Astim was born in Ravenna in 2007 to sail pleasure boats, now has a turnover of 5 million a year, supplies tools to the military forces, employs 25 people and expects to employ 75 in the coming years. CEO: “Let’s build a kind of super-powerful Playstation for the tactical scenario”
“And where a kind of super powerful Playstation which represents the tactical scenario on large monitors to decide how the mission should be carried out ». In other words: whether to shoot and to whom. The quotation marks are the description, given by the manufacturer himself, of the instruments designed by a company in Ravenna and supplied to vehicles of various armed forces, not just Italian. «The scenario is shown on the screens with graphics reminiscent of a video game – explains the engineer -. The information about these images can come from different sources: from sensors of any kind or from communication on different channels. Maurizio Minghelli is the founder and CEO of Astim: the company of the Italian war industry and the security of sensitive places were among the supporters of the Tricolore Air Show, the two days dedicated to the military world in Punta Marina in mid-June.
Astim currently has its operational headquarters in Fornace Zarattini but retains his registered office in Ponte Nuovo: “To be exact, in the garage of my family’s house, where it all started 15 years ago.” The goals of the time were different: “We looked at yachting, which was a sector with a rapidly growing turnover, and we founded a company that was to distribute navigation equipment on behalf of others. The idea was a commercial activity we bought to resell. But they did not warn us that the crisis would come in 2008 … ».
To survive, one had to reinvent oneself: “It was the period of frequent pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden, and we invented a system that increased the protection of ships from attack. In short, when the radar detected the presence of something approaching, a software steered the cameras with night vision to understand what was in front of it ».
Initially, customers are shipowners and the private shipbuilding industry. So the turning point in 2010: “We realize that the system could be adapted to detect pollutants in water, and therefore we provide the Tal consortium with a system for detecting firefighters, also as a result of some experience with the firefighters. Hydrocarbon emissions and protection of the largest oil terminal in the Mediterranean, which is Trieste. “The collaboration extends to the Coast Guard and makes the Navy’s eyes rest on Astim:” Today we make a product we own that meets the requirements of the military defense world. After Leonardo we are the second Italian company that produces combat systems, if we talk about amphibious projection instead, we are the first ».
Astim currently has 25 employees of four different nationalities (mostly engineers, three out of four men) and an estimated turnover for 2022 of 5 million euros (from 4 in 2021): the goal is 50 employees between 2025 and 2026. But the company is already looking ahead: “We are looking for an area in Ravenna for the construction of a new facility for one hundred people by virtue of contracts that guarantee a solid order package for the next 8-9 years” .
These are not figures that have been raised as a result of the war in Ukraine: “When a war starts, there is no immediate fallout for military defense companies because one does not go to the front to do experiments. The research and development activities will resume when the conflict is over, when the data collected will be processed: let’s say that at this moment it’s as if we were going to school, and then we have to do our homework. From the clash between Russia and Ukraine, we will have a lot to think about. ” Minghelli explains it better: “For years we have been used to asymmetric confrontations, the threats came from terrorism. Now we have instead returned to conventional duels between armies deployed with a crucial role for the artillery. This changes the focus on different scenarios, for example between China and Taiwan ”.
But precisely because we are in a period where the war is really being fought, it is the right time for a military parade spread over two days: ‘It is fundamental – assures Minghelli -. First of all, the pandemic has shown us the necessary role for the armed forces: from transporting the coffins of army trucks to being assigned to General Figliuolo. And then we realized that the world is an ugly place where not everyone attaches the same value to human life, and a military defense is necessary, to avoid being in Ukraine’s conditions. The armed forces are not used to wage war, but to avoid it. “