Italy has a long tradition of small, family owned companies becoming global leaders in fields ranging from furniture design and fashion to kitchen appliances and specialty foods. Part of their success is due to Italy's focus on creating networks of like-minded businesses, grouped together in industrial 'clusters' that encourage and enable innovation.

In order to stay ahead, we’re convinced that these clusters must leverage the Internet to help market, sell and distribute their goods. This month, we joined forces with the Union of the Italian Chambers of Commerce Unioncamere and the Ministry of Economic Development, to launch "Clusters on the Web."

The initiative will provide the small and medium-sized businesses from 20 Italian clusters with a young mentor and tutor who for six months will support them discovering the opportunities of the web economy. Thanks to Google, the selected young people will attend a training and will receive a scholarship.

We see big opportunities for Italy’s companies that go online. Already, a Venetian company Atelier Marega that sells Carnival masks, and an umbrella manufacturer from Mantua called Pasotti Ombrelli, pictured above,  that is using the net to export their goods to 55 countries around the globe. Let’s hope that our new “Clusters on the Web” program can create many new shining success stories of Italian industries increasing their presence on the web.