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Arduino and Maker Faire Rome 2023: interview with Massimo Banzi, Co-founder and President of Arduino

A few questions for Banzi on the special connection with MFR, the democratization of technology and the advice of makers

Massimo Banzi is a prominent figure in the world of technology for his role as co-founder and president of Arduino, a leading company in its field and gold partner of MFR2023. He has been actively collaborating with Maker Faire Rome since 2013, forging a special bond with the event. Read the full interview to find out more!

Massimo Banzi has been a protagonist of Maker Faire Rome since its first edition, and he has curated the event since 2013, maintaining a special bond over the years. Banzi is Co-founder and President of Arduino, a company that designs, produces and supports electronic devices and software, democratizing access to advanced technology. A leader in its field that, it has again this year been a valuable partner for Maker Faire Rome with an entirely dedicated space: Arduino Village. The lively and stimulating area hosts a number of enthusiasts and makers from all over Italy.

During the fair, there were many activities, debates and discussions that included his presence. We had the pleasure of asking him a few questions, drawing some valuable advice for all the young makers out there who admire his work.

 

What was your return to Maker Faire Rome after the edition at the Gazometro like? What’s it like coming back to Maker Faire Rome?

“Fiera di Roma is definitely an important location because in 2019 it held an incredible number of visitors. It is nice to be in such a big venue. Then it is also a space that has its limitations. There were really a lot of people in this place so sometimes it’s nice but also, I don’t know how to say, it’s nice but also a little unmanageable. That’s the positive side of the fact that there are a lot of people, though. I don’t think there is another innovation-related event in Italy that attracts as many people in just three days!”

 

So there is an increase in interest in new technologies?

“Yes, in my opinion, there is a bit of a tendency to always represent this country in negative terms. It’s an Italian cultural thing, isn’t it? We always talk about the things that are not going well because the things that are going well are taken for granted. But I believe this event has been a great success for as long as it has existed, since the first year, in 2013. I remember talking to one of the organizers and we were worried that no one would come. Then, when we saw that there was a queue going around the EUR in the rain, we realized that maybe something had clicked. And every year, even during Covid, people showed up; so, that means there are a lot of people doing super innovative things. They’re all around us. And above all, there is a strong interest from Italians — and not only — in innovative things. They want to see new things, positive things, they want to see where we will go tomorrow. Maker Faire Rome gives us a little bit of a snapshot. Whatever you’re interested in, we’re sure that somewhere here there’s someone doing something in that realm. This is what’s crazy to me.”

 

What are some impressions you had of this edition?

“I historically don’t get to see Maker Faire Rome, not because I don’t like it. I try really hard, but as soon as I go out, I always get caught up by people asking me things and wanting to chat, so I always struggle. I have to find a way to hide, like with a mask.

All jokes aside, in my opinion, it’s nice to see Maker Faire Rome coming back to these levels, after the past few somewhat complex years of the pandemic, coming back here and seeing invasions of kids, hundreds of them, is very very nice. And I have seen some very interesting things. I like it very much. I am always happy here.”

 

A final piece of advice for young makers?

“Some advice for young people? I believe that young makers should continue to exercise the optimism that is then somehow innate in them. Trying, for example, to imagine a better world, for which technology is not the solution, however, people working together, thanks to technology, can do things that have a positive impact on the world. My advice is to use places like these to find other people who, like you, believe things can be better. And work together, overcome diversity to work together.”

 

Massimo Banzi: who is he and what is his connection to Maker Faire Rome

Massimo Banzi is a real player in the field of innovation and open source hardware. His role as co-founder and president of Arduino, the celebrated maker movement that gave birth to the world’s most widely used open source hardware, has made him very well-known in the industry, so much so that his vision and commitment have been recognized by news outlets like The Economist, which have singled him out as one of the protagonists of the “new industrial revolution” promoted by the Maker movement. In addition to leading Arduino, Banzi was instrumental in the opening of the first FabLab in Italy and the creation of Officine Arduino, a renowned fablab-makerspace located in Turin. Throughout his career, he has worked as a consultant for prestigious brands such as Prada, Artemide, Persol, Whirlpool, V&A Museum and Adidas. He has been an associate professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea and CTO at the Seat Ventures incubator, contributed to the success of numerous software projects in Italy and London for prominent clients, and written “Getting Started with Arduino,” published by O’Reilly. His teaching stint continued at SUPSI in Lugano, where he taught Interaction Design, and at CIID in Copenhagen as a visiting professor. Starting in 2013, he was the curator of Maker Faire Rome, the second largest Maker Faire in the world after the Bay Area in California. His dedication to open source and innovation has left a significant imprint on the world of technology and education.

 

Arduino Village: successes of this year

Arduino, as a Gold Partner, welcomed the audience of Maker Faire Rome 2023 with great enthusiasm, significantly expanding its exhibition space. The Arduino Village was, in fact, an interactive, engaging and fun space that offered visitors numerous activities and great discoveries. All participants experienced the latest innovations in the Arduino ecosystem such as UNO R4, Giga Display Shield, Opta and the brand new Science Kit R3. The Arduino Village allowed enthusiasts to explore flagship products such as Arduino Pro, Arduino Edu and Arduino Cloud.

This year’s successes included a re-creation of the Space Wars arcade game, made with just a few components and an Arduino Nano ESP32, a robotic bartender called Barbot who can mix custom cocktails, and the remote-controlled ENROV vehicle, operated remotely with a Nano ESP32.

 

Maker Faire Rome – The European Edition has been committed since its very first editions to make innovation accessible and usable to all, with the aim of not leaving anyone behind. Its blog is always updated and full of opportunities and inspiration for makers, makers, startups, SMEs and all the curious ones who wish to enrich their knowledge and expand their business, in Italy and abroad.

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