Offering opportunities to deserving students, helping young sportsmen with rare developmental disorders, and awarding prizes to entrepreneurs whose business experiences serve as an example for the newer generations. All this is to happen at 6:00 pm on 8 April 2021, at the YEI Conference: Young Entrepreneurs For Italy, an online event held to inaugurate Fondazione Poffe, the non-profit organisation born in memory of Andrea Poffe, founder of the innovative sports centre Zero-Gravity. The event, open to the public, is dedicated to young people, but offers everyone an opportunity to hear the story of an inspiring role model.
An idealist – that how his friends remember him – who gave his dreams the wings to fly. A young entrepreneur, born in Verona and later adopted by the city of Milan, Andrea had chosen to abandon a brilliant career in finance, in London and New York, to return to Italy and devote himself to his passion by founding the innovative Zero-Gravity, sports centre, now the largest acrobatics centre in Italy. Andrea had just fulfilled his dream of bringing indoor acrobatics to Milan when he died prematurely on 4 May 2020 at the age of 40.
In continuity with Andrea’s spirit, and embodying his capacity for innovation and attention to others, Fondazione Poffe has been founded with the aim of focusing on young people with difficulties and helping them to achieve their goals. Hence the establishment, as from this year, of 3 themed awards, symbolising the commitment of Fondazione for education, sport and entrepreneurship:
- Andrea Poffe Fellowship for Young Talents: Scholarship
- Zero-Gravity for Inclusion: Free access to Zero-Gravity
- Italian Entrepreneur of the Year: Prize
The Lead Sponsor of the scholarship for aspiring students of the Politecnico di Milano, the Andrea Poffe Fellowship for Young talents (an extremely generous scholarship to attend Collegio di Milano), is Prima Assicurazioni, the insurtech company that has revolutionised the world of insurance through a team of 318 young talents (as of February 2021) having an average age of 31.
Moreover, this year Zero-Gravity for Inclusion, an initiative offering Zero Gravity training programmes, will be supporting First Step, an association that helps children with developmental disorders, with the endorsement of with an ambassador of excellence - the champion Daniele Cassioli, whose impressive winning streak of 25 world titles, 25 European titles and 41 Italian titles has earned him the accolade of greatest Paralympic water skier of all time.
Finally, acting as sponsor of the first Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Fabio Moioli, a well-known influencer and Head of Consulting for Microsoft Italy, will be granting the Award to Riccardo Zacconi a successful entrepreneur, generous promoter of the Italian entrepreneurial culture, and founder of King, the company that, among other things, developed the Candy Crush app which went viral on mobile and social media.
Michele Poffe, Andrea's brother, commented: “Apart from being my brother, Andrea was an example of determination, commitment and courage. His greatest success was to have created a friendly, close-knit work environment: the Zero-Gravity family”. Poffe continued: “With this extraordinary team, we are pursuing his ambitious project of opening Zero-Gravity centres in Rome and Turin. The affection shown and the donations received after his death have made me even prouder to have been his brother. The initiative we have embarked upon with a view to honouring his values aims to enable many more Andreas to develop their talent for the common good”. Poffe concluded: “The three prizes we are awarding for the first time today are an expression of Andrea’s three legacies - education, sport and entrepreneurship - areas in which passion and perseverance make all the difference, regardless of social status, and in which we wish to encourage talented young Italians to fly high”.
Vincenzo Scuotto, fellow student of Andrea Poffe and President of the Alumni Association of Collegio di Milano, added: “Andrea’s humanity, responsibility, entrepreneurial vision and his generosity in taking risks for the common good, will be a source of inspiration for future generations of entrepreneurs. Today we are offering a deserving student the opportunity to study at Collegio di Milano, a unique cultural laboratory based in Italy but inspired by American campuses, with the difference that this college brings together students from 7 different universities. Andrea had started out from this college, where selection is based exclusively on merit”.
AD 1 – EDUCATION: Andrea Poffe Fellowship for Young talents
Application for the Politecnico di Milano permanent scholarship for deserving high school students is now open. Andrea's success relied neither on family funding nor on fortune, but on hard work and scholarships that opened the doors of the most prestigious institutions. The Andrea Poffe Fellowship for Young Talents was established to offer a similar opportunity to other talented young people. The scholarship has been made possible by the generosity of the insurtech company Prima Assicurazioni, which has built its own business model as market game changer on the talent of skilled young people. Alongside Andrea's friends, the Fondazione Collegio delle Università Milanesi, and the Alumni Association of Politecnico di Milano, Prima Assicurazioni, in its role of lead sponsor, will offer a deserving candidate from the last year of high school 100% of the university fees for an entire three-year course at the Politecnico di Milano, plus 80% of all lodging costs and extra-curricular activities at the prestigious Collegio di Milano. For information on the merit- and finance-based selection criteria, please visit www.fondazionepoffe.org/bando. Please note that the first applications must be submitted by 1 June, so as to allow enrolment in the first cycle of studies in academic year 2021-2022. The scholarship will cover the entire three-year course of every winner, and will be offered year after year to new students on an-going basis.
George Ottathycal Kuruvilla, CEO of Prima Assicurazioni, declared: “I met Andrea personally and admired him greatly. He was a talented entrepreneur and a big-hearted person with a sunny disposition. He was a great man. We are delighted that Andrea's relatives and friends decided to set up Fondazione Poffe, because we firmly believe that his story can be a source of inspiration for young people; a courageous example in a country whose business culture badly needs an injection of innovation. Prima Assicurazioni identifies with Andrea's experience. We too would like to be a source of inspiration for young talents, which is why we are proud to support and made this Scholarship possible, thereby giving visibility to Andrea's story and hopefully inspiring the game changers of tomorrow”.
AD 2 – SPORT: Zero-Gravity for Inclusion
In the belief that everyone has the same right to inclusion, Fondazione Andrea Poffe offers young people with mobility and developmental disorders the use of its facilities and the skills of its experts. The first association to benefit from free access to the mobility training programme, held by the qualified specialists at Zero-Gravity, for an overall value of € 6,000, will be First Step, an organisation that helps children with developmental delays caused by brain injuries, genetic syndromes and motor disorders, accompanying them on a path of education and helping them learn how to improve their skills. First Step’s motto is “Every child can develop their potential” and is based on re-educating children so that they can learn to make the “right” movements. First Step was chosen to boost the important results achieved by some children who have already included sessions at Zero-Gravity in their rehabilitation path, finding the gym’s equipment and the staff’s competencies fundamental aids to their treatment. Associations wishing to apply for the 2022 edition of the prize may submit their project to Zero-Gravity.
“Andrea had a dream: to create an open, welcoming and inclusive company with the feel of an extended family. One year after his death, with Fondazione Poffe and Zero-Gravity, we too are pursuing this dream, welcoming everyone in what we believe is a place of opportunity and freedom of expression”, commented Michele Poffe, Andrea’s brother. “We have chosen to pay special attention to children with particular difficulties because, in order to create a movement, we feel it’s important to start by giving everyone the literal opportunity to move and express their own physicality, despite of their limitations”.
Ambassador of excellence at the event is the Varese-based sports champion Daniele Cassioli. Born in 1986 and blind from birth, Daniele is a Paralympic water skier who has overcome every obstacle and holds the world record in jumping (21.10 metres), figure skiing (2010 points) and slalom (1 buoy with rope at 11.25 meters, at 58 km/h). “I developed a passion for sport from a very early age,” says Cassioli. “When I was 3, I started swimming and doing karate. Then I had my first experiences skiing, and in the summer of 1995 I embarked on my water skiing adventure. Sport can become the road to happiness. The best thing is to know your limits and try to overcome them, because winning is not just a goal; it is also a way of ridding yourself of an obstacle that is blocking your way”.
AD 3 – INSPIRATIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Italian Entrepreneur of the Year Award
In the belief that success stories and role models can offer young people the strength to look beyond the obstacles and the conviction that their best future is in their own hands, Fondazione Poffe has named the well-known influencer and Head of Consulting for Microsoft Italy, Fabio Moioli, sponsor of the first edition of the Prize. After careful consideration, in collaboration with NOVA MBA, the association of Italian MBA holders in the world, the winner selected for the first (2021) edition - and therefore the first source of inspiration - is Riccardo Zacconi, the founder of King which, after developing Candy Crush (one of the most successful games in the history of apps), brought to Italy École42, a free coding and digital culture school that selects 150 students exclusively on merit to guide the country's technological transformation.
Francesco Tronci, President of the NOVA-MBA, Association of Italian holders - like Andrea - of an MBA from a top foreign business school, which over the years has backed various initiatives supporting Italian talent, commented as follows: “To help the country grow, we set out to promote an entrepreneurship open to people of every age and social class, encouraging more and more young people to embrace it in order to create wealth and employment. We would like to inspire international MBA holders to have career ambitions not just in the fields of finance, consulting and management, but also in entrepreneurship, both abroad and in Italy”.
At the event, the sponsor Fabio Moioli and the winner of the prize Riccardo Zacconi will speak to the young participants, alongside other speakers from the worlds of academia and sports: friends, university colleagues and athletes who shared part of their journey with Andrea and who will be taking this opportunity to tell their stories.