Managing Director and Vice President of the Italian branch of AMREF (African Medical Research Foundation), Valerio was an entrepreneur in the Technical Gas sector and General Manager of Linde AG in France and Italy. Between 1986 and 1994 he held various positions at the Industrial Union of Rome (U.I.R.) as Vice President of Young Entrepreneurs, President of the Chemical Section and President of the Consortium of Industrial Innovation and Research (C.I.R.I.). He is present on the Board of the listed LVenture Group and some innovative startups and SMEs. He also has experience in the real estate development sector. He holds a degree in Physics with a specialization in Geophysics and a master’s in financial management and Business Management.
Let's find out more about the changes and the path of the association during the period of his vice-presidency at IAG.
Entrepreneur, Manager, but also business angel in numerous startups. How did you approach the world of Venture Capital?
After a long period in the entrepreneurial world and subsequently as a Manager, I had the strong curiosity and need for a new path, where my previous experiences could contribute positively.
Since 2007, thanks to an EU program and a subsequent trip to the USA, I found myself “involved” in this new passion of mine. The program focused on underlying the creation of a network of European BAs and the realization of investments in crossborder startups and the trip to the USA, organized under the direction of US Ambassador Ronald Spogli, also aimed at creating a network of Italian B.A.
From June 2015 to June 2021, you held the position of Vice President of Italian Angels for Growth. What was it like being part of the Executive Committee and what imprint was given to the development of the association?
Since IAG was founded, I have always been involved in IAG activities, as a partner, as a member of the Board of Directors, not just as Vice President and member of the Executive Committee. From the initial experience to the last step, the shared objectives have remained essentially the same. Building a non-profit association with intention, where the personal growth of the members is combined with a real possibility of valid investments in first-level startups, all in the spirit of a community where friendship and ethical values are the glue of it all.
Over the years, these objectives have been accompanied by others, such as attention to the principles of diversity, but by collaborating within the Executive Committee I have always considered it necessary to privilege the professionalization of the structure to ensure it has the stability and competence necessary for its future success.
An anecdote of these years?
In 2009, IAG organized a trip to China, with the aim of increasing the knowledge of the association and its members on the merits of VC in this great country. One of the planned events was a round table, with professors and representatives of the University of Fudan in Shanghai. We could well talk about the table, but this rather than "round" was oval and of "considerable" dimensions. After an initial moment of embarrassment, following the discovery that "political officers" would also participate, we reached a moment of pure hilarity when we realized that everyone spoke only Mandarin and that the film prepared for us, too, was only in the "original language" ... In short, we could no longer hold back….
In recent years, IAG has expanded its national and European network. Today at IAG you hold the position of Delegate for Relations with Business Angels Europe (BAE), which represents the European Business Angels federations and trade associations in Europe. How important is collaboration with other partners in this sector to support innovation?
It is certainly very so in terms of both the personal growth of the BAs involved, in the search for pan-European opportunities, and in the extended support to other countries that is potentially offered to some of the startups invested by IAG, in their internationalization process.
You are IAG Champion in various national and international investments including Bendit, GiPStech and Vikey. Can you tell us what it means to support startups so closely?
By itself, the possibility of supporting one or more of the startups of the IAG portfolio as Champion is reason enough to join IAG. The interaction with the founders, the exchange of experiences, the "training" in the field and the opportunity to follow the growth of the startups live, are all priceless moments.