Silicon Box heads towards Novara: «Painful outcome for Veneto»

OfFederico Nicoletti

Hi-tech investments, after the American giant Intel another cold shower looms: microchips in Piedmont for the Singaporean company

The second cold shower is looming for Veneto, on maxi-investments from abroad in hi-tech sectors. After the case of the American giant Intel, given for granted in September two years ago, in the last days of the Draghi government, in Vigasio, the Veronese area at the motorway intersection between A4 and A22 and then disappeared from the radar, now the looming scenario is that the “plan B” created as an alternative ends up elsewhere. That is, the investment of the Singapore hi-tech company Silicon Box, active in the frontier sector of chiplets, small semiconductors, even the size of a grain of sand, with which to form processors capable of powering data centers to household appliances.
Well, the day before yesterday, Thursday 19 June, the British agency Reuters, the same one that two years ago gave Intel to Vigasio, announced that the Singaporean company is about to choose Piedmont for the Italian factory, and specifically the area of ​​Novara, between Turin and Milan, preferring it to the two alternative choices in Lombardy and Veneto (by extension, it had always been assumed that it was Vigasio). Reuters added that for one of its two sources the choice will be made official next Friday by the company and the Ministry of Business, which, for the agency, declined to comment.

Investments and employment

The project is the one announced with great fanfare in Rome in March by the Minister of Business, Adolfo Urso, who then arrived in the days following the G7 of industry in Verona, with representatives of the company. In the following months Urso had then said several times that the company had not yet decided where to locate the project. Which, according to the elements that have emerged, involves investments of 3.2 billion euros, with 1,600 direct positions.
It is clear that the prospect of losing an investment of this magnitude represents yet another cold shower. Also because the evaluations would have included more favorable industrial and logistical reasons in Novara, where the presence of numerous microelectronics companies would constitute a more favorable industrial and professionalism base. The Presidency of the Region declines comments on this point, who followed the match firsthand with the governor Luca Zaia. However, a certain frustration filters through, also due to a supposed attitude in fact favorable to Piedmont of the allies of the Brothers of Italy.

The loss for Veneto

On the industrial front, the regional leader of Confindustria, Enrico Carraro, refers the regional leader of Confindustria to a more in-depth evaluation. «I always tell an important company not to have regrets», instead, the vice-president of Confindustria, Vincenzo Marinese, says quickly, who then adds, on the topic of the less favorable ecosystem in the North-East: «Piedmont is certainly an interesting area; but Veneto is also a region with 189 billion GDP, 40% from exports, and a wide range of industrial specializations.”
The weight of what is at stake with the loss for the Veneto of the Silicon Box settlement is clearly expressed by the industrialist Alberto Baban, president of the Venetwork entrepreneur-investor network. Which starts precisely from the point of the choice determined by the industrial context: «With 40% of non-repayable public funding to support the initiative, it is not sustainable that the choice is determined only by the company. The government obviously has a significant say in the matter: you have to ring the intercom in Rome to understand how the choice between Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto was oriented. Also because it is not possible to say that Veneto is inferior to Novara in terms of industrial context.” Baban points out that Novara is closer to Milan than Turin; location, in the end, which can satisfy both Piedmont and Lombardy: «It remains that Milan and its surrounding area are more attractive; and the question remains why Veneto always reaches the bottom in the end, but is beaten. I am obviously happy that the investment is arriving in Italy; but there is also a theme of territorial representation: this would be a painful outcome, a defeat.”

Three-level challenge

In the background, the game of territorial competition to attract hi-tech maxi-investments, crossed with the arrival of autonomy. Three-level challenge, says Baban: «The international one, between states, but also between the territories within them. With the anomaly, in the Italian case, that the decisive funds for deciding where to locate the factories are national. Welcome to the new era of autonomy: these challenges will be the order of the day.”
Lastly, the voice of Federico Visentin, the entrepreneur at the helm of the Vicenza-based auto components group Mevis, who in the past had pushed for the need to attract Chinese electric car players: «In the meantime, let’s see how the matter will end.and in any case it is positive that the investment arrives in Italy – He says -. Then, of course, also in terms of autonomy, there is a territorial front. And on this we would like to see signs of a Region capable of following up and positively closing these relevant dossiers.”

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June 22, 2024 (changed June 22, 2024 | 7:27 pm)


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