Business Ideas 2024 - Between Sustainability and Entrepreneurial Success


Institutional Communication Service

13 May 2024

Is it possible to reconcile entrepreneurial success with a sensitive and extremely topical issue such as sustainability? The answer is yes. Indeed, as revealed by the 2024 Business Ideas event, organised by USI and SUPSI and held on Wednesday, 8 May at Lugano's East Campus, standing out and being sustainable at the same time is not only possible, but essential. The evening, which commenced with a welcome address by Francesco Meli - Centre management and Coach at the USI Startup Centre - and an introduction to Innosuisse's startup training programme, was a testament to the power of such platforms in fostering entrepreneurship. It was hosted by two young entrepreneurs with strong ties to Ticino: Fabio Amicarelli and Tomas Turner.

Amicarelli was the first to take the stage, describing himself as a "100% made in USI" with a big smile as he reminisced about his academic career. In 2022, he attended the Business Ideas event as a student and was merely a spectator. Two years later, he returned as a keynote speaker, all thanks to Foldcast, which he co-founded. It was a spin-off from the Academy of Architecture born from a brilliant intuition, which later became a solid reality. The process he developed allows for the production of recyclable paper moulds by optimising the use of concrete in structural elements without incurring additional costs. This approach has led his startup to success in the 2023 Boldbrain competition and has also been chosen as one of the 15 finalists for the W.A. De Vigier Stiftung 2024 award. Amicarelli and Foldcast are launched into a bright future. "It's incredible to think how much has happened in the last two years," he told us on the sidelines of the event. During his presentation, the young entrepreneur emphasised several important concepts. One in particular: "I wanted to make it clear to the young people in the room that Foldcast was born and developed here at USI. You don't necessarily have to look for the right path elsewhere; it exists and can be travelled here. And events such as Business Ideas are perfect platforms for understanding how to set out on the path".

Another message conveyed by Amicarelli, a common thread running through the event held in the Aula polivalente, was in favour of sustainability. A topic that is indeed sensitive and highly topical. During his presentation, the entrepreneur reeled off several impressive statistics. One above all: if the cement industry were a country, it would be the third most polluting in the world after the United States and China in terms of CO2 emissions from the use of this material. "The truth is that today sustainability - in any field - is no longer a desire, but a vital requirement," Amicarelli noted. "Within the Foldcast project, this has always been the basic philosophy. And finally in our sector we are starting to see some important signs, which are going in the right direction. Until a few years ago, imagining a zero-carbon city with no environmental impact would have been unthinkable. However, today, it is not unrealistic to assume that a similar project could come to fruition in the next 50 to 60 years." The greatest challenge for sustainability remains coexistence with the economic side of the business world. Prevalent, it goes without saying, even in the context of a startup on the launching pad. "Unfortunately, but understandably so," continues the USI alumnus. We are training ourselves to be sensitive to sustainability, but when it comes to companies and industries, it always takes a back seat, and we have to show that there are also interesting returns. Today, being able to combine these two aspects is the key to success, and it will be even more so in the future".