LOOKING FOR BUSINESS IDEAS: Salvatore Ferragamo is one of eight Italian companies currently signed on to Porsche Italia’s Ex Machina project, devised with venture capital group H-Farm and Porsche Consulting.

The initiative, which starts Saturday at the H-Farm start-up center near Treviso, northeastern Italy, aims to yield a new crop of innovative business plans for firms to bid on.

The Italian fashion label indicated that since its founder, Salvatore Ferragamo, always sought out cutting edge ideas, the brand actively wants to support young creatives. Other businesses currently involved include an investment firm, a power company and a luxury furniture brand, among others.

Participants aged 18 to 35 will have 24 hours this weekend to develop proposals linked to three themes: “mass customization,” or how to create artisanal quality goods on industrial scale; “net promoter score,” or how to transform regular customers into brand ambassadors; and “business networks,” focused on helping companies of all sizes to grow and maintain flexibility.

Thirty finalists divided into ten teams must commit to spending three months at H-Farm, where they will fine-tune their ideas and present them to participating companies and a jury. On Jan. 16, an auction will take place, and firms will bid for projects with a starting price of 5,000 euros, or about $3,995 at current exchange, to be raised by 1,000 euro, or $799, increments. Teams will retain the intellectual property rights of the projects they develop.

“The idea behind this project came to me as I was thinking of the lack of confidence that we’re experiencing in this country,” said Porsche Italia director general Pietro Innocenti. “Young people seem demotivated and those who can, flee to other countries in search of opportunities to express themselves.”

He added that by giving young talents a platform to interact directly with a variety of major Italian companies, Porsche Italia hoped to counteract the country’s prevailing negative sentiment toward industry, often associated with unemployment, off-shoring and tax evasion.

Diesel founder and chief Renzo Rosso is a shareholder in H-Farm through his Red Circle Investments private holding group.

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