Internet Of Things: A Challenge In The Italian Startup Arena

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IoT is becoming an increasingly popular topic in the global startup scene. Today we're having a look at how Italian entrepreneurs handle the trend.

Technological development has always been marked by some degree of discontinuity, paving the way for considerable modifications in the evolution of our technology daily feed and bringing to relevant consequences in everyday human relations. We are now in the midst of a new phase of discontinuity, which pertains to the exploding sector of the so-called “Internet of things”, ranging from retails and smart manufacturing to utilities, automotives, e-health and so on. The Observatory for the Internet of Things in one of Milan’s leading Universities, Politecnico, has calculated the potential impact of IoT on the Italian economy over the next few years, and some main positive trends emerged for this sector.

General Data On IoT In Italy

In its first year of activity, the Observatory has analyzed over 340 IoT applications. It emerged that 2014 marked the turning point for the Italian IoT sector and according to Startup Italia, the IoT market in Italy reached € 1,55 billion in 2015. Even better, funding received by IoT startups grew at a crazy yearly pace of 90%. According to the above mentioned Observatory, There was an estimation of more than 8 million objects in Italy connected through SIM in 2014, for an overall amount of € 1,15 billion. To these, it should be added the large number of apps using different kind of communication technologies, including Wireless M-Bus, WiFi, Mesh Low Power networks and Bluetooth Low Energy, reaching an amount of ca. € 400 million. Currently, the major part of consolidated IoT applications in Italy continues to exploit the use of cell-phone connectivity.

What’s new in the startup panorama is that finally investments on IoT are bulking and 10% of Italian companies undertake IoT-related projects, said the Observatory for the Internet of Things. As a matter of fact, 22% of these companies have already established pilot actions or intend to launch one until the end of 2016, while the 38% is still analyzing the potential offered by IoT. Notwithstanding the current rush especially in the most vibrant IoT-areas, which in 2015 included Smart Home, Smart City and Smart Car, these numbers still denote some degree of delay that Italy is performing in relation to its major economic partners, where for some IoT has already become the first investment sector for 1 company out of 10.

The Connected Vehicle Evolution

The most widespread apps are related to Smart Cars, which represent the 55% of the objects connected through SIM and the 38% of the overall market share. In the future, the major boost in Italy will be related to the augmentation of over 4.5 million cars connected through GPS/GPRS for vehicle localization and for the registration of the driving parameters for insurance purposes. More and more vehicles will be provided with onboard SIM: From the 8% of circulating cars, in 2016 connected vehicles in Italy amount to the 20% in total. Over the next few years Smart Car development will be also connected to a considerable diffusion of the vehicles connected thanks to the eCall regulation, according to which from October 2015 all new vehicles on the market must be able to make automatic emergency calls.

Smart Casa For Real Life Applications

Home is becoming the centre of the new IoT system, thanks to its pivotal role in the Italian imagination and culture, to the increasing value of new products and to the interface towards other applications in the field of Smart Metering, Smart Grid and Smart City. For this reason, the interest of Italian consumers towards intelligent living solutions is getting increasingly widespread and one house-owner in four already possesses at least one intelligent object for their home, while 50% of them foresee the purchase of a new one in future. According to the Observatory for the Internet of Things it appears that 46% of house-owners want to buy products especially for security and energy saving purposes. During the last three years the market experienced a 40% growth in the area of startups offering Smart Home solutions and at the same time the amount of funding provided by institutional investors grew by 270%, and this field registered the entry into market of an increasing number of startups.

Smart City And The Example Of Niteko

Smart City amounted for 2% of connected objects and to 4% of the market. Almost half of the Italian municipalities with over 40.000 inhabitants have launched at least one IoT-based project over the last three years. More into detail, IoT development for the management of urban mobility and garbage collection could bring to a yearly saving of € 4,2 billion and an improvement of city liveability, cutting the emissions of over 7,2 million tons of CO2. From a survey on 62 Italian municipalities it emerged that 58% have already started IoT projects for the mobility management to gather and disseminate information related to traffic, public transport and available parking. Another potential benefit for sustainable cities include the adoption of intelligent urban lighting systems. 52% of the Italian municipalities which took part in the survey have launched IoT projects for intelligent lighting foreseeing solutions for the usage of LED technology lighting, thus reducing the energetic consume of 40% and maintenance costs of 25%.

It is the case of an Italian startup called Niteko, a startup headquartered in Southern Italy in the province of Taranto providing street, industrial and architectural lighting. The founders of Niteko are the authors of the first-ever LED-street application and they believe that LED lighting could be actually considered the biggest revolution since the large scale introduction of the incandescent lamp, not only in terms of technologic revolution but also in terms of cultural habits related to energy saving and major lighting efficiency. Just as many other startuppers, Niteko’s founders met during their studies and started with a University spin-off, working in the field of renewable energies and lighting systems, with the aim of using LED lamps for public and street lighting. They consequently worked as consultants for other companies until they decided to invest in their own project, thus leading to the birth of Niteko in 2011.

A Bulking Sector On The Edge Of Development

According to the Emanuele Angelidis, CEO of the of IoT startups incubator Breed Reply, there are two vast areas of development in the IoT field nowadays: One attains to the improvement of people’s lives, the other one makes the production of goods more efficient and sustainable. According to Mr. Angelidis, IoT is definitely the most interesting sector both for those who want to launch a startup or to invest, experiencing a whirling rise and it looks like it will grow even more in the next few years. You must think about the continuous developments in the field of mobile applications: People are becoming increasingly monitored, experiencing improvements on a daily basis in personal access to multiple kind of services, especially via smartphones. When you link IoT development to smart living, the improvements can be so vast that it would be very hard to envision to what extent this digital revolution could lead. Think for example about e-health, with the constant monitoring of patients, or to the production of goods with technologies that could cut costs: Entire sectors can be revolutionized.



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