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Meet The Team: Michele Scataglini, Partner

Michele Scataglini specializes in large scale innovation programs for public agencies and private sector organizations, working at the intersection of emerging technologies, public-private partnerships, and new market formation. His domain expertise covers space commerce and governance, the financial sector, the built environment, energy services, health systems, and public procurement.

Michele’s career spans between government, academia, corporate, and entrepreneurship with over 20 years of international professional experience, primarily in Europe, the UK, and MENA. Previously, he spent a decade at Ernst & Young working with clients such as the European Commission, the World Bank, and national and regional agencies to design and implement large scale economic development and innovation initiatives. 

He is also an Associate Fellow at Said Business School, University of Oxford, teaching and engaging with world-class executives (including from the WHO, Nesta, Statkraft, Buro-Happold, and Structure Tone) and faculty, maintaining foresight on how markets, technologies, and business models are evolving.

At the Business School, Michele co-established the Oxford Space Initiative with Professor Marc J. Ventresca and other faculty members and co-led a learning initiative for the European Space Agency.  His current research focuses on “Pathways to Space”, a review of how governments, aerospace incumbents, earth-based industries, and start-ups venture in the space economy, shaping boundaries and possibilities.


A notable part of your background is your recent time as a fellow in strategy and innovation at Oxford, how did you land there?

During my last years in Government advisory roles, I started to pay increasing attention to the developments in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Big Data, and Analytics. I could see the potential for those technologies to be embedded in strategic decision-making in Governments, and their potential to better inform public policy and public service delivery with a view to accelerate job creation and growth. 

I decided to pursue a degree at Said Business School, University of Oxford, and started to sharpen my understanding of emerging technologies and how markets form around them, through the role of Governments and Entrepreneurs. I started collaborating with faculty on research in strategic innovation, engaging in capacity-building activities with C-Suites and Boards, Government Agencies, International Organizations and teaching case studies co-authored with faculty in degree programs.


During your time at Oxford you co-founded the Oxford Space Initiative. Can you tell us more about the creation of this initiative and the work you were doing? 

It was 2020 – at the Business School we started capturing signals around what was happening in the global space economy. This included the increasing number of sovereign space agencies established around the world, the venturing into space both from earth-based industries and aerospace incumbents, and the ferment in entrepreneurial activity around spacetech.

What is happening, in essence, is the birth of a new industry, made visible in the efforts of these agencies, amplified by the uniqueness of space and by the aspirations of billionaires from SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. As a result, we started convening the Oxford Space Initiative with activities focused on research, the “Smart Space” teaching for MBA students, and convening a broad partner network via flagship initiatives such as our “Smart Space Speaker Series”.  I have also been involved in a capacity-building program on strategic agility with one of the largest space agencies globally.


What are some of the most exciting advancements in emerging space technologies? 

Today there are a bunch of technologies that are becoming more and more relevant in the space sector which include AI/ML, quantum, photonics, and more. These technologies find applications in different segments of the space economy. For example, AI finds application in the analysis of satellite imagery, the delivery of missions, and robotics.

What is key to understand is that technology is an important factor of success, but not the only one. Technology is just an enabler of innovation, but the value creation requires wrapping those technologies around a business model. Successful business models require managing multiple stakeholder agendas and partnerships. These are also lessons that leaders from any incumbent industry on earth can learn from the space sector, where long supply chains and sophisticated operations make activities even more complex. 

The new space era is often associated in industry parlance to private sector entrepreneurship, but the role of government still remains key in enabling market formation both by providing financial resources and establishing regulatory clarity. Innovation is an organizational capability that must be built and maintained within organizations, it is a structured process that starts with good ideas and turns them into impactful innovations, often requiring multi-stakeholder collaboration, and discipline to balance innovation efforts with those of the incumbent business, something at Oxford we call “Exploit-Explore”.


You have been a venture partner for SiF for a number of years now and recently joined as a full time partner managing DIFC Launchpad’s Portfolio. Can you tell us more about what you are doing day to day with the DIFC? 

My role at DIFC really brings together the learnings from my entire career. I am working within a government organization, and supporting the ecosystem of financial institutions and beyond, to innovate with the ultimate goal of creating jobs and growth.

While most government agencies around the world would generally provide grants and incentives to organizations to invest in innovation, the DIFC Launchpad does something different and unique. It has built an internal capability that goes on the market with a commercial approach, offering unbiased and independent innovation services to create innovation capacity in financial institutions and adjacent sectors enabled by emerging technologies. 

As our team on the ground is backed by Silicon Foundry, this means we can bring to the Middle-East the best insights into emerging technologies and startups, and leverage a curated network of relationships with corporates and c-suite executives. We leverage these assets to provide an end-to-end spectrum of services to our clients in Dubai, which include hackathons, incubators, accelerators, corporate venture building, and assistance to set up corporate venture capital.

We also established a new service called “Local Advisors” through which we provide assistance for foreign technology scaleups in localizing in the region, supporting them in understanding the stakeholder ecosystem, developing partnerships, and connecting with sources of funding. Increasingly we are expanding our operation in support of other government agencies focusing on sectors including mobility, gaming, and space.


DIFC has been growing rapidly, what would you attribute their growth and success to? 

DIFC celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Key to its growth was the decision to establish a financially free zone–a carve-out from the mainland UAE–with its own financial conduct authority and courts, governed by common law. This was important to attract overseas players, as it provided regulatory certainty and ease of doing business.

Over time, DIFC has portrayed itself as a key player in the region and globally. Its ability to drive innovation in financial services, sustainability, and technology – with the establishment of the AI & Web3 Campus – is undisputed. One recent example is the project that our team is running with Julius Bear and Euroclear around the Future of Inheritance. Through this partnership, the organizations are exploring a new generation of financial services enabled by digital assets and re-imagining the role that incumbent industry players and the DIFC will play in that near-future ecosystem.


What is your favorite aspect of your work with DIFC? Tell us what excites you about the work that DIFC is doing?

What I enjoy the most at the DIFC and working in Dubai is that the work of change makers and innovators is valued and experimentation is part of the culture and DNA of leadership. Being part of different platforms such as Silicon Foundry, Said Business School, and Kearney allows me to see different opportunities and bring them to DIFC Launchpad. 

Our team is actively engaged in conversations with the regional space agencies, aerospace incumbents, and foreign scale-ups, to bring DIFC core capabilities to bear in the burgeoning local space industry, which is really exciting. These include incubators for emirati space-start-ups, bringing geospatial insights to the insurance and finance industry, and supporting US and European space scale-ups in embedding their operations in the region.


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