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GE bets on Italian engineers and stands ready to play role in the country’s industrial digital revolution

by Corrado Poggi

“Last year we recorded a slight increase in revenues compared to the 2014 budget and we plan to do the same this year.” Sandro De Poli, GE country manager for Italy and Israel , sees positive signals for the activities of the group in the country even in the face of an economic recovery that progresses in fits and starts. “Speaking in general terms - explains - some sectors have suffered in recent years such as the health-care sector. It’s clear that in the face of limited funding, investments in new machinery have suffered, but this year we have seen some signs of recovery. Also the energy sector seems to be improving in light of a greater stabilization of crude oil prices.”

General Electric meanwhile continues to invest decisively in Italy. “This year - said De Poli - we have allocated €600 million for the Nuovo Pignone, the leader of the Oil & Gas division of the group, and €200 million for Avioaero, GE’s Aviation business which designs, manufactures and maintains components and systems for civil and military aviation. We have now come to have about 12,500 employees in the country, while turnover is worth north of €8 billion.”

GE, which is completing also in Italy the sale of its activities in finance, continues to keep a direct link with the world of research and innovation. “The founder of Facebook, Zuckerberg, a few days ago said that Italy is a great place for innovation - explains De Poli - and we are a proof of that. With the Polytechnic of Turin we have opened a laboratory for advanced studies in printing technologies in 3d and in Cameri (Novara), this technology is already put to good use for the production of jet components. Not to mention the project that we have launched recently with the University S. Anna of Pisa, where they developed an algorithm for the artificial intelligence that I can only describe as simply amazing.”

GE and Microsoft early in July announced a partnership that will make GE’s Predix platform for the Industrial Internet available on the Microsoft Azure cloud for industrial businesses. The move marked the first step in a broad strategic collaboration between the two companies, which will allow customers around the world to capture intelligence from their industrial assets and take advantage of Microsoft’s enterprise cloud applications. “Connecting industrial machines to the internet through the cloud is a huge step toward simplifying business processes and reimagining how work gets done - explained De Poli - and this deal will reap important benefits for Italy as well as hope it will hasten the growth of a favorable innovation eco-system for SMEs”.

To this end, De Poli, expressed his appreciation for the plan concerning Industry 4.0 announced on Sunday by Industry Minister Carlo Calenda, a plan that calls for extensive fiscal incentives and investments in R&D to increase innovation and efficiency. “We believe that these measures - De Poli said - will not only improve the productivity of Italian industry, but will make the country more modern and competitive. GE is ready to contribute to this industrial digital revolution by providing Predix, its open digital platform, developed in 5 years of the Industrial Internet of Things research, and its unrivaled knowledge of industrial machines.”