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Tech Tour is returning to Italy this week after more than five years with events taking place in the burgeoning hubs of Turin and Rome. It seems a natural follow up after this year Tech Tour recognised two Italian companies in its Tech Tour 50 for the first time: Translated.net, a leading company in the translation market, and Octo Telematics, a company that is transforming the insurance industry with data driven analytics.

The aim of the Italian Tech Tour, which last held events in 2003 (pictured) and 2011, is connecting local fast-growing startups with over a hundred international investors and corporates looking for investment opportunities.

Fifteen of the startups that took part in previous Italian Tech Tour have gone on to IPOs or have been acquired, such as Yogitech, which was acquired earlier this year by Intel, and YOOX, which has grown into an international internet retail brand and went public in 2009.

The fast-growing Italian startup ecosystem

Tech Tour brought together top Italian investors to form a committee that selected the best startups in different fields. The event will shine a light on the Italian startup ecosystem that could be the next European tech hub, according to a CB Insights 2014 report that highlighted a big spike in Italian startup deals in recent years.

Since 2013, investments in Italian startups have grown from €43 million (VeMTM report) to €119 million in 2014 to €133 million in 2015 (Polytechnic University of Milan and Italia Startup report), and should exceed €180 million in 2016, based on deals tracked by Startupitalia.eu.

In the five years since Tech Tour last came to Italy, a lot has changed in the Italian ecosystem. There was an emergence of several different accelerator programs, including H Farm, a founding member of the Global Accelerator Network, which held the first GAN European Accelerator Summit in Venice in June, and Startupbootcamp, which launched its first food tech program in Rome with major partners like Cisco and Monini in May.

The major players have spotted an opportunity in Italy as well. In September Google opened its Android Factory 4.0 in partnership with VC LVenture Group and startup accelerator Luiss Enlabs. Just last month Apple opened the first European iOS Developer Academy in the University of Naples Federico II. CEOs from Apple and Facebook have both visited Italy for the first time this year and met a few of the top startups in Milan and Rome.

50 investment opportunities from Smart Cities to ICT

Throughout the week, the Italian Tech Tour is organising various events that will focus on specific industries with panel discussions and startup presentations. This week it kicked off in Turin with a focus on Industry 4.0 and smart cities, which will see 23 emerging and growth stage startups in the space make their pitch.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the tour makes its way to Rome where the focus will shift toward ICT and digital tech with a further 27 companies presenting. Also there will be a panel discussion on Italian tech success stories led by George Coelho, director of Good Energies, who will be joined by CEOs from Expert System, Memopal, Octo Telematics, and Translated.

These success stories will be wrapped with the tour’s closing keynote by Riccardo Zacconi, CEO of games company King.com, the developers of Candy Crush Saga.

A new role for Italy in the upcoming tech scene

In bringing Tech Tour back to Italy, Pi Campus, an Italian venture fund and startup district, played an important role thanks to Marco Trombetti, Translated.net founder, who started up Pi Campus at floor -1 of Translated.net HQ, together with Translated co-founder Isabelle Andrieu and Memopal co-founder and current CEO Gianluca Granero. Today Pi Campus aggregates dozens of startups in five luxury villas converted into offices and is helping them accelerate their growth, adding a new villa and a few new startups every six months.

Trombetti firmly believes in a new role for Italy in the upcoming tech scene: “Technology is becoming a commodity and the new future products will be made of emotions. Nowadays, you don’t buy products by their specs anymore, but because of their beauty and the experience they provide. Europe, and especially Italy, has a great opportunity to define how art, design, and lifestyle will power upcoming technologies.”

The wheels are already in motion. This October, the Art Directors Club of Europe invited Pi Campus to its festival, celebrating 25 years, to build links between European creatives and the startup ecosystem.

George Coelho from Good Energies, who is leading this year’s edition of the Italian Tech Tour as President had this to say, “Much has changed in both Italy and Europe since the first Italian Tech Tour. I have been fortunate to be involved with Italian entrepreneurs for many years. Today Italy is also increasingly a country of innovation. We see this in fashion, brands and all the products produced by medium-sized companies. But there is another Italy which is less well known. This is the Italy of cutting-edge research and development, cleantech, food tech, semiconductors, aerospace, medical products and software. Notably, Italy is one of the few countries in Europe which still produces complete commercial as well as military aircraft and helicopters, not just components.”