10 years ago, there were big startup programmes in Italy. To push the economy, individuals and the country, the government felt the urge to push for a programme to kick-start and initiate a programme to promote sustainable growth.

Initially, the main goal was to promote enhancing the social mobility, generate new employment, and strengthen the cooperation between businesses and universities. Ultimately, the main target was to attract investment from foreign countries.

Written by Elise Lynch

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In 2012, the government decided to implement legislation to promote to upcoming of growth of new ventures, startups and small companies geared towards innovation.

This was called the Decree-Law 179/2021.

ISA: The requirements

The ISA specifically addresses innovative startups, i.e. newly established companies with a strong nexus to technological innovation.

No other boundaries are set: innovative startups can operate in any business sector, including agriculture, energy and manufacturing.


Incubators and accelerators are two very well-known platforms that help startups develop at different stages.

According to the latest report Impatto degli incubatori e acceleratori italiani (Impact of Italian accelerators and incubators), published by the Social Innovation Monitor research team, based in Turin, in Italy there are 197 business incubators and accelerators which are currently active. The researchers were able to gather information about 81 of them.

Scaling in Italy (and Europe)

In 2019 Italy saw that €672 M were invested, which equals to roughly 0,38% of the country’s nominal GDP in 2019.

The main hotspot in Italy for startups is Milan with 78 scale ups which was 44% of the total scale ups in Italy. 719.2 Million of capital was raised.

Startups and COVID-19

Hopes are high that the innovation ecosystem will return to pre-covid levels in 2022.

Overall, startups have shown great resilience, with startups and investors in innovation having less devastating consequences than the goliaths of companies, which were less agile.

Some difficulties were also mentioned by many entrepreneurs. Lot’s of demand from customers has reduced. Salaries had to be cut and many entrepreneurs sought venture debt. Next to that, liquidity problems were also a common issue. Therefore, many startups use fundraising methods to bridge this gap.

Many governments in Europe used some buffers to subsidize smaller companies to get through these tough times. Moreover, tax collection was reduced or delayed to give businesses some breathing space.

Useful Contacts in the Ecosystem


Address/web Viale Martiri della Libertà 14 – 47521 Cesena – www.cesenalab.it

Main Alma Mater Studiorum Cesena (University)


Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Cesena, Crédit Agricole Italia (Banks)

Comune di Cesena (local administration)

Key info

Created in 2013, certified incubator

Gave birth to 25 Cesena-based companies; created 158 jobs

Its startups gathered €3.2 M

Services include: coworking spaces, Business Angel coaching,

training, matchmaking events


Roberto Pasi – Coordinator

SMILE – Digital Innovation Hub

Address/web Strada al Ponte Caprazucca – 43121 Parma – www.smile-dih.eu

Main partners: Unione Parmense degli Industriali (entrepreneurs association) University of Parma

Key info

  • Striving to create an effective technology transfer between universities and industry
  • Focus on Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) technology and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Quick connection to eight Italian Competence Centers
  • Services include: market ratings, trend analysis, product ratings, Digital Maturity Index assessment o Explicit interest in cooperation with foreign entities


Roberto Buratti – Coordinator

Main incubators

Address/web Corso Castelfidardo 30/A – 10129 Turin – www.i3p.it

Main partners

Polytechnic of Turin (University)

IBM, Microsoft for Startups, FCA (Corporate firms) Banca Popolare di Novara, Intesa Sanpaolo, Gruppo Azimut (Banks and financial entities)

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