The Portrait of a Young Innovator. An interview with Gian Luca Comandini

Gian Luca Comandini, born in 1990, degree in economics, in 2013 was already amongst the first in Italy to invest in two little-explored (at the time) trends: the blockchain and the social media. This made him one of the youngest innovation leaders, allowing him to co-found the trade association Assobit and the consulting and development company Blockchain Core.

Despite his young age, Gian Luca is currently a member of the task force of experts set up at the Ministry of Economic Development of Italy to outline the national strategy in the blockchain area, and a professor with Chair in Blockchain at the Guglielmo Marconi University and for years held the course in Web e Social Media Marketing at the Sapienza University of Rome, considered one of the most authoritative courses of the sector. He is also invited as a well-known speaker to the major industry conferences and to RAI, the national public broadcasting company of Italy.

In 2019 Gian Luca was inserted by Forbes in the famous ranking of the most influential Under30’s. From 2019 he is a proud member of Mensa International, an association that brings together people with an IQ greater than 98% of the world population.

How do you see the future of digital transformation in Italy? Our development is long overdue: will we be able to fill the gap?

The beauty of digital transformation (and of innovation in general) is that it can change everything overnight, so despite the enormous delay we have accumulated I believe that our country can still make its voice heard and capitalise from the many brilliant minds we still manage to attract. Next year, 2020, will be the tipping point.

How can we build a truly efficient start-up ecosystem?

Through training. We need to train and educate our youngsters and show them that collaboration is stronger than competition. We are a country where individualism and selfishness are kings. We must try and free the start-up scene from the “crap” and begin to work together, cohesively, with concreteness and vision. Sometimes Italians appear to be more interested in making the covers of newspapers than in revenue.

Which is the role of policy makers in the challenge for innovation? Is it important, for an innovator, to interact with politics or perhaps to engage in politics directly?

One word: investments. Our policy makers must bring the level of investments in innovation to the level of other EU countries. We cannot deal every year with so huge a gap between us and countries like France or Germany. We do have the talents: instead of sending them abroad, to found successful start-ups in other countries, let us think of how we can provide them with the resources to develop their ideas here.

Which advantages will the blockchain bring to businesses, public administration, research, and in general to our country?

Undisputed advantages in terms of transparency, de-bureaucratization, and speed. But the real dilemma is whether the public administration is ready for change. It will be quite hard to “convert” thousands of public offices and public servants to a fast approaching future.

Which educational and personal journey would you recommend to a girl or a boy who are eager to get their hands dirty with innovation?

At the moment, I do not see truly avant-garde academic paths, hence I recommend specialization courses or master’s courses taught by experts in the field, real experts who have anticipated the change and, e.g., “rode the wave” of the blockchain since its early years (before 2014).