Sòphia High Tech s.r.l. : an innovative Start-up from Naples (Italy)

A few questions to know more about this fresh Start-up with co-founder Antonio Caraviello.

1) Antonio, please tell us when the idea to create this Start-up was born and where the name Sòphia comes from.

Sòphia high tech arises from the observation that in research and development field are frequently required equipments/fixtures to perform tests. This kind of accessories doesn't belong to the standard kit of testing machines. By this awareness came the business idea to design and manufacture standard fixtures to perform mechanical tests in order to characterize materials and structures behaviour. The design, according to the standard references (UNI, EN, ISO, ASTM, DIN, BS, AF, etc.), is performed with modern virtual technologies, which guarantee safety and reliability of the products and facilitate the manufacturing chain. Sòphia high tech invests a lot of funds and resources in the industrial research improving the existing fixtures in terms of configuration, geometry, shape and material used. There are also several mechanical tests not supported by international rule, then we design special fixtures in order to perform unconventional tests, according to the customer specifications. The idea allow us to validate research result obtained by our Ph.Ds.
About the name Sòphia, it is strongly related to the meaning the place we first met has: the University. Here the love for knowledge is cultivated and spread throught the years. This is exactly the idea at the base of Sòphia, the love for an endless learning which drives us to face problems with innovative solutions.

2) Which is the company philosophy?

The new business idea relies on the motivational boost of young mechanical engineers: Antonio Caraviello (Myself), Pierluigi Cirillo and Raffaele Sansone.
The company is an innovative start-up and it is waiting to be accredited as academic spin-off by the University of Naples Federico II.
Sòphia's TEAM is highly motivated and sees the professional challenges as necessary path for a continuous growth. We aim to become a LEADER company in the field of Engineering. Working with Sòphia involves a process rather than a product, as we want to ensure the customers differentiation, high standards and multidisciplinary approach in the test and process simulation. The company aims to be very competitive due to the low cost and to the high quality of the products we offer. The innovative approach, adopted for the fixtures design, is based on the use of CAD and CAE  techniques which allows to reduce the product development time guaranteeing a strong reduction of costs related to manufacturing. Collaborating with Sòphia, You establish a direct and constant relationship with passionate people who work in active co-operation with the customer. On the basis of these considerations was born our the slogan "into the project."  

3) What is your target-group?

Public and private scientific laboratories need fixtures for carrying out the tests on innovative materials for different fields of application. For each category of material are provided specific international standards which have different specimens shaped to be tested with different types of fixtures. Knowing that the construction of a fixture has been guided by a team that enjoys a close partnership with a prestigious University, with a strong experience in the field, provides a strong element to meet the need of Customer. We turn our target also to private companies in order to provide high-tech engineering services capable to reduce the product's development time/cost, the waste of materials and guaranteeing the full customer satisfaction:
  • CAD services and virtual prototypes development in DMU environment (Digital Mock-Up)
  • RE service (Reverse Engineering)
  • Technical data management, bill of materials
  • Installation and construction drawings
  • Simulations of virtual products using numerical techniques based on finite element method (FEM)
  • Development of a physical prototype (Physical Mock-Up) and relative testing analysis on it
  • Analysis of technological processes
  • Editing of technical documentation
4) Which is your vision for the next 5-10 years?

My market vision is closely linked to the vision of our team. What pulls together the people working in Sòphia is the strong liability for professional challenges. Now we are facing significant challenges with very important customers in the field of engineering and we are getting optimal results. Thanks to this attitude, the growth in the market will be very fast. Over the next five years, we plan to cover at least half of the requirements of test fixtures in Europe. Moreover we expect to grow more and more on the composites industry and to create an accredited training center to transfer engineering knowledge. By these ideas arise new work and therefore economic development for the country. We plan to increase our employees, our internal resources and to forge strong partnerships across Europe. In this period we also seek strong partners to develop new ideas that could apply to the European program 'Horizon 2020'. About the R&D field we count to patent a new fixture (already in development) to carry out special tests on composite materials.

5) Are there connections between Sòphia and Dresden? (you spent some time in Dresden)

I spent a lot of time working in the city on the Elbe and I got beautiful memories about my experience in Dresden. I remember how people were kind and how the Germany welcomed me. In the specific I worked for EADS-EFW (aerospace field) and I hope to collaborate again with Elbe FlugzeugWerke company because I learnt a lot from my colleagues there. Moreover I hope to get in touch with other companies from Dresden or in general from Germany. The German market is growing strongly because the companies are highly innovative and open to forge new partnerships. For Sòphia it would be a honour to establish partnerships with companies requiring test fixtures or engineering services in Germany. In this sense I think that, because I have already worked for German companies, I would be happy to strengthen business relationships with the German market. I would be honoured also to create a partnership with the Technical University of Dresden (Technische Universität Dresden) which I admire very much. I'm very impressed by the results of the materials science research that the University of Dresden gains year after year.

6) Which has been the biggest challenge you have managed till now and how have you solved it?

As for personal challenge, I can say that my life is marked by strong choices. I obtained degree in mechanical engineering with the highest honours when I was only 24 years old. Later, after working a short period in Italy, I chose to work in Germany for a professional growth.  At age 26 I have already covered the position of Design Checker in the aerospace industry. Although I was at ease in Germany I felt I was missing something, I felt that the challenge was not strong enough and that I could do more for the engineering sector. Finally, I chose to give up a flourishing career in Germany to chase a dream: Sòphia. I resigned from the German company to return to Italy and feed the ambition I share with my friends/partners. We have created an innovative structure for the types of products/services, which are corroborated by the research results that we are achieving thanks to the Ph.D. In my career I have had the opportunity to meet two University Professors who have championed the cause from the outset. Thanks to them we face the professional challenges with the technical approach of people who have 25 years’ experience in the industry. As company challenge, I remember that in the initial phase we needed a strong industrial partner who could construct the test fixtures at a competitive cost. After a boost research we were able to enter into a commercial agreement with M.P. srl, a company specialized in precision engineering. At that time everything seemed hard to get, now it is a reality. The biggest challenge now is to spread the name of Sòphia in the field of engineering, and we are chasing the target with appropriate communication structures. We carried out advertisements in common social networks, we were guests at sector exhibitions, we created a company website, brochures, gadgets and we involve continuously people in the development project.

7) Which role plays Social Media in your company?

We truly believe in the communication skills of Social Media, in the ability to spread the message globally with a click and to get feedback from those who displayed the message. Because the Market is an interactive phenomenon there is really need of Social Media. In Sòphia I cover the role of Sales, Market and Communication Manager, and in my opinion, the communication has to be made in the right way. As Company we are present on the main Social Media: Facebook , Twitter and Linkedin. We're also thinking to sign up on the Social Media for business as TamTamy, Qontext, Yammer, Beezy, Yoo +.
We know that the Social Media’s way to communicate is very different from the one offered by the Traditional Media and we are also aware of the power the conventional communication has. For this reason in our company we aim to integrate both communication’s tools.

8) Do you see Social Media as the Marketing channel of the future?

Social Media can be considered as the future marketing channel because it is accessible to everyone and therefore anyone with an innovative idea can spread it on the web. Just to mention that different products, services and even political movements were born and raised on the web, receiving acclaim from many people. To get a free platform that allows you to advertise your product/service does not mean however that those products/services will be sold more easily, but it can help to raise more interest. Social Media Channels offer the chance to reach a different and in some way wider audience than the industrial media.

Thanks a lot Antonio for sharing openly your projects.
Angela Incampo

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