Mr. WCap: “Let’s give a billion from the mafia to innovative enterprises”

Creating a fund for innovation with the money from property confiscated from the mafia: this is the proposal that Salvo Mizzi made during the inauguration of the new accelerator in Catania

Twenty-two years after the murder of the two judges Falcone and Borsellino, a proposal has been made in Catania to re-use the patrimonies confiscated from the mafia for investments in innovative enterprises. Salvo Mizzi, founder of Working Capital has launched the appeal #22annidopo in the presence of Graziano Delrio, undersecretary for the Premiership of Ministers, during the inauguration of the new accelerator in Catania.

 

THE PROPOSAL «The 3 billion in assets that make up the patrimony confiscated from the mafia should go to creating an investment fund for innovative enterprises in the South», stated Salvo Mizzi.  «The fund destined for innovation that we have talked about for years has never been created and this could be an occasion to make the enterprises that are starting up in Italy grow and to allow them to compete at an international level. It would be that extra push. It must be concretely sustained because, as Umberto Di Maggio (coordinator of Libera) says, each new enterprise is blow to the mafia». The fund, according to the proposal by Mizzi, should be managed directly by the office of the Prime Minister “to create a smoother administration and to make these resources available for economic development”. Graziano Delrio, present at the inauguration of the new space where the initiative was presented, showed great enthusiasm. “We have already involved Umberto Di Maggio, from Libera, and some deputies, among whom Paolo Coppola, Stefano Quintarelli and Francesca Bonomo. We absolutely must recuperate the gap between other European countries: in Italy only 80 million in risk capital was invested in 2013, while in Germany and France 800 million was invested. One billion is needed immediately to put us at the same level as other European countries”. Now, the patrimonies that have been confiscated from the mafia are being used for social programs, investing them in enterprises would mean funding for-profit companies. But Salvo Mizzi firmly believes that investing in innovation creates a positive return for everyone. “For every 5 jobs that are created in the innovative sector, 5 more are created in other sectors, reveals a study conducted by the University of Berkeley. I would like the funds to be coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister with the goal, as well, of creating employment for young people, and that the management of the properties is conducted at a national level in order to create coworking spaces, productive activities, FabLabs, etc.”

THE NUMBERS The total value of the patrimony confiscated by the mafia is about 30 billion euros, including a total of 11238 confiscated properties and 1708 businesses. 10% of the total, about 3 billion euros, corresponds to liquid money and titles derived from the earnings of productive activities and is managed by FUG, il Fondo Unico Giustizia, coordinated by Equitalia Giustizia, according to the law of 2008 (art. 2, decreto legge 143/2008). The introduction of these assets into the system must, however, receive another approval: from the Agenzia Nazionale per l’amministrazione e la destinazione dei beni confiscati alla criminalità organizzata (National Agency for the Administration and Destination of Patrimonies Confiscated from Criminal Organizations), which is run by the Home Office. The agency has the goal of returning the confiscated mafia patrimonies to the collective whole and reusing them for social objectives.

Over the course of 2013, Invitalia sanctioned 190 million euros for startups in southern Italy. It was a sum that exceeded the requests, so much so that only 34.7 million has been distributed as of April of this year. Are another billion euros really what we need when 190 million can’t even be allocated? “The fund would not just cover startups, but all enterprises, with a particular eye on innovative ones”, explained Salvo Mizzi.

The idea of #22annidopo was actually that of Mizzi’s seventeen-year-old son, Alessandro, who presented his father with all of the data on the patrimonies confiscated by the mafia. “I seized the occasion: must act now!”, he explained.

THE STATE OF INNOVATIVE ENTERPRISES IN ITALY

According to the latest data from the Registro delle Imprese Innovative (Register of Innovative Enterprises), a total of 2048 enterprises are enrolled, with 391 located in the south and on the islands, versus 424 located in the northern region of Lombardy alone. There are 23 companies in Italy registered as certified incubators (but only one located in the south, in Sicily), among which Telecom Italia SpA, the company linked to Working Capital, has already closed its Call for Ideas after having obtained 1,300 candidacies to participate in the acceleration program that will begin in July and to obtain one of the 41 grants (one in honor of Marco Zamperini) worth 25,000 euros.

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