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INTERVIEW Alessandro Ranellucci of Maker Faire 2020: “Recovery Plan digital funds? Fund research from below

INTERVIEW Alessandro Ranellucci of Maker Faire 2020: “Recovery Plan digital funds? Fund research from below "

From robotics to the relationship between technology and the arts. The curator of Maker Faire talks about the themes and events of the review on innovation to be held online from 11 to 13 December

Rome – Innovation, ingenuity and creativity. In 2020, the Maker Faire in Rome is again an appointment with ideas and projects, dedicating three days of webinars, workshops and conferences on the main themes of innovation. Technology enthusiasts, groups of people working on a common project, researchers, students and companies will interact to share experiences, ideas and potential synergies related to technological innovation.

In organizing the latest edition, which will take place from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th of December, the directors of the Rome Chamber of Commerce have accepted the challenge imposed by the anti-COVID-19 measures at congresses, guaranteeing the event in an entirely online format. A necessity that has been made into a virtue, as Alessandro Ranellucci, curator of the great innovation fair, suggests in this interview.

How is it possible to conceive such an event online?

The pandemic has forced us to radically convert the way the event is taking place. Maker Faire is a fair where people handle innovations by hand and we have worked hard not to limit everything to a simple streaming. In addition, the contagion containment measures adopted all over the world have also negatively affected the number of group projects presented. But it would have been a paradox not to accept this opportunity, for us who talk about innovation. On the contrary, however, the transfer of the Maker Faire online has enormously expanded the contributions and projects from abroad, offering an important opportunity to exhibitors and visitors who could not have reached Rome. This year’s edition will provide an outlet for the digital innovation projects related to the pandemic presented by participants. The desire to return to the traditional form with which the event took place in the past seven editions is turning into dynamism, the same dynaminism we are finding in the projects we are receiving.

What style characterizes Maker Faire for the 2020 edition?

This year we have particularly insisted on the two main innovations of the latest editions of Maker Faire: robotics and artificial intelligence. A large section was dedicated to art, with an in-depth study of the ways in which contemporary art can be enjoyed thanks to the tools made available by digital reality. Another section of the fair is dedicated to the incentive that digitization, and especially technology and the role of algorithms, can exert on the creativity of musicians. There is also room to address the issues of food and sustainability.

However, the Maker Faire was born in San Francisco on the initiative of Make: Magazine. So why have you decided to import the exhibition into Italy by setting up a European edition?

The motivation behind the birth of Maker Faire in Europe mainly relates to the desire to give importance to applied innovation, as is expected from an event of the sort characterized by a European perspective. The American Maker Faire is a great celebration of creativity that often does not translate into concrete innovation projects. We have grasped the need to enhance the heritage of small and medium-sized enterprises that characterizes Europe and which is reflected in the innovation projects that are presented in the Maker Faire.The world of small and medium-sized enterprises is in constant production and it needs events of this type.

The 48 BIL euros from the Recovery Plan in Italy will be allocated to the digital world. Considering the abundance of resources, which sectors should be enhanced?

There is a great need to support widespread, informal innovation. Large centers, universities and large research centers obviously deserve to continue to be supported, but it is important not to forget about innovation from below. I refer to the one coming from fab labs, from groups of people, from start-ups, those linked to open source technologies, to digital manufacturing. All elements that have proven to be an indispensable part of the economy, because they are relevant to social inclusion thanks to their contribution in the fields of health, disability and sustainability. There is a great need to support these local initiatives which often need just a little to trigger the entrepreneurial ferment necessary to make a difference and to give an opportunity to university graduates.

Can you give us an indication of what can maximize the result, given the technological evolutions that the pandemic offers us?

The close coexistence with technology typical of these months will turn into opportunities and the digital industry is experimenting with new solutions that will become common in the future. Another aspect to take into consideration will be the synergies that the pandemic is creating. Innovation is not made of great soloists, instead it is made of collaboration and of the need to put ideas into circulation. For this reason, to the classic Maker Faire slogan, “Make the world”, we added “Together”. We will talk about it on Thursday evening (December 10th), during the preview of Maker Faire 2020.