Founded by a successful pharmaceutical entrepreneur turned the most famous philanthropist in Italy, Golinelli’s aim is to promote a culture of science and facilitate the cultural development of young people
Marino Golinelli made his fortune by starting a pharmaceutical company shortly after he graduated that eventually grew into Alfa Wassermann, a multinational with more than 1,500 employees. It recently merged with Sigma-Tau, another big name in the industry, to form the giant Sigma-Tau. However, if you ask Golinelli –who has been on this planet for nearly a century but could pass for a man less than half his age– how he would describe himself in one word, rather than an entrepreneur, he now calls himself a philanthropist. «Just make sure that you don’t call me a patron because that’s a different thing. I am a philanthropist in the etymological sense of the term, i.e. someone who loves humankind and works in its favour».
With the eponymous foundation that he established in 1989, Golinelli became the first big entrepreneur to introduce the Italians to the concept of philanthropy, which was already widespread in the United States at the time. «I made a fortune with my work and I have got a great deal out of life. I felt that it was my duty to reinvest my earnings in society, give something back to the people and invest in our most important resources: schools and the education of young people», he stated. The Golinelli Foundation has been working for years to promote and boost scientific culture. It supports cultural, responsible growth for young people and the general public in all new fields of knowledge.
There are two guiding principles behind its actions: the «unpredictable world» and «teaching to teach». At first they might seem like nothing more than slogans, but Golinelli explained that they are tangible concepts: «In 40 years, the world will obviously be completely different when it comes to things like industrial manufacturing and welfare, so our job is to strive to prepare young people for the future and instil new paradigms in their minds». This mission takes concrete form in initiatives such as funding for projects presented by middle and high school students. It is done in an area called the «Enterprise Garden», which is just one of the incubators whose physical and conceptual home lies in the Golinelli Factory, an impressive facility that spans more than three hectares in a former industrial area on the outskirts of Bologna.
The bastion of knowledge and culture covers an area of 9,000 m² and cost €12 mn. It plays host to the main educational, training and cultural activities of the foundation, from the School of Ideas (which is dedicated to spreading scientific and artistic culture, learning and creativity, with a particular focus on children aged between two and 13 and their families) to the latest, extremely ambitious scheme, which is called Opus 2065 and involves an investment of €30 mn to develop new, highly innovative forms of training for young people and teachers, a research centre for potentially interesting fields of knowledge (such as biotechnology and nanotechnology) and a fund to back new entrepreneurial activities. «We are staking it all on the school and trying to introduce the students to the concept of synthetic life, which will be widespread by 2065. Nanotechnology-based professions and companies will play an essential part in improving the quality of life», added Golinelli.
The philanthropist from Bologna cited the recent project by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is young enough to be his grandson but is doing the same kind of work with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. «My dream is that one day the ideas developed thanks to the foundation will lead to the creation of innovative companies that will reinvest part of their profits in the foundation, thus in turn helping new ideas to bud. The foundation does not make investments to promote its own interests or to make money, but to boost knowledge, learning and wellbeing in society». As far as Marino Golinelli is concerned, that is the real meaning of the words «corporate social responsibility».