EmiliaRomagnaStartUp is a reference platform for startup communities in Italy. Funded by the Emilia-Romagna Regional Government and implemented by ASTER, the consortium for innovation and technology transfer of the Emilia-Romanga Region, it is a key instrument to diffuse policies and initiatives for the startup community. The platform was launched in 2011 to gather main regional players and improve the visibility of the two main target groups: existing startups and business support organisations.
EmiliaRomagnaStartUp supports and gives a voice to the startup community in the region and addresses several of their challenges faced. It is often the case that new startups and entrepreneurs have a business plan or idea, however would benefit greatly from professional expert support to validate the soundness of the plan as well as provide support in the main business areas such as accountancy and legal support. Hence there is a need to guide these startups in the right direction, and in many cases guide them to organisations which can provide support in their growth through accelerators, business incubators and co-working spaces for example. Intermediary organisations have access to a variety of these services, therefore disseminating them to the correct target audiences is key.
EmiliaRomagnaStartUp is the main regional platform for startups and entrepreneurs, gathering innovative startups and business support organisations providing a range of tools. Usage of the platform is free of charge for the users and enables them to find and connect to other startups, business support or intermediary organisations and experts. Furthermore, it maps the various locations in the Emilia-Romagna Region in which dedicated physical spaces have been created for these startups, including descriptions on the specific characteristics of each location which can be useful for a startup when making a decision on housing. Finally, the platform has a dedicated space for the dissemination of all relevant funding opportunities for startups at the regional, national and European level.
Prior to the implementation and publishing of the online platform, a feasibility study was conducted covering an analysis of similar initiatives in other regions or countries which was followed up by a promotional campaign targeting startups and the intermediary organisations in Emilia-Romagna. The platform currently has an impressive registry of businesses, however there is a challenge in ensuring regular growth in terms of new opportunities which are connected to the platform. In order to address this, ASTER, the organisation in charge of the development of the platform and the updates which are rolled out, developed and added an English section to the platform in 2015. This was done to support the work that is being conducted by ASTER in San Francisco in the United States through the Silicon Valley Mindset Programme, a mobility programme for Emilia-Romagna startups looking to participate in acceleration paths in Silicon Valley.
The Results and Benefits
The platform fulfilled a pioneering role in the region when it was launched in 2011 and remains the most advanced platform for startups in the region. Due to the interest from direct users and policy makers, EmiliaRomagnaStartUp has evolved into a central tool for the Regional Government and ecosystem members to test new policies and gather feedback from users in an efficient manner. Over the years, the platform has been able to acquire good visibility at both the national and international level, helping the Emilia-Romagna Regional Government and ASTER develop new collaborations to offer services for startups in the area of internationalisation. The platform currently has approximately 600 registered startups and 80 intermediary organisations, attracting 17.000 visitors per month.