On 17 October 2019, a new decree from the Ministry of Economic Development on innovative start-ups facilitations was published in the Italian Official Journal, which modifies the old scheme by making the access, granting and disbursement procedures for facilitated loans both easier and faster.

The subsided loans may be granted to innovative start-ups, registered in the special register, which have been established for no more than 60 months and provided that they have submitted a business project with significant technological and innovative content, or aimed at developing products, services or solutions in the field of the digital economy, artificial intelligence, blockchain and the internet of things. Alternatively, the business project may also be aimed at the financial appreciation of the achievements of the public and private research systems.

In relation to expenses eligible for relief, a minimum of 100,000 euros and a maximum of 1,500,000 euros related to material fixed assets (such as plant, machinery and technological equipment) and functional or necessary intangibles services that are functional to the project and directly related to the production needs of the company itself (such as incubation and business acceleration and those related to marketing and web-marketing).

The application may also be made before the company is incorporated, by natural persons (including foreign nationals in possession of the so-called “start-up visa”) interested in setting up an innovative start-up: in such a case, the incorporation of the new company will be required only after the application is approved. Foreign companies which undertake in setting up at least one branch in Italy may also be eligible for the benefits.

Innovative start-ups complying with these requirements will be eligible for interest-free subsidised funding, for an amount equal to 80% of the eligible costs for implementing the business project, in accordance with the Decree. Such financing does not require the provision of guarantees and may have a maximum duration of 10 years and will be redeemable in bi-annual instalments.

As for innovative start-ups located in the regions of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily, the subsidised financing shall only be partially repaid by the beneficiary company, for an amount equal to 70% of the granted loan.

Moreover, in the cases of innovative start-ups which, on the date of application for the granting of benefits, are entirely composed of young people aged below 35 and/or women, or provides for the presence of at least one expert with the title of research doctor or equivalent for no more than 6 years and permanently engaged abroad in research or teaching activities for at least three years, the amount of subsidized financing will rise to 90% of the eligible costs.

The facilitations may be requested by connecting to an online portal managed by INVITALIA, where it is possible to fill in the application form, upload the business plan and attach the necessary documents.