One year after their launch,
The Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) implemented this support tool in order to foster entrepreneurship in the country. The new decree - published in September 2014 - has re-organized this useful incentive for Italian economy, which is devoted to innovative startups and managed by Invitalia. The latter is the National Agency For Investment Promotion And Enterprise Development, entrusted by the Italian government as a partner of choice for integrated and flexible investment solutions.
New Smart&Start has a financial endowment of 200 million euros, open to all Italian regions, not only to the Mezzogiorno and to the disadvantaged areas. Startups can only apply via Internet. Furthermore, some specific conditions are necessary, i.e. enterprises should be not more than 4 years old or not yet constituted.
The maximum financeable amount has been increased from 500 thousand euros to 1,5 million. Moreover, the kind of funding became more bearable for the entrepreneurs. In fact, it will be an interest free loan, which could cover until 70% of the total investment and it could be paid back in 10 years.
There are some other good surprises. Certain categories of companies could get 80% of funding, in particular those who are made up by women, youths or PhD doctors working abroad who decide to go back to Italy. Moreover, for those enterprises located in depressed areas (mostly the South), the 20% of contribution would be free grant.
Last but not least, companies founded from less than 12 months could also benefit from a techno-managerial tutoring with highly specialized services.
Would it be a turning point for Italian static economy and weak entrepreneurship? Not sure. Still, it is a good start which puts in evidence two important categories of people too often neglected, i.e. women and youth.