European Commission - Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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Smart&Start Italy

Policy objectives Plus
Presentation of the measure:

Smart&Start Italy supports the creation and growth of innovative startups all over Italy. It has a total budget of around 200 million euro and funds projects costing up to 1.5 million euro
Smart&Start Italy funds the creation and growth of innovative startups that:

  • have a strong technological dimension
  • operate in the digital economy
  • enhance search results (spin-offs from research)
  • are fundable projects costing between 100,000 euro and 1.5 million euro

Smart&Start Italy offers:

  • interest-free loan up to 70% of the total investment. The percentage of funding may rise to 80% if the start-up is composed exclusively of women or young people under the age of 35, or if it includes at least one Italian PhD who is working abroad and intends to return to Italy.
  • A non-repayable grant amounting to 20% of the loan, only for startups based in Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily and in the “Seismic Crater” area of Aquila.

Startups that have been established for less than one year can use the technical and management support services in the startup phase.

Budget, source and type of funding
National public funds 49,500,000
Regional public funds
EU Structural Funds 45,500,000
Private funds
Form of funding provided
Subsidised loans (including interest allowances)
Policy learning
To what extent the measure can be considered as a success and worthy of policy learning?:
The measure has achieved its intended targets in terms of results (e.g. number of enterprises investing in innovative projects, people trained)
Evidence of outcomes based on evaluation and other evidence:

This measure can boost the entrepreneurship thanks to the support to the birth and the growth of the SMEs. An important factor for reaching this goal is the gap in the provision of finance. A negative factor is the poor weight SMEs have in the national context.

What are the most important “Do’s and Don’ts” that regional stakeholders should be aware of when launching a similar measure?:

The national stakeholders must be sure about the financial gap in the market. The SMEs must face problems in borrowing and/or raising money. Moreover, in the target area there could be a good entrepreneurial and innovative activity. The things that must be avoided when launching this kind of measure is believing that this without collateral activities (e.g. mentorship) could improve the entrepreneurial spirit and activity in the country.

Would you recommend this measure as an example of regional good practice to policy-makers from other regions ?:
Evaluation report(s)