The southern Italian city of Naples is renowned for its oven-baked pizzas, Piazzas, perfect Mediterranean climate, and the Neapolitan way of life. However, the city has been nurturing a thriving community of tech startups and application development companies over the last few years.
US-based tech behemoth Apple opened an academy in the city in partnership with the University of Naples Federico II in 2015 to train students for a year to become coders, developers, application creators, and startup founders.
At the end of the 2017-18 academic year, about 400 students graduated from the academy and nearly 70 percent of them are Italian. An additional 400 students will begin their training from the start of the 2018-19 academic year.
Following suit, US-based networking major Cisco opened its own networking academy in the city in early 2018, which also added to the supply of well-trained and skilled graduates.
With the increase in the number of skilled graduates and workforce, Naples will not only get a new identity but it will also witness a brain drain in reverse, in which graduates from the city and nearby areas as well as from abroad will relocate to the city for work. Previously, young graduates from the city left in hordes to seek jobs in the northern part of Italy or even overseas.
The southern Italian region of Campania and its regional capital Naples are a part of southern Italy and Sicily that falls behind the remaining regions of Italy in terms of employment and economic growth. In the Campania region, the rate of unemployment was 22.2 percent, nearly twice the national average.
However, the dismal stats have not managed to deter an increasing list of Neapolitan tech startups such as Evja and Buzzoole. On the contrary, the advent of Apple and Cisco has emboldened the homegrown startups and app developers to leverage the increasing focus on capacity and skill development in the tech sector.
Evja is an agricultural tech startup that manufactures sensors that sends real-time indicators of growing conditions in greenhouses and fields. The company is now doing transactions in the international markets and will shortly be introducing its operations in the South American markets.
However, establishing a tech startup in the city had its share of bottlenecks for the founder of Evja who had considerable problems in accessing credit from the lenders and getting finances from the government. Evja was founded in 2015 only after securing investment from shareholders in Vienna and Munich.
Naples is poised to attract several tech companies as it has the lower cost of the workforce as well as the cheaper cost of living factors to its advantage. The salaries given by Neapolitan tech companies are just half of the salaries given by similar or the same companies in London.
Furthermore, the arrival of Apple and Cisco has promoted and publicized Naples to a great extent and it is also likely to encourage investors to invest in the tech companies in the city.
Even though the academies set up by Apple and Cisco have made a large number of young graduates employable, it, however, hasn’t resulted in the investment from private parties as per expectations.
The southern region of the country, in general, and Naples, in particular, have a long way to go in terms of road, infrastructure, transportation, communication, and public investment before it attracts the attention of private investors.
Besides, the size of venture capital sector in the country is just about a tenth of the size of London’s venture capital sector and the tech sector in the city is not as established as the sector in other developed regions around the world.