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Support for innovative Start-ups

Invitalia’s Smart&Start Program, promoted by Mise, has implemented new support for innovation in the field of the digital economy, artificial intelligence, the blockchain, and the Internet of Things

by Marcello Ortenzi
July - August - September 2020 | Back


The Relaunch Decree (Law no. 77 of July 17, 2020) was adopted to implement an organic system of incentives for innovative companies’ investments, keeping in mind the Covid-19 emergency. In particular, the Smart&Start- Program - aimed at encouraging the birth and growth of innovative start-ups throughout the country - has been strengthened with new interventions and procedures. A refinancing of 100 million euros is expected in 2020. The scope of intervention of the measure has been extended to allow worthy start-ups to consolidate their development through contributions in terms of equity capital and private and institutional investors. Also, the extension of the non-refundable grant, in the measure of 30% of the loan for innovative start-ups of the seismic crater in Central Italy (art. 38), is appreciated. Therefore, converting the debt into a participatory tool will be possible, along with the entry into the share capital of an investor and/or capital increase itself, whose return will be linked to the company’s return. Moreover, the measure provides for the activation of a non-refundable grant for the acquisition of services provided by these entities and the capital strengthening of innovative start-ups, also providing incentives for investment in start-ups by qualified investors; and also provides for incentives under “de minimis scheme” for those investing in start-ups and innovative SMEs. As a matter of fact, some measures are planned to drive participation in innovative companies’ capital: tax incentives for investments made by natural and legal persons in start-ups and innovative SMEs through a higher investment cut, tax benefits of 30% up to 1 million euros for natural persons and 30% up to 1.8 million for legal persons; support from  the National Innovation Fund with direct and indirect investments in  qualified minorities in the capital of innovative companies through generalist Funds, vertical Funds or Funds of Funds, to support start-ups, scaleups and innovative SMEs; new special tax zone exclusively for individuals who invest in start-ups or innovative SMEs with a tax deduction equal to 50% of the taxpayer’s amount in the share capital of one or more start-ups or innovative SMEs directly or through collective investment schemes that invest mainly in such companies.

The maximum investment deductible cannot exceed, for each tax period, the amount of  300,000 euros and must be kept for at least three years. Smart&Start’s aid funds business plans with expenses ranging from 100 thousand to 1.5 million euros, for the purchase of capital goods and services, and personnel and operating costs. Funds will be given on a first-come, first-served basis: there are no rankings, and applications are examined according to the chronological order of arrival. Invitalia evaluates the business plan, grants funding, and monitors the implementation of the projects. It targets micro or small enterprises established no more than 60 months ago and registered in the Register of Companies’ special section dedicated to innovative start-ups. Also, teams of people can apply for funding, provided that they form a partnership within 30 days following admission to the benefits. Also foreign companies that agree to establish at least one office on the Italian territory and foreign citizens holding a Visa start up can obtain the benefits. Here some examples of business plan expenses: brand new plant, machinery, and equipment, hardware and software components, personnel costs, services needed to carry out the company’s activities, hosting, and housing, etc. Business plan expenses must be covered within 24 months after signing. The application is submitted exclusively online through the Invitalia website:


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