca s.

Imola as seen from Rocca Sforzesca, home to one of the Civic Museums and the ‘Incontri col Maestro’ International Piano Academy. Image by [Personal Gallery].

See how liveability index indicators are put into practice by Sara, an interpreter who has lived in 4 metropolis, and Slobodan, a territorial development expert. Learn from our experience how to get the most for you and your family and eventually save some money, by choosing the right place to live in. Get a closer look at the situation in Italy and Serbia, keeping in mind current global trends.

Livability matters  

Composite statistics indexes can help you choose your place of residence, or where to outsource your business. Yeah right, maybe in utopia, or in some distant future, where you will be able to look at the numbers, press a button, and be teleported to a civilisation where the slogan ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’ is reality.

In the real world, families look for places where migration laws are liberal and work permits are easy to get. Also, they try to understand how many hours of work are needed to purchase necessities. Your values, lifestyles, cost of living, languages you speak and job-related skills will determine what to look for and where to look for it.

Liveability–global and Europe cost of living

Living costs around the world and the Europe. Image by [www.movehub.com].

Personal perspective – the background

Three years ago, after the birth of our first son, our perception of Belgrade changed. The beautiful dynamism and attractive golden ratio of chaos and harmony, East and West, and the unparalleled fluidness of Belgrade, turned for us into a maze of administrative, commuting, and health care services mess.

Once it is not just you fighting for a breath in overcrowded buses, or breathing the exhaust from a nearby boulevard or highway, you change the way you perceive your city.

So, after a few months spent on wasting time and patience to deal with the worst administrative bureaucracy and architectural barriers, we decided to leave Belgrade and to bypass cities where looking for a place to park your car would require more than 5 minutes.

Liveability–Belgrade as seen from Beogradjanka

Belgrade in autumn, as seen from Beogradjanka, the tallest skyscraper in the city center. Image by [Personal Gallery].

In (re)search

We started looking for a place in Italy (Sara is Italian) that would meet our current (mainly parents’) needs and lifestyle.

These were the four main parameters of our nearly 3 month research:

Neither too big, nor too small. We needed to find a place where housing prices were reasonable

Neither as Switzerland, when it comes to service organisation, nor as Serbia

High level of preschool services and education

Good connections with other bigger cities in order to commute and travel as smoothly as possible, as we would need to travel a lot being both freelancers.

And the result was Imola. With its 70,000 inhabitants, Imola is big enough to have municipal and State schools, two theaters, museums, libraries, big parks, sport terrains, hospitals, even a branch of the University of Bologna, several art galleries, and the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, where the Formula One San Marino Grand Prix was held until 2006.

Liveability–geography matters

Imola city center – via Emilia. Image by [Personal Gallery].

Imola in brief

Imola is not as expensive as Bologna, Florence or Milan if you need to rent an apartment. You can save up to 500 EUR a month if you compare similar apartment prices in Imola and Bologna, and up to 1000 EUR a month if you compare them with Milan. Yet, using (fast) trains you can reach Milan in one hour and 40 minutes, while Bologna is just 25 minutes away (both by train and car). A monthly train pass costs 55 EUR. Depending on the means of transportation, you can reach the most fairytaily city on the globe, Florence, in an hour and a half by car or in a bit less than two hours by using cheap-but-more-than-decent regional trains. The closest international airport is in Bologna, and you can reach it in less than one hour using the Imola-Bologna train and a bus from Bologna Centrale railway station to Marconi Airport (total cost: approx. 10 €).

The Emilia-Romagna region is the Italian and European leader in preschool education system and policies. You can see it the moment you step into any kindergarten, school, bar, restaurant, furniture shop or a local grocery shop. The “spazio bimbi” (En. children’s space), as they call it, here is definitely a must have, and believe me: once you become a parent, this is something you really need!

In Imola, you can find this space even in the municipality offices! A miracle for someone coming from Serbia (or Southern Italy, Sara would say!). Almost all bars have some small space for children. Kindergartens here are just awesome. Schools throughout the region apply the Reggio Approach, a preschool pedagogical approach developed by Loris Malaguzzi. The aim is to foster the development of the 100 languages that every child speak. It is amazing to see that teachers really do care about the creative potential of your child. They do not just act as ‘supervisors’, preventing children from falling and getting injured and so on.

The healthcare system here is among the best in Europe. In Trento (Northern Italy), services are as good as in Bologna and Imola, but their price is significantly higher.

Liveability–green space matters

Imola’s Santerno river floats through the city center, surrounded by running and bicycle tracks. Image by [Personal Gallery].

Imola is also full of bicycle tracks, music schools, farmers markets where local (and slow!) food is sold. There is also a local astronomical observatory on a nearby hill, and the children library programs and exhibitions are a great way to engage kids in a wide range of activities.

The city’s waste disposal policies and practices are among the best in Italy. Imola is also an  Italian mechanical engineering stronghold, and, last but not least,

you can reach a natural reserve by the sea in 45 minutes by car and beautiful mountains in 25 minutes.

The surrounding hills and forests are also breathtaking. As an example, I recently discovered a protected biosphere relict forest (Bosco della Frattona) just a 25 minute bike ride away from my house. Imola immediately got some more bonus points in my book!

1479202217145_instasave

Imola racetrack – Enzo and Dino Ferrari International Racetrack. Image by [Personal Gallery].

Liveability – global variations

The notion of cities livability has become famous thanks to The Economist’s Global Liveability Ranking. The Economist Intelligence Unit measures the liveability of world cities based on approximately 30 indicators grouped into several fields, such as:

green spaces,

sprawl,

natural assets,

cultural assets,

connectivity,

isolation,

pollution,

stability,

healthcare,

culture and environment,

education,

infrastructure,

space characteristics.

The only ‘bug’ about this research is that it is restricted (due to data availability) to cities with more than 750,000 inhabitants, which leaves smaller cities out of the list.

There are other lists as well, such as Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey, which observes life satisfaction, including physical health, family, education, employment, wealth, religious beliefs, finance and environment, and the Mercer Quality of Living Survey conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments. The second survey also identifies the cities with the highest personal safety ranking based on internal stability, crime, effectiveness of law enforcement and relations with other countries.

You can also take a look at The Happy Planet Index which, in addition to standard determinants of well-being, uses each country’s ecological footprint as an indicator, or the World Happiness Report and Social Progress Index measuring the extent to which countries provide for the social and environmental needs of their citizens.

Liveability in Italy – country-specific perspective

In Italy, research on livability has been conducted for 18 years now by La Sapienza University researchers. Almost one week ago, the results of the 2016 survey were published on the financial and political magazine Italia Oggi. Besides the changes in comparison to the 2015 survey, the most important conclusions concern the trends revealed by the data gathered for 18 consecutive years.

By looking at the preliminary data, researchers discovered that 53.9% of the Italian population lives in regions where the standard of living is insufficient (19,301,000 inhabitants) or low (13,431,000 inhabitants), while 15,399,000 people live in acceptable living conditions and 12,599,000 people live in regions where the standard of living is perceived as good. This shows a rather gloomy division of Italian society, between people satisfied to less satisfied with their living conditions (see next image), and a majority of unsatisfied living in the Bel Paese.

Researcher also noticed that big and medium-big urban centers are less likely to get the excellence (rating) in terms of livability. Rome (ranked as 88/110) is for the first time among the group of provinces having an insufficient standard of living. Neaples is ranked as 108/110, also insufficient, Milan has fallen for 7 positions on the ranking list and is now ranked at 56, while Turin is the only city that advanced 6 positions and reached the 70/110 position.

The third general conclusion is that small and medium-sized provinces have greater resilience to contemporary processes of deindustrialization, probably due to their more locally embedded productive tissue. The results of this survey lead to conclude that North-Western provinces are more vulnerable to the effects of internationalisation and relocation, and that for the first time, a rising polarisation between North-West and North-East is noticed. However, when it comes to polarisation between North and South, there is nothing new under the sun: out of 54 provinces with insufficient or low quality of life, 6 are located in the North-West, 2 in the North-East, 7 in Central Italy and 39 are in Southern Italy and the islands.

Liveability – Italy today survey – standard of living by provinces

The map of the 2016 Italia Oggi survey on the quality of life. Yellow – good; Green – acceptable; Red – low; Blue – insufficient. Image by [www.greenme.it].

Also, the newspaper Il Sole 24 ore has created an interesting, interactive map about the quality of life in Italy ‘where you can search your ideal city’, as they say. You can check the map here.

Liveability in Serbia – country specific perspective

In Serbia, our sort of liveability index is the Social Development Index of Towns and Municipalities published by the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit of the Serbian Government. Data  is available for a four year period (2011-2014), and the Index allows you to compare quality of life per town and municipality, divided into six categories, namely: demographics, economic activity, education, social protection, healthcare, and other indicators of the quality of life and social participation.

By looking at certain categories, we notice that:

The economic North-South division is something polarising Serbia, as well as Italy. Almost two thirds of the manufacturing industry is concentrated in two regions (the Belgrade Region and the Vojvodina Region), accounting for only 31% of the country’s territory.

According to the 2014 Labour Force Survey, the number of unemployed working-age people amounted to 607,400. The corresponding working-age population unemployment rate stood at 19.9%. Currently, the 15-64 unemployment rate is highest in the Southern and Eastern Serbia Region, at 23.3%, followed by the Vojvodina Region at 20.3%, the Šumadija and Western Serbia Region at 19.2% and the Belgrade Region at 17.4%.

Another significant division in Serbia is between urban and rural regions, where rural municipalities provide less access to services, education and healthcare. This is maybe most obvious when looking at the preschool coverage for children age 4, which in the school year 2014/2015 stood at 50.9%, while the coverage for children aged between 3 and the enrolment age stood at 38.3%, with children from rural areas and marginalised groups being considerably more excluded. This is important data for a country where still 45% of the population lives in rural areas.

On the other hand, this is good news for all the lovers of organic food and pure air. But don’t forget that if you need a doctor, you have to drive on bad roads to get to a hospital where some of the equipment is still from the end of 1980’s.

Liveability – Serbia average salary in RSD by municipality

The map of the average monthly salary in Serbia by municipality. Dark red: 180 – 250 EUR; Light red: 250 – 370 EUR; Yellow: 370 EUR; Bright green: 370 – 480 EUR; Dark green: 480 – 570 EUR. Image by [www.drina.info].

Liveability – what it comes down to

From infrastructure, living costs and pollution to education, culture and religious beliefs, there are many aspects to consider when we speak about liveability. It’s all up to you and your preferences. For the time being, Imola is the closest example of the ideal place for parents with kids, and this is why we are going to stay there for the coming years. Well connected, not expensive, with excellent healthcare and education services, and a lot of public parks and green spaces all around. Here, a note by the author could go like this: ‘For those of you not ready to get used to the sound of race cars echoing during springtime and summertime, maybe Imola is not the best place to stay’. However, after two years here, we must also add that our son loves it and he’s also a bit disappointed when he does not hear the sound of “Formule” – as he likes to call them – for months. I have also learned a lot about the Formula 1 championship – which is something I had completely ignored before coming here.

My personal opinion is that someone in the local government is really working consciously to make Imola attractive to families with small children or kids living in  nearby cities, so they can move there. They are trying to make a comparative advantage of Imola’s livability and thus increase the taxpayer base. Did I mention that our son got a spot in the kindergarten in just one day? We went to the office, and the very next week we started with the so-called ‘integration period’. This proactive approach towards parents seems to work. We met at least 4 families with small kids who actually left Bologna, Ravenna and Ferrara and moved to Imola.


An article by Slobodan Ocokoljic

slobodan
Slobodan Ocokoljic – COORDINATOR OF THE PROBLEM SOLVING PULSAR THINK NET Researcher / Manager / Translator – Constantly on the move and in pursuit of missions impossible to accomplish. Slobodan studied Political Science and Local Economic Development. After 6 years of working both as a researcher and project manager, in 2016 he started working as a freelancer. He lived, studied and worked in Belgrade, Trento and Budapest. Two years ago, he moved with his family from his homeland to Italy. Thus, he is interested in connections and influences between places and people, economic development and human development, environmental protection and human rights, as well as urban/regional development and business innovation. He firmly believes that no other force has stronger gravitational pull than knowledge, that’s why he chose the name Sigma Infty, as a synonym for the infinite thirst for knowledge.


Contributor and proofreader Sara Polidoro

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Sara Polidoro – LANGUAGE SUPPORT (Italian A | French B | Russian, English, Serbian, Croatian C) Freelance Conference Interpreter – Sara has been pursuing her dream of becoming a conference interpreter since her childhood. She has earned an MA’s in Conference Interpreting from the Advanced School of Modern Languages for Interpreters and Translators (University of Bologna), and she has lived, studied and worked in Brussels, Moscow and Belgrade. Her career as a freelancer started in 2008, and since then she has been travelling for events and conferences regularly. Her professional activities include consecutive and simultaneous interpreting, community interpreting for healthcare facilities, as well as interpreter training. She is an instructor of Russian>Italian liaison and consecutive interpreting at the University of Macerata and a language tutor for Russian>Italian consecutive and simultaneous interpreting at the University of Bologna.


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