Starting Up…and Standing Still – November 24

The best young web entrepreneur of 2015 is Italian, according to the jury at Europioneers 2015, who picked Domenico Colucci’s Nextome app out of 60 startup finalists. Colucci, who is a 26 year old from Puglia, created Nextome in 2012 after he had difficulty locating a restroom in a shopping center. Nextome works by picking up a series of signals from a building’s WIFI and transmitting them to the user via Bluetooth technology, facilitating orientation in chaotic indoor spaces such as museums or exhibition centers. The application’s website notes that the confusion we experience in a foreign environment is accentuated in large public spaces, and that pinpointing the user location will provide “nearby points of interest, the fastest routes, and ongoing promotions.” Colucci stated that he was “very happy for this important award,” and thanked the jury and the European Commission for supporting the Europioneers project and appreciating the “potential of Nextome.” This was the third edition of the competition, whose prior winners included presentation software Prezi in 2014 and audio distribution platform Soundcloud in 2013. Nextome previously won Best Startup at last year’s Web Summit in Dublin, beating out 2,000 competitors.

According to a study released Monday by Istat, the National Institute for Statistics based in Bologna, 1 in 4 Italians are on living the edge of poverty. This figure places Italy in the range of poorer countries like Hungary and Latvia, far removed from Western European nations such as France and Germany. The numbers do point to some slight improvements over the last few years in other areas, as now 49.5% of people cannot take a week vacation far from home, down from 51%, and 38.8% of people would not be able to afford an emergency expense of 800 Euros, compared to 40.2% previously. But another sign that the Italian economy still faces significant challenges is the news that 1 out of 2 Italian families make no more than 2,026 Euro ($2,151) per month, for a net annual income of 24,130 Euros ($25,600). The highest median is found in Northern Italy, with an income of 27,090 Euros ($28,700) per year, while the lowest is in the Southern regions of Lazio, Campania, and Calabria. 46% of people who live in the South are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, an improvement from 48% in 2013.

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About Zachary Vogt

Zachary Vogt is originally from Washington, D.C., and received his undergraduate degree in Italian Studies at the University of Virginia. After graduation he moved to Italy to work at the U.S. Pavilion at Expo Milan 2015, serving as a Student Ambassador. Following completion of his M.A. in Italian Studies at NYU Florence, he plans to pursue a doctorate in Italian, concentrating on issues of immigration and demography.

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