MILAN, Italy (BRAIN)—Under clear blue skies, the 65th EICMA show kicked off yesterday with an inauguration that addressed Italy's place in the motorcycle and bicycle industries. Dozens of regional and international journalists, photographers and trade members crowded into Fiera Milano's Sala Martini.
Security was tight and entry was by invitation only as the ceremony included many of Italy's dignitaries including Fabio Mussi, minister of university and research, Roberto Formigoni, governor of Lombardy, and Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari. World champion Paolo Bettini also made an appearance.
The speakers highlighted how important it is for Italy to remain competitive in the world market. Development has been slacking, and investment in research has decreased, Mussi said, adding that Italian researchers are ranked No. 3 worldwide.
"Our competitors have high investments and unless we change these figures, we won't be able to act against [their] development," he said. "We need to leap forward. I'm convinced this is the core of the Italian challenge. We have great opportunities to improve as others are becoming more and more competitive."
Montezemolo pointed out the characteristics that define Italian entrepreneurs: innovation, technology, determination, involvement, design and internationalism. But haunting many of these entrepreneurs are "very little margins." "We reduced margins to keep market share," he said, adding that the dollar's cost is a real problem.
"We don't invest in research and innovation" to cut costs, Montezemolo argued. "We have to grow out of old rituals and traditions." Competition and performance should be at the core of product, he said.
Some of the problems Italy faces are in governance and new trade union culture. "But the cost of bureaucracy is much too high--things need to change," Montezemolo said.
According to Guidalberto Guidi, president of ANCMA, the Italian association of manufacturers of motorcycles and bicycles and related accessories, which puts on the annual show, this year's event is poised to set new records--with 77,000 square meters of net exhibition space inside 10 halls, and an additional 40,000 square meters of open air exhibits. The bicycle show occupies two of the halls and will open on Thursday to press and trade members, and to consumers on Saturday. The motorcycle show opened yesterday to trade and press and will open its doors to consumers on Thursday. Both will run until Sunday.
For the first time, the bicycle show will feature a full-size velodrome, where it will host Bikes4show--four days of racing, with world renowned champions competing along tracks flanked with stands to accommodate 2,000
—Story and Photo by Lynette Carpiet