A step forward, with resources and important innovations, but perhaps not sufficient to support the startup ecosystem. The Relaunch Decree just launched - total 55 billion of resources for the reconstruction of the country shaken by the lockdown and the pandemic emergency - it also contains funds for startups and venture capital, which had moved asking the executive a kidney stroke to make innovation the cornerstone of the post-Covid strategy.
«The maneuver for the startup ecosystem is essentially structured on three measures - summarized the president of the Italia Startup association, Angelo Coletta -: the 200 million of the Venture Capital Support Fund; the 200 million for startups and innovative SMEs within the guarantee fund; the additional 100 million for the subsidized financing of the "Smart & Start" call. Interventions that we certainly consider useful and positive but that require long times to be placed on the market ».
Among the measures also announced by Press release of the government, the Relaunch Decree also provides for the establishment of a fund, the "First Playable Fund", with an initial allocation of 4 million euros in 2020 for developers of video games. But let's go in order. What are the main measures of the maneuver for startups?
The measures of article 46
Everything is contained in article 46 of the Relaunch Decree, dedicated to strengthening the ecosystem of innovative startups. In order of reading, we start from 100 million euros of additional resources which are destined «to refinance the concessions granted in the form of subsidized financing»; again for the current year, the 55 billion maneuver provides for a total sum of 10 million euros in the form of grants that young businesses will be able to use to access services from the entire network of "incubators, accelerators, innovation hubs, business angels and other public or private entities operating for the development of innovative businesses".
Support for startups requires not only help from entrepreneurs, but also from those who finance companies with high risk rates. For this reason Palazzo Chigi has foreseen that al Venture capital support fund, established in 2018, an additional 200 million euros are to be earmarked for 2020. On this point, however, it will be necessary to wait for the implementation decree of the Ministry of Economic Development to identify "the methods for implementing the facilities provided for in this paragraph, including the relationship of co -investment in resources ».
Also in article 46 of the Relaunch Decree, the contribution in research and development by the ecosystem: in a nutshell the term "innovative startups" is added to a law already in force - number 160 of 27 December 2019 - after the words "universities and research centers".
Earthquake areas and timing
According to the last quarterly report published by MISE, just over 11 thousand innovative startups in Italy and of these almost 30% is based in Lombardy. However, there are territorial contexts where, even before the outbreak of the epidemic, economic difficulties were a brake on innovation. This is why the Relaunch Decree provided that all the facilities for startups in the areas affected by the earthquake were "extended to the" Territory of the seismic crater of central Italy ", that is, the territory of the municipalities affected by the seismic events of 2016 and 2017".
The concern of the trade associations, such as Italia Startup, however, lies in the timing. "The relaunch decree - added Coletta - contains some useful interventions, but cuts measures that could affect the life of startups and innovative SMEs in the short term". Among the requests of trade associations such as Italia Startup (also supported by Assolombarda) there was also an enhancement of the "Smart & Start" call - the "main national facilitating instrument aimed at this type of company, established by the decree of the Minister of Economic Development 24 September 2014" as stated in the Relaunch Decree - on which Palazzo Chigi has intended additional 100 million.
Video games, the support fund makes its debut
During the lockdown, the video game sector was often discussed, especially highlighting the turnover of a sector that has struggled to make its way in Italy, but which in recent years has also seen the emergence of startups and independent realities of great value. Second IIDEA data (Italian Interactive Digital Entertainment Association) the overall gaming market in Italy had a 1.7% growth from 2018 to 2019 with a turnover of over 1.7 billion euros. In support of this world of employment - made up of professionals and software houses - a support fund is set up for the first time.
The First Playable Fund, endowed with 4 million euros for 2020, "is aimed at supporting the phases of conception and pre-production of videogames, necessary for the creation of prototypes, through the provision of grants, recognized to the extent of 50 percent of the eligible expenses, and for an amount from 10,000 euros to 200,000 euros per single prototype ».
Alessandro Di Stefano