ROME — Italy’s new prime minister has hired the chief technology and innovation officer at Italian defense firm Leonardo to help rebuild the country’s economy, which has suffered under the coronavirus pandemic.
Roberto Cingolani, who spearheaded cyber and artificial intelligence programs at Leonardo, was named on Friday as Italy’s new “green transition” minister, tasked with revitalizing Italian businesses through environmental initiatives.
He will join a Cabinet unveiled by Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a former European Central Bank governor who has been called in to head up a new national unity government after Italy’s ruling coalition collapsed amid infighting.
The pressure is on to get a government up and running as Italy scrambles to accelerate its COVID-19 vaccination program and rebuild its economy, which is in its worst downturn since World War II.
Part of the cure will come in the form of more than €200 billion (U.S. $243 billion) in recovery funds freed up by the European Union, but strings are attached. Italy must spend about 37 percent of the funding on efforts that would make economic activity more environmentally friendly — hence the creation of the new ministry Cingolani will run.
Cingolani holds a doctorate in physics and worked as an academic in Italy, Japan and the U.S. before founding the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa in 2005. He joined Leonardo in 2019, where he focused on digital programs, sustainability, high-performance computing, AI and robotics.
A well-known critic of Italian government red tape, Cingolani will now have a chance to cut through it as a government minister.