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A positive British – Italian collaboration

On the 24th of January, Milan lived one of its many glamorous and prestigious nights, dense with camera flashes, red carpets, exquisite food, elegant garments and the cream of society. Politicians and VIPs arrived at the breathtaking Palazzo Mezzanotte, home of Borsa Italiana and part of London Stock Exchange Group, also famous for preserving Ancient Roman remains which are clear evidence of the city’s glorious past.

The occasion was the sixth edition of the UK-Italy Business Award, which, despite being quite recent, has become one of the most important events for the Milan business community, in part due to the commitment of Vic Annels, HM Consul General and Director General of UK Trade and Investment. The aim of the prize is to celebrate the success of Italian investors who have chosen the UK to promote and increase their business.

This year’s winners received awards for their efforts in promoting Italian creativity, quality and international appeal within the British market. Important names were Luigi Lavazza S.p.a, who won the Brand Recognition Award, and Ferrari, whose award was for its innovation in engineering. Besides economy, there was time to celebrate two symbols of Italian excellence, sport and food. In fact, an important part of the evening was dedicated to two Italians who are very popular among British people: Francesco da Mosto and Roberto di Matteo. The first, a Venetian architect and anchorman, famous for his TV series such as Francesco’s Italy from Top to Toe, received the UK-Italy Intercultural Award for having brought Italy to the homes of many Britons, while the second is the coach of Chelsea Football Club and was given the Career Recognition Award for having won the FA Cup and Champions League in 2012.

The second theme of this year’s event was innovation, a word that, according to Michael Fallon, UK Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, summarizes the reason why Italian companies  are so widely appreciated among foreign investors. That is why UK Trade & Investment decided to honour eight young Italian companies, all outstanding for innovation and quality in their respective fields. The presence of Mr, Fallon, along with Massimo Tononi, Chairman of Borsa Italiana, reinforced the importance of the event in terms of Anglo-Italian economic and financial relations.

Italian women were represented by Elsa Fornero, Italian Minister of State for Labour, Social Policies and Equal Opportunities. Other important guests included Christopher Prentice CMG, the British Ambassador in Italy, and Danielle Allen, Head of Iward Investment Group, who also introduced the ceremony.

The key role of Italy within the European economy was highlighted by the Elite projects, which helps Italian companies attract even more investors.

The night continued with a gala dinner, where guests could enjoy exquisite food while admiring the Roman remains under a glass floor. There was a tribute to composer Giuseppe Verdi by two students of Accademia della Scala, mezzo soprano Shin Je Bang and tenor Matteo Falcier, accompanied by pianist Luca Marcossi. Guests were also treated with an exhibition of costumes and pictures regarding the world-famous opera La Traviata, produced in 1955 by great Italian director Luchino Visconti.

Press agencies and journalists reported on proceedings from a comprehensively-equipped pressroom, where they could view the guests’ speeches by means of giant screens.

It was undoubtedly a prestigious evening, a combination of business, culture, entertainment, passion and quality, all terms that help reinforce Italy’s international appeal.