I was in Torino, Italy 10-12 June to give a speech as the Vice President of EBAN at the Finance for SMEs session of the 9th biannual World Chambers Congress. The Congress concluded on 12 June in the sumptuous surroundings of the Veneria Reale for the gala dinner. Over 1,300 participants from 115 countries participated in the Congress, with 31 chambers from the Least Developed Countries group also present. It was an occasion to network and exchange ideas thanks to the 30 sessions, more than 140 speakers, and to the 42 exhibitors.
In this Congress, I was able to meet with Peter Mihok, Chair of the ICC World Chambers Federation and Antony Parkes, CEO of the ICC. My meeting with them was about how chambers throughout the world could address the financial needs of SMEs at the early stage by using angel investment schemes.
I also attended the G20 session, chaired by Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the Chair of B20 Turkey. This was one of the best sessions of the Congress, where one could understand clearly how G20 is filled by various channels such as B20 Sherpa. As you may know, G20 leaders will come together in November in the south of Turkey, where the main focus will be the financial needs of SMEs and start-ups.
The need for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access new sources of finance is well recognized globally. It seems that borrowers everywhere are almost wholly dependent upon banks, whose ability to lend has become increasingly constrained since the global financial crisis. What alternative finance solutions are now playing an important role in the financing of the real economy?
Following our session, I had a short meeting with Peter Mihok, ICC President and Anthony Parkes, CEO, about how EBAN and ICC can co-operate to create an awareness in the chambers of angel investment systems and how to implement the 6-Step Road Map of Chamber-BANs. As you may be aware from my previous notes, I enjoy implementing what I advise and present in such conferences. So, now, it is time to take chambers to the early stage market as an active player to create more liquidity, more finance, more know-how, more mentoring and more networking for SMEs. EBAN is ready to co-operate with the ICC in this matter.
BTW – I enjoy using the original Italian name Torino instead of Turin, as it is called in English. I like the sound of Torino, so that’s the way I will refer to the city in this article.
Italy has a capitalist mixed economy, ranking as the third largest in the Eurozone and the eighth largest in the world. The country is a founding member of the G7, G8, the Eurozone and the OECD.
Italy is regarded as one of the world’s most industrialised nations and a leading country in world trade and exports. It is a highly developed country, with the world’s 8th highest quality of life and it ranks 25th on the Human Development Index. In spite of the recent global economic crisis, the Italian per capita GDP at purchasing power parity remains approximately equal to the EU 27 average, while the unemployment rate (12.6%) stands slightly above the Eurozone average. The country is well known for its creative and innovative businesses, a large and competitive agricultural sector (Italy is the world’s largest wine producer), and for its influential and high-quality automobile, machinery, food, design and fashion industries.
The country was the world’s 7th largest exporter in 2009. Italy’s closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union, with whom it conducts about 59% of its total trade. Its largest EU trade partners, in order of market share, are Germany (12.9%), France (11.4%), and Spain (7.4%). Finally, tourism is one of the fastest growing and most profitable sectors of the national economy. With 47.7 million international tourist arrivals and total receipts estimated at $43.9 billion in 2013, Italy was the fifth most visited country and the sixth highest tourism earner in the world.
However, Italy was hit very hard by the late-2000s recession and the subsequent European sovereign debt crisis, which exacerbated the country’s structural problems. After a strong GDP growth of 5–6% per year from the 1950s to the early 1970s and a progressive slowdown in the 1980-90s, the country virtually stagnated in the 2000s. The political efforts to revive growth with massive government spending eventually produced a severe rise in public debt that stood at over 135% of GDP in 2014, ranking second in the EU only after Greece (at 174%). For all that, the largest chunk of Italian public debt is owned by national subjects, a major difference between Italy and Greece, and the level of household debt is much lower than the OECD average.
Torino is a major automotive and aerospace centre and home of the Fiat group, the sixth largest automotive company in the world. In 2008 the city generated a GDP of $68 billion, ranking as the world’s 78th richest city by purchasing power, and 16th in Europe, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 2010 the city was ranked by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network as a Gamma-level city.
Other notable companies operating in Torino are Maserati, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Iveco, Pininfarina, Bertone, Sparco, Italdesign Giugiaro, General Motors, New Holland, Comau, Magneti Marelli, Graziano Oerlikon, Rai, Ghia, Fioravanti, Intesa Sanpaolo, Kappa, Lavazza, Martini & Rossi, and Ferrero SpA.
The city is also well known for its aerospace industry Alenia Aeronautica, Thales Alenia Space and Avio. The International Space Station modules Harmony, Columbus, Tranquility, as well as the Cupola and all MPLMs were produced in Torino. The future European launcher projects beyond Ariane 5 will also be managed from Torino by the new NGL company, a subsidiary of EADS (70%) and Finmeccanica (30%).
ICC World Chambers Federation
The World Chambers Federation (WCF) is a unique and truly global forum uniting the global network of 12,000 chambers and helping individual chambers become more productive and to strengthen links among them. A non-political, non-governmental body, the WCF is the backbone of the chamber community, uniting the global network of 12,000 chambers and their business communities.
From managing the ATA Carnet system, which allows for the duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods, to the World Chambers Network (WCN) Chamber Directory, WCF offers a wide range of products and services to help chambers deliver the best possible service to their respective members.
The World Chambers Congress is organized by the ICC World Chambers Federation. Held every two years in a different region of the world, the Congress is the only international forum for chamber leaders to share best-practice experiences, exchange insights, develop networks, address the latest business issues affecting their communities, and learn about new areas of innovation from chambers around the world.
The Congress addresses at a practical level how chambers can serve, strengthen, and support their member companies.
This exciting event assembles a global community of more than 12,000 chambers of commerce, their leading business members, and influential world leaders. It provides a unique opportunity for interaction between delegates from more than 100 countries.
The first World Chambers Congress was held in Marseille, France in September 1999. The event commemorated the 400th anniversary of the oldest chamber in the world, the Marseille-Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Since that first gathering of chambers, the Congress has been held every two years in a different city of the world: Seoul, Quebec City, Durban, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, Mexico City and Doha. Each Congress hosts hundreds of participants from scores of countries. The next one will be in Sydney, 19-21 September 2017.
Here you can find the full programme of the 2015 Congress:
The World Chambers Competition is organized by the ICC World Chambers Federation. It is the only global awards programme to recognize the most innovative projects undertaken by chambers of commerce from all over the world.
The Competition provides a unique opportunity for chambers to:
- Showcase originality and ingenuity
- Demonstrate determination to strengthen SMEs
- Improve services to members
2015 World Chambers Competition winners: For the 2015 Competition, 79 chambers from 39 countries around the world submitted their best projects in one of the four categories endorsed this year. Following the review of projects by 38 international judges, four finalists in each category were selected to present their projects live in Torino.
All finalists were recognized and applauded by the chamber and business community for their outstanding achievements. On Friday 12 June, the winners were announced during the gala dinner at Venaria Reale. Four chambers took home a golden trophy.
The winners of the 2015 World Chambers Competition are:
- Best advocacy project: Santiago Chamber of Commerce (Chile) – Electronic Registry of all suppliers to the Chilean state
- Best job creation & business development project: Kocaeli Chamber of Industry (Turkey) -“Our village” Production Center Project for the Disabled
- Best unconventional project: Calgary Chamber of Commerce (Canada) – Post-Flood Recovery and Business Continuity
- Best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Finland Chamber of Commerce (Finland) – Women Leaders Program
The Congress was held at the Lingotto Congress Center in Lingotto, a district of Torino. The building once housed an automobile factory built by Fiat. Construction started in 1916 and the building opened in 1923. The design (by young architect Matté Trucco) was unusual in that it had five floors, with raw materials going in at the ground floor, and cars were built on a line that went up through the building. Finished cars emerged at rooftop level to go onto the test track. It was the largest car factory in the world at that time. For its time, the Lingotto building was avant-garde, influential and impressive — Le Corbusier called it “one of the most impressive sights in industry”, and “a guideline for town planning”. Eighty different models of car were produced there in its lifetime, including the Fiat Topolino of 1936.
The factory became outmoded in the 1970s and the decision was finally made to close it in 1982. The closure of the plant led to much public debate about its future, and how to recover from industrial decline in general. An architectural competition was held, which was eventually awarded to Renzo Piano, who envisioned an exciting public space for the city. The old factory was rebuilt into a modern complex, with concert halls, a theatre, a convention centre, shopping arcades and a hotel. The eastern portion of the building is the headquarters of the Automotive Engineering Faculty of the Polytechnic University of Torino. The work was completed in 1989. The track was retained, and can still be visited today on the top floor of the shopping mall and hotel.
Similar rooftop tests tracks exist: Imperia in Nessonvaux in Belgium, and Palacio Chrysler in Buenos Aires, in Argentina. From 1928 to 1958, Imperia had a track over 1 km long that was built partially on top of the factory.
Day 1 – 9th of June – Tuesday
After a 3-hour flight from Istanbul to Torino, I was at the Caselle Airport of Torino at 4pm. To be honest, I was a little bit shocked by this old and drab airport. It reminded me of the old Soviet airports. This was my first visit to Torino and I couldn’t reconcile the nice city views of Torino with the state of this airport. However, the queue at passport control was a short one, so I was soon out of the airport. By the way, there are direct flights from Istanbul to Torino every day by Turkish Airlines and the flight was full. If you can’t find an available seat on the Torino flight, it is also possible to fly to Milano and then drive to Torino. It takes just 1 hour to drive from Milano to Torino.
I took a taxi from the airport to my hotel, which was downtown. It was a nice 20-minute, 30- EUR drive from the airport to the Golden Palace, a 5-star hotel right in the center of the city. And it was just 5 minutes’ walking distance to the main square, so the location was perfect. But would I stay in the same hotel again? I don’t think so. It took 10 minutes to go up the room after winding my way through a labyrinth of narrow hallways and changing two elevators. The rooms were very small and I hate small rooms. However, the spa centre was excellent and most of the congress participants were staying in this hotel. It was fine for this congress event, but I think there are probably better hotel choices if you want to stay in Torino on your holiday.
I arrived at the hotel around 5pm and after completing the check-in procedures and leaving my bags in the room, I was free to discover the environment. I enjoy staying in city centre hotels because I am able to experience the daily life of the city without losing time getting there. After a short walk through the streets of Torino, I stopped at a nice classical Italian coffee and pastry house located just at the corner of the city. It spent a lovely 2 hours tasting various kinds of cheese with my red wine. The weather also contributed my enjoyment in these two hours because it was rather melancholic, which I like very much. The fact that I spent two hours there should give you an idea about what a perfect combination it was… melancholic weather and an Italian coffee shop…
Around 8pm, it started to rain lightly and I decided to walk back to the hotel. After a tasty cheeseburger at the bar in the lobby, I was in my tiny bed around 10pm.
Day 2 – 10th of June – Wednesday
I decided to take a taxi around 8.30am to the Lingotto Congress Center. Because I had experienced the morning traffic of Italy in Milano and Rome before, I didn’t want to take a risk by spending time in the breakfast room. However, it was only a 10-minute drive that cost 12 EUR from the Golden Palace to the Lingotto Congress Center.
After completing the registration procedure and getting my badge at the speakers stand, I was ready in the auditorium for the opening ceremony. There were about 1000 participants in the auditorium. After the welcome speeches of the Mayor of Torino, the President of the Torino Chamber of Commerce, the Chairman of the ICC, and the Chairman of the ICC World Chambers Federation, we listened to the first plenary session of the Congress on global trade in the 21st century from 10.30 until 12.30pm.You can visit the link I gave you above for information about the programme and speakers.
After lunch from 12.30pm to 2pm, it was time to find the room where I would be a panel speaker on the Finance for SMEs session. Our session was in Room 500 – which was the biggest conference room after auditorium. Putting this session on the first day and scheduling it in the biggest room shows the importance ICC gives to the issue of access to finance for SMEs.
14:00 – 15:30 – Room 500
The need for small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) to access new sources of finance is well recognized globally. It seems that borrowers everywhere remain almost wholly dependent upon banks, whose ability to lend has become increasingly constrained since the global financial crisis. What alternative finance solutions are playing a more important role in the financing of the real economy.
Moderated by: Andrea Tomat, President of Lotto Sport and President of ICC Italy
- Daniela Bonzanini, Chairman, Factors Chain International
- Volker Treier, Deputy CEO, DIHK – German Chambers of Commerce and Industry
- Baybars Altuntas, Vice President, EBAN–The European Trade Association for the Early Stage Market
- Chandula Abeywickrema, Chairman, Banking with a Poor Network
- Charlotte Ruhe, Director, Small Business Support, EBRD – European Bank for Reconstruction & Development
You can find the presentations of each speaker at:
Here is an innovative 5-Step Road Map I presented in my speech for chambers to ease access to finance for SMEs by using an angel investment framework:
- Most angel investors are the members of chambers, so chambers are, in essence, real sources of new angel investors who will provide finance, networking, mentorship and know-how to SMEs – especially for SMEs at the early stage investment market addressing the scalable businesses with a financial need of a maximum of 500K EUR. We can therefor recognize chambers as a source of business angels.
- The challenge is: Chamber members do not know how the angel investment system works. The solution: EBAN has a 2-day intensive Certified Business Angels Programme for would-be-angel investors. Interested members of chambers can be given a CBA programme and become an EBAN-Certified Business Angel.
- EBAN statistics show that if CBAs act together and invest together, the success rate of a new venture is 10 times higher than a venture which received angel investment from a single angel investor. For this reason, angel investors set up Business Angel Networks (BANs), where they invest jointly in SMEs and thus minimize individual risk.
- Each chamber can easily set up a Chamber-BAN composed of the CBAs who have completed the EBAN training.
- Then, the last step, EBAN accredits the Chamber-BAN as an official entity where SMEs can find finance from accredited angel investors. So, let’s say, accredited by EBAN, the Torino Chamber BAN can connect the SMEs of its own ecosystem with the global angel investment market, where they easily find cross-border finance for their own SMEs.
Following our session, I had a short meeting with Peter, the ICC President, and Anthony Parkes, the ICC CEO, about how EBAN and ICC co-operate in creating an awareness about angel investment systems for chambers and implementing the 6-Step Road Map for Chamber-BANs. As you may be aware from my previous notes, I enjoy implementing what I advise in such conferences. So, now, it is time to take chambers to the early stage market as an active player to create more liquidity, more finance, more know-how, more mentorship and more networking for SMEs. However, EBAN is ready to guide ICC in this matter.
Setting G20 Business Priorities
After this short meeting, I moved to the Madrid Room to attend the Setting G20 Business Priorities session. The Business 20 (B20) is a vital mechanism for businesses to articulate priorities and to tangibly contribute to building sustainable economic growth. The role of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in economic growth and job creation must be taken into consideration in the process and integrated into the work of the G20. Turkey’s commitment to host the G20 in 2015 November includes ensuring the inclusiveness of SMEs in the process. Businesses of all sizes must stand together to deliver real-world input to policymaking and to seek commitment from G20 leaders to implement business recommendations.
I was able to refresh my understanding of the G20 agenda and fill the gaps in my knowledge in this very beneficial session moderated by Jeff Hardy, Director of the ICC G20 CEO Advisory Group. Rifat Risarciklioglu, President of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) and the Chair of B20 Turkey, gave a very detailed speech establishing Turkey’s readiness for the G20. The presentation of Sarp Kalkan in particular on B20 Sherpa was very informative and explained how proposals to G20 leaders are being prepared in this B20 pipeline.
Because I had been invited by another B20 working group for Innovative Ways to Access to Finance, in Izmir, Turkey last June, I was familiar with the terminology, but now everything is clearer in my mind about the structure of the B20 and G20.
Cocktail at the Royal Theatre of Torino
After this session, I returned to the hotel around 6pm to get ready for the Welcome Cocktail, which was to start at 7pm at the Royal Theatre of Torino. I took a taxi around 6.45pm under a soft evening rain and arrived at the venue, where the Mayor of Torino welcomed each participant. This was Torino’s most famous opera house and an ‘Opera Highlights’ performance was given before the cocktail.
The cocktail offered a great opportunity to network with many chamber presidents, board members and professionals coming from all over the world. It was also nice to chat with the Torino Mayor and President of the Torino Chamber and many others.
The Teatro Regio (Royal Theatre) was inaugurated on 26 December 1740 with Francesco Feo’s Arsace. It was a sumptuously decorated theatre, seating 1,500 and with 139 boxes located on five tiers, plus a gallery.
However, the theatre was closed by royal order in 1792 and became a warehouse. With the French occupation of Torino during the Napoleonic War, the theatre was renamed the Teatro Nazionale and finally, after Napoleon’s ascent to Emperor, renamed again as the Teatro Imperiale. Napoleon’s fall in 1814 saw the theatre returned to its original name, the Regio. In the following years, the opera house went through several periods of financial crisis and it was taken over by the city in 1870.
Other theatres were built, among which was the restored Teatro Carignano in 1824. It too was acquired by the municipality in 1932 and, after the Teatro Regio was destroyed by fire in 1936, the Carignano was to serve as the main venue for opera in the city until the Regio reopened in 1973.
Even before it burnt down, discussions about whether to rebuild the Regio or create a brand new theatre preoccupied Torino in the early twentieth century. Two plans were presented and the one selected expanded the seating capacity to 2,415 by removing the fourth and fifth levels of boxes and creating a huge amphitheatre. Work was completed in 1905 but the theatre closed during the First World War and re-opened in 1919. Until February 1936, seasons of opera were presented until fire destroyed all but the facade of the Teatro Regio. It remained closed for thirty-seven years. Arturo Toscanini was the conductor of the Torino Opera from 1895 to 1898, during which time several productions of the works of Wagner were given Italian premieres.
Following the fire, a national competition was launched to find an architect. However, due to the war and the overall financial situation, the foundation stone was not laid until 25 September 1963. Even then, work did not start until September 1967, under architect Carlo Mollino.
The rebuilt theatre, with its striking contemporary interior design hidden behind the original facade, was inaugurated on 10 April 1973 with a production of Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani directed by Maria Callas and Giuseppe Di Stefano.
The new house seats 1,750 and is elliptical in shape with a large orchestra level and 37 boxes around its perimeter. An acoustic shell was added to improve its sound.
The house presents a wide range of operas, including contemporary works, although in the first years of the new century, financial pressures have made the programming somewhat more conservative and they tend to rely more on 19th-century operas.
After the cocktail, I went back to the hotel to relax and get ready for the next day.
I walked to the centre of Torino to take a 1-hour sightseeing tour, which runs every half hour from 9.30am. I was on the 10am bus to see the city more closely. Walking through the city and looking over the city from the flight, you can hardly see any green area – except for mini-squares. But when you take this tour and cross the bridge to the other side of the city, you witness a marvellous Torino with many houses with lots greenery and flowered gardens. So I strongly advise you to take a city tour before judging Torino. At the end of this short but very pleasant sightseeing tour, you will understand that Torino has something for everybody from the age of 7 to 77.
After the tour, I took a taxi to the Lingoto Congress Center to attend more sessions.
14.00 – 15.30
Youth Entrepreneurship Training: Making more of good practice
Mind the gap: How can training and access to finance be co-worked to give young entrepreneurs a better start in their entrepreneurship career?
Creating scale: How can good practice leverage a policy response?
What next: Should chambers share good practice more systematically, and how?
My Comments about this session: This session was organised in cooperation with ETF, the European Training Foundation. I think it is worth learning more about this foundation. I was able to meet with the team leader of EFT’s women’s entrepreneurship education during this session. Anthony Gribben, Head of Entrepreneurship of EFT performed very well on the stage. He was a good facilitator. I think we need to give more thought to the question raised in this session: How can training and access to finance be co-worked to give young entrepreneurs a better start in their entrepreneurship career? However, I find it inaccurate to use ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘career’ together. It is possible to talk about and intrapreneurship career, but not an entrepreneurship career. This discussion could go on for a long time, so I will stop here for the moment.
14:00 – 15:30
Business networking comes in a variety of forms and styles, so for many companies, this is the main reason to join a chamber of commerce. Business markets are made up of networks of companies that are related to each other in different ways. Networks have proven themselves in leveraging new business, improving productivity, and aiding in the development of new products and innovations.
A business network of contacts is both a route to market and a marketing method. Business networking offers a way to reach decision-makers who might otherwise be very difficult to engage with, using conventional advertising methods. Exchanging knowledge, sharing business relationships and other networks underlie and help form future opportunities.
My comments about the session: It was good to get to know Patrick Lambert, Director of EASME, the EU Agency for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises. He leads one of the most important projects of the EU, an 80-billion EUR project for SMEs. Georgy Petrov, Vice President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce, contributed to the session with his sense of humour. Jemal Inaishvii, the President of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers, is also a good contact.
I found the presentation of Jianzhong from China very interesting. He promoted the Silk Road Chamber and the project very well. This is a project the government of China is supporting with a $40-billion budget. The project also includes a global online shopping centre similar to Ali Baba.
Here is the biography of Jianzhong Lv. Try to get in touch with him if you have business in China.
I invite you to learn about the Silk Road Project. It is really interesting.
16 00 – 17.30
Metropolitan cities: Cities leading the way to a more sustainable future!
To help companies looking for growth opportunities and policymakers struggling to manage the increasing complexity of larger cities, chambers of commerce need to be prepared to work with their urban community stakeholders to ensure their local economies continue to survive and grow.
My comments about this session: I think it might have been better to address the real needs of the cities in this session. Two important questions could have been discussed.
How can chambers contribute to the creation of a start-up and SME-friendly cities?
How can chambers lead the creation process of entrepreneurial ecosystems in cities?
I enjoyed the presentation of Alexey, who gave us an idea about IBM’s smart city project. But the content of his presentation did not match the meaning of ‘smart city’ understood by the audience. That is not his mistake, but the project should be re-engineered, I think.
Here is his presentation: IBM Smart Cities
After this presentation I returned to the hotel around 6pm.
4th Day – 12 June – Friday
14.00 – 15.30
The Power of Crowds
The internet has revolutionized the way we do business. For chambers, it has heightened their visibility and aided in their connectedness with their business community. “Crowdfunding” and “crowdsourcing” provide exciting new concepts for the entrepreneurship community, not only in developed countries, but also in developing countries and emerging markets where it has become just as difficult to secure funding for new and innovative business ventures.
How can crowdfunding and crowdsourcing help chambers be relevant to their members and the way they do business? What could be their role in this new relationship with their business communities?
My comments about the session: I wasn’t able to get a clear response from the panellists to my questions below:
Creating local online crowdfunding platforms is like using Facebook in local languages but with different brands. In that case, why would an entrepreneur prefer listing his business on a local platform with numerous legal restrictions instead of a global platform like Kickstarter, with fewer legal restrictions?
How are you going to check whether an entrepreneur lists his business on many different platforms and tries to raise funds for the same business on multiple platforms? If you do aim to check it, how are you going to understand if this entrepreneur has listed his business under different business titles (to avoid the regulation)?
If the crowdfunding ecosystem cannot bring a very satisfactory answer to these two questions, I believe that this crowdfunding business will not develop very quickly.
16:00 – 17:30
Digital currencies have become one of the most innovative financial tools in the past years, with digital “bitcoin” transactions becoming more common in daily business transactions. Operating within a quickly evolving and uncertain regulatory framework, the creation of a financial instrument that can be downloaded, stored, and freely exchanged across the internet has the potential to transform the world of commercial transactions. This session sought to understand the impact of such currencies on businesses and how chambers should be prepared for the opportunities and risks that arise.
My comments about the session: For me, this was the most enjoyable session I attended. Because I am very interested in digital currencies like bitcoin, I followed the session with great pleasure. Because the digital currency issue is still at the beginning of a long road, I will follow this issue in the next several years. If you are interested in what this digital currency issue is, I invite you to find Sian Jones’ presentation from Google (unfortunately, Jones’ presentation is not available on the Congress website).
Gala Dinner & the World Chambers Awards Ceremony
I went back to the hotel to change my suit and then walked to the centre to get on the bus waiting for us at 7pm to take us to the Gala Dinner venue. It took about an hour to the venue and during this trip I had the opportunity to explain angel investment to the Chairman of the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce.
After a 1-hour drive, we were at the garden of the Royal Palace of Veneria, where we were welcomed with very nice music and a water dance. It was wonderful!
In the reception before the dinner, we observed this spectacular palace.
The Palace of Venaria (Italian: Reggia di Venaria Reale) is a former royal residence located in Venaria Reale, near Torino. It is one of the Residences of the Royal House of Savoy, included in the UNESCO Heritage List in 1997.
The Palace was designed and built starting from 1675 by Amedeo di Castellamonte, commissioned by duke Charles Emmanuel II, who needed a base for his hunting expeditions in the healthy hill country north of Torino. The name itself derives from Latin, Venatio Regia meaning “Royal Hunt”.
Charles Emmanuel was inspired by the example of the Castle of Mirafiori, built by Duke Charles Emmanuel I for his wife Catherine Michelle of Spain. Keen to leave a memorial to himself and his wife, Marie Jeanne of Savoy-Nemours, he bought the two small villages of Altessano Superiore and Altessano Inferiore from the Milanese Birago family, who had created here a large complex of plants. The place was renamed Venaria for its future function as hunting base.
The design was commissioned from architects Amedeo di Castellamonte and Michelangelo Garove. The plan of the annexed borough was to symbolize the collar symbol of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, a dynastic order created by the House of Savoy. In 1675 the borough and the palace were nearly completed, including the so-called Reggia di Diana (Royal Residence of Diana), the heart of the complex. Work had to continue until the next century, however, as in 1693, invading French troops are known to have destroyed some buildings and Duke (future King) Victor Amadeus II had the residence modified according to French laws.
Further damage was inflicted during the Siege of Torino (1706), when the French troops under Louis d’Aubusson de La Feuillade were housed there. After the Savoyard victory, Victor Amadeus named Filippo Juvarra as director of the works. It was here that, during the reign of Charles Emmanuel III, his third wife died giving birth to their son. The structure was rarely used after that.
During the Napoleonic domination, the structures were turned into barracks and the gardens destroyed to create a training ground. The complex maintained this role also after the fall of Napoleon, and was used by the Italian Army until 1978, when it was sold to the Ministry of Culture. Restoration works were begun, but most of the complex was opened to tourism from 13 October 2007.
World Chambers Awards Ceremony
The ceremony started around 9pm after a nice reception. We were all in the main hall of the palace, sitting in our chairs.
I was very happy to see a very strong Turkish delegation – approximately 20 representatives of different chambers in Turkey – at this gala dinner. An award which went to a Turkish chamber of commerce was a very pleasant surprise for the entire Turkish delegation.
The jury Chair was Rona Yircali, who is the President of the Balikesir Chamber of Commerce in Turkey and previous President of the ICC World Chambers Federation. Now he is the Honorary Chair of ICC. The award ceremony started with his speech and the dinner was accompanied by live music. After announcing the winners, there was a very nice surprise for guests: Lottery cards were distributed and three lucky winners were announced at the end of the evening.
I’d like to congratulate all winners of the 2015 World Chambers Competition Awards; they foster the ecosystem in a very positive way.
Around 11pm, we were all on the bus back to the centre of the city. Because it was raining heavily, it took a bit time to get started because some guests lost their way trying to find the busses, but we managed it.
I was in my room around midnight, having enjoyed the gala dinner, where I had an opportunity to network with many new friends from Tunisia, Lebanon, the Congo, Dubai….
I met up with Burcu of the Antalya Chamber of Commerce at the lobby to share a taxi to the airport. I was glad to have met Burcu because she is very committed to developing new businesses for the chamber where she is working. Her chamber, the Antalya Chamber of Commerce, is among the top 10 chambers in Turkey. She asked many questions about angel investment and I committed to support her in case she decides to create the first Chamber-BAN in the world. But with one condition! Two years later I want to see Antalya Chamber of Commerce win of one of the ICC awards in Sydney. I chatted with her all the way to Istanbul about what sort of steps can be taken to create this first Chamber-BAN in the world.
At the Torino airport, I enjoyed the CIP lounge. The departure section of the airport is totally the opposite of the arrival part. Or maybe because I loved Torino so much, I started to perceive everything in Torino as nice. I don’t know.
However, now it is time to congratulate everybody who contributed to make his important Congress of the world a great success.
Grazie e arrivederci! It’s time also now to pass the baton to Sydney and say G’day!
Here you can enjoy the Sydney 2017 video