LEONARDO AWARDS: The 20th annual edition of the Leonardo Prizes, which recognize industry leaders who promote a positive image of Italian manufacturing abroad, took place on Monday in Rome at the Quirinal Palace, official residence of Italian president Sergio Mattarella, who distributed the awards.

Jeffrey R. Immelt, the American president and chief executive officer of General Electric, received the Leonardo International prize, as a foreigner who reinforced his country’s cultural and economic ties with Italy.

“In demonstrating sincere appreciation for the Italian manufacturing system, [Immelt] transformed GE into one of the greatest foreign investors in Italy in high technology, research and innovation,” said Luisa Todini, president of the Leonardo Committee, which was founded in 1993 as a joint initiative of Confindustria and the Italian Trade Agency (ITA).

She added that Italy was seeing “encouraging signs” in its exports this year.

In 2014, Leonardo Committee member companies hit a combined total turnover of 317 billion euros, or about $346 billion at current exchange, 55 percent of which stemmed from exports.

The top Leonardo prize went to Nerio Alessandri, founder and president of Technogym, while four Italian firms that produce locally — Dainese SpA, Dallara, Damiani and Rubelli SpA — were recognized for their outstanding quality in the leather motorcycling goods, race car, luxury jewelry and home textile sectors, respectively.

Rosita Missoni Jelmini, honorary president of Missoni, snagged the Leonardo award for lifetime achievement.

Meanwhile, in a nod to the next generation of Italian innovators, the Leonardo Start-Up award was handed to Ennova, a fledgling company based in Turin that developed a remote assistance tool for the telecommunications industry.