Di seguito la prefazione al documento del ministero dello sviluppo economico, redatto in inglese, a firma del capo della segreteria tecnica del ministero dello sviluppo economico Stefano Firpo. Il documento sarà presentato il 24 ottobre allo Smau di Milano.
One year has passed since “The Italian Startup Ecosystem: Who’s Who” was first released. Over this time span, a world of things has happened, within and outside our startup scene.
Many young Italians have decided to take the risk and start their own innovative business. Angel investors and VCs have analyzed thousands of business plans. Startup competitions have taken place in innumerable cities throughout the country. A vast array of groundbreaking ideas have been forged and Italy’s registered innovative startups have more than duplicated.
At the same time, European Parliament elections have been held and changed the layout of our continent’s politics. Italy itself has experienced a change in the government. A new experimental initiative, called Startup Europe Partnership, aimed at strengthening the ties between traditional industries and high-tech startups has been launched at EU level.
While this multifaceted blend of events has taken place, one thing has “stood its ground”: the Italian Government’s commitment to support the national startup ecosystem.
This commitment materialized, a couple of years ago, with the launch of a sound package of norms affecting all the players making up the Italian Startup Ecosystem, notably our innovative startups, to be supported in any phase of their lifecycle.
As you might know, thanks to Law 221 passed in December 2012, Italy’s innovative startups have been given the chance to:
- register online, for free; apply a tailor-made labor law within their team;
- remunerate team members and consultants with stock options and work for equity schemes with favorable and simple capital gain tax treatment;
- pay variable salaries depending on the company’s performance so as to incentivize workers;
- benefit from more flexible corporate governance tools;
- access to equity crowdfunding portals (first specific set of regulations in the world!);
- have a fast-track, simplified and free-of-charge access to a government guarantee fund covering 80% of bank loans; and, in case things go wrong, make use of a fail-fast procedure, allowing the entrepreneur to start a new business project as soon as possible without suffering reputational cost.
Of no less importance is the fact that angel investors and VCs can profit by tax incentives ranging from 19 to 27% for investments in such companies, a measure that ranks us among the friendliest places where to invest in new innovative businesses.
Last year’s edition of “The Italian Startup Ecosystem: Who’s Who” already reported these measures, but there are more news!
- Firstly, everything I just mentioned, without any exception, has come into force and is tangibly unleashing its potential, supporting our 2.716 innovative startups. In fact, some of these tools required special implementing regulations, including a complex notification to the EU Commission for the mentioned tax incentives on investment. Done.
- Secondly, new bricks have been added to the wall. In fact, in the last few months, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development has been feverishly engaged in improving the context in which innovative startups operate.
Eager to create new enabling conditions for the development of our startup ecosystem, we launched the Italia Startup Visa program, aimed at attracting innovative entrepreneurs from all over the world. A healthy startup ecosystem needs to be constantly fueled with new skills and talents as well as multiply its commingling to other innovation scenes: this is what is happening thanks to Italia Startup Visa.
Red tape and tax burdens too have been at our gunpoint: whereas other companies are not, innovative startups are exempted from stamp duty and administration fees associated with the Italian company register. Such exemption covers all the actions carried out by the innovative startups after their registration to the company register, such as incentivised capital increases, for example.
Albert Einstein once said that “everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted”. We would never dare to contradict good old Albert, but in the case of innovative startups, we believe we are in the presence of a phenomenon that counts, and needs to be counted.
It’s a matter of accountability and cultural awareness.
Accountability: since the very beginning, we decided that our startup policy had to be evidence-based. This is why last January we set up a monitoring and evaluation committee. And this is why our startup register is open, free and updated every Monday morning. We want to be accountable for our policies, we want to be judged on our measurable results, we want to show that we have illustrated above is no pie in the sky. This report is a precious ally in this challenge.
Cultural awareness: most Italians still ignore the startup phenomenon. Some others have a mystified vision of it. We think that this report can help persuade them that startups are about employment, technology, innovation, economic growth, and supporting startups means planting new seeds for our future well-being.
Many challenges are yet ahead.
The existing gap between our schooling system and our companies needs to be bridged; the ties between traditional corporates and new innovative startups increased so as to inject innovation within our entrepreneurial fabric. Just to mention a few.
But we are bold enough to think that, with the help of you all, we can surmount these obstacles quickly. Actually, the study of some other measures and tools is already under way… but the time for this foreword has run out and we do not want to spoil the surprise for 2016’s edition of “The Italian Startup Ecosystem: Who’s Who”.