WMF – We Make Future is an open, inclusive, and collective tool that, starting from the digital realm, has brought together intersecting realities and skills, with the aim of thinking, discussing, and building a better collective future. In its last edition, held at the Rimini Trade Fair from June 16 to 18, 2022, more than 36,000 attendees, over 300 exhibitors, 1,000 startups and 300 investors, and 700 speakers from all over the world, all contributed to this collective strive.
One of the main goals of the endeavor is reshaping a better, more inclusive future, with education and employment: funding elements for promoting innovation in the social field. Over the years, with initiatives and events throughout Italy and abroad, Search On Media Group, the mother company of WMF and other educational events, has trained, upskilled, and reskilled more than 4 million people, as well as promoted shared social values, encouraging a culture of sustainability, education, research, inclusion, accessibility, and legality. All these themes are extensively explored during the Festival, thanks to the many internationally renowned guests and cultural icons joining the stage every year, such as Federico Faggin, Siyabulela Mandela, Linda Sarsour, Gino Strada, Nicola Gratteri, Luciano Floridi, Alan Friedman.
The journey of spreading the culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital has gone global thanks to the International Roadshow, the WMF’s series of international events abroad, contributing to strengthening a bridge between countries, cultures, ideas, and projects, aiming to create an innovation network without borders, strong enough to face the critical collective challenges of the future.
Several stops in Europe are in the pipeline for 2023, including Albania (next March 15th), Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Bosnia, as well as Canada, Mexico, and Australia. This international reach was further confirmed by the official certification as International Trade Fair. Let’s find out more about WMF through the words of its founder and chairman, Cosmano Lombardo.
How and where did Cosmano Lombardo’s business idea originate?
It is not just Cosmano Lombardo’s. The idea comes from a team that includes Giorgio Taverniti, a lifelong friend. We wanted to create something that could really make a difference, that could create a real, visible social impact. We began to share ideas and knowledge to contribute to the diffusion of digital culture and education, backed by the vision that this tool could generate social innovation and improve the overall quality of our lives. Then came WMF – We Make Future, which over the years has become a landmark event for innovation, education, and digital culture, reflecting the values that set us apart. We are not simply a Festival, we are activists. We are a platform for building the future. Together.
What is the core business of your company?
Definitely, social innovation, without which any business objective is an empty envelope: everything we do as Search On, through our initiatives and events, has a positive social impact as its ultimate goal. A company, product, or service has reason to exist today only if it can return a real improvement for collectivity. Communication is significant when it carries a set of ethical values, inseparable from business strategies.
How many of the initial goals have been achieved to date?
Professional education and upskilling continue to be our cornerstones. A huge dilemma today is the widespread misinformation, made even more problematic by the rampant and quick spreading of inaccurate and incorrect information online. Schools should be more concerned in activating and receiving digital education, since today’s kids will be the next leadership class, and discerning a piece of fake news from fact is a non-negotiable.
To date, we have trained more than 4,000,000 people in the digital field through all our initiatives, and we developed an innovation accelerator for the country: WMF – We Make Future. The Festival was born out of the need to enhance skills in the digital sphere, and at the same time produce cultural and social innovation.
So this idea led to the creation of a free educational offer, catered to the whole Country, and now also abroad.
When and how did the digital education project expand, to become a festival with an international scope?
We started in 2007 with the first free digital educational day in Pizzo Calabro, when, in front of a very small audience, we explored SEO, and talked about how to position sites on search engines. After a lot of work, month after month, year after year, we expanded the range of topics, but more importantly the audience involved in our community.
Thus the idea was born, of what was initially called the Web Revolution, the name of the first event that harnessed the Web revolution to encourage social development. Later on, the event changed its name to Web Marketing Festival, until today, with its new naming We Make Future: an event that proposes intersectional initiatives in the educational, cultural, and ethical spheres, in Italy and abroad, and that has recently been certified as an International Trade Fair.
What changes for WMF with this new certification?
This is further recognition of WMF’s role as an accelerator of global innovation. Since its first edition, the Festival has been geared toward creating and cultivating a cross-sector ecosystem of innovators, who can generate positive social impact, build a more equal and inclusive future, and develop effective and sustainable solutions to major collective matters. With the certification as an International Trade Fair, the WMF has yet another tool to continue its journey, facilitating sponsors, SMEs, and all the entities that will benefit from contributions to strengthen their network and accelerate their growth.
What are the prospects for WMF?
We have simultaneously started a project to extend innovation and internationalization to small towns. Through the Hubitat network, we have entwined a fabric of local innovation hubs, to promote sustainability, digital culture, and upskilling, and spread the notion of social entrepreneurship in small towns and villages throughout the Country. The goal is to increasingly expand this network and create value in all interesting places, often forgotten by the public conversation because considered low economic investment areas.
Starting in September 2021, we launched the International Roadshow, which enabled the diffusion of WMF “satellite” events abroad. This global digital cooperation project has touched 5 continents, involving 29 countries, and delivering a strong push toward sustainable and inclusive co-construction of a better future through the conscious use of digital tools.
The path we are building step by step will take the WMF format around the world: education, entertainment, business matchmaking and networking, culture and education in innovation, sustainability, technology, and communities.
Our perspective is to build an ever-growing ecosystem of innovative and conscious global entrepreneurs and foster constant cooperation through a tight flow of ideas and projects between Italy and abroad.