Luiggino Torrigiani and his team raised more than 100 million Swiss francs for something that everyone thought was impossible: the circumnavigation of the globe in a solar aeroplane. Today, he uses his expertise to get innovative ideas off the ground.
How would you describe your job?
Dream maker? (laughs). It sounds a bit arrogant, I know, but there’s some truth in it. I use my energy and experience to work with young companies to transform innovative ideas into effective solutions that will succeed on the market. That’s what every start-up dreams of.
What sort of project do you like to get involved in?
The solution really needs to ignite change and have an impact on how we deal with our resources and our planet. Only then can I get enthusiastic – and I can only succeed in inspiring others if I am enthusiastic myself.
What are these solutions, specifically?
Solar panels that protect fruit and vegetables from excessive sunlight and generate electricity at the same time – that would convince me. A solution to completely recycle any kind of plastic – that would excite me. The same goes for a technology that allows composite materials to be repaired easily and efficiently. Or using applications and platforms to promote sport in a way that improves the health of the population.
How do you find such projects?
Through my network and by word of mouth. Switzerland is home to international sports associations as well as renowned universities with their respective clusters of competencies. So I operate in an environment that produces smart young people and promotes innovation.
What is your contribution?
First and foremost, a strategic and marketing-oriented vision. What most start-ups need are strategic partners who want to be part of the solution and help it make a breakthrough. Many start-ups find itdifficult to win over these partners. They may not have the network or access to the people who make the decisions. Also, I often notice that there is a generation gap between those who invent and those who finance.
Luiggino Torrigiani (60) studied mechanical engineering at EPFL. He soon switched to management, marketing and development. In addition to his involvement in various start-ups, he teaches sports management both at the University of Lausanne and on the Executive Master’s programme of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). He lives in Lausanne, is married and has three children.
How do you manage to sell such an ambitious idea as Solar Impulse?
You have to package your values and visions in a story that potential partners understand and find appealing. They need to be able to envisage the role they willplay and the benefits they will receive. At that time, Solar Impulse was a symbol of possibility. Today, we need to move on to concrete and effective solutions.
Have you ever failed?
Of course. For me, however, there is only one factor that counts: the number of investors on board. Ultimately, my goal is always for the mission to succeed. Or for the idea to take flight, if you will.
Do you have any questions?
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Image source: Marc Wetli