Shell LiveWIRE Italy, known as InventaGiovani, was launched in 2010 to help young people start and grow their small businesses. Since its inception, the programme has had more than 1,000 participants.

LiveWIRE launched in the Basilicata region due to the high unemployment rates in southern Italy, particularly among younger people. “In the Basilicata region, students do not leave university or high school with a plan to become entrepreneurs. Most consider public service jobs in the municipality. The LiveWIRE programme tries to amplify the message that entrepreneurship can be a great career path for young people," said Ivan Baggi, Shell LiveWIRE Italy Programme Manager.

In 2020, LiveWIRE expanded to Taranto, a city in southern Italy. Postgraduate students in the area often seek employment in another region in Italy or consider moving countries. "LiveWIRE offers them a chance to stay in the city, further their career, and contribute to the local economy," Baggi said.

For its most recent cohort of 60 entrepreneurs, the programme held its first virtual workshops in November 2020. Subsequent virtual workshops were held in March and May 2021. The third and final is likely to take place between October and November. 

Entrepreneurs are innovating thanks to LiveWIRE support

LiveWIRE entrepreneur Emilio Lapenna is an astrophysicist from Potenza. He founded an

innovative start-up Naosdata srl in June 2021. Lapenna received LiveWIRE assistance on his business plan and participated in calls for funding proposals. His core business is an urban assistant platform that provides information and spatial data about the city of Potenza. In March 2021, Lapenna was awarded first prize for the most sustainable innovative project at the Connect to Green Plug competition that was organised by the Union of Italian Provinces. The final version of the platform is under development and expects to launch soon. Naosdata provides also other ICT services to private and public customers.

Lapenna said that despite the training, the programme was beneficial, helping him develop new skills to grow his business. “LiveWIRE impacted several aspects of my business management. The capabilities acquired in performing market research and business audits were very important for the development of a solid project," said Lapenna.

Asked what advice he had for young people considering entrepreneurship, he said, “find a strong motivation and a strong passion for your project before you start an incredible, but difficult, journey, which probably will change the rest of your life".

Giammarco Guidetti is the CEO of ExtraGEO srls. Guidetti founded the business with three young geologists, Salvatore Lucente, Giovanni Soldo and Valentina Cantarelli with three university professors in 2014.

ExtraGEO applies scientific research for the promotion, enhancement, and protection of Basilicata's geological heritage. Geoscuola is a geoscience educational project promoted by ExtraGEO in collaboration with Shell Italia E&P, aimed at primary and secondary schools in Basilicata. The initiative aims to educate young people on geology, improve their knowledge on energy-saving issues, and introduce them to the concepts of geodiversity and geotourism.

Guidetti said the LiveWIRE programme improved his business management, marketing, sales, customer service, accounting, and strategic planning. “These training courses helped ExtraGEO to evaluate the potential of the entrepreneurial project and support it in its realisation,” said Guidetti.

“Youth entrepreneurship has now become an important driver of economic growth and job creation: it creates new businesses and jobs, opens up new markets, improves productivity and creates wealth. Those who manage to develop an entrepreneurial mindset have a better chance of running their business successfully".

Shell LiveWIRE Italy is hopeful that they can still host an in-person graduation event for the 2020/2021 LiveWIRE cohort before the end of the year.