National incentives for start-ups and SMEs: the guide updated to August 2022

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National incentives for start-ups and SMEs: the guide updated to August 2022

National incentives for start-ups and SMEs: the guide updated to August 2022

How to create a start-up company in Italy? What are the main ways to finance it?

In this article you will find all the calls or measures currently in force, or which will be available in the coming months that the Italian State reserve for innovative start-ups, to support them in the start-up phase and in the sustainable development of the business project.

Incentives currently in force

Among the most relevant incentives at italian level, there are certainly:

1) Smart & Start Italy

Probably the most important measure, because it allows innovative start-ups to obtain a zero-interest loan, without any guarantee, to cover 80% of eligible expenses between € 100,000 and € 1.5 million, for the purchase of capital goods, services, personnel expenses and business operating costs.

This percentage can rise to 90% if the start-up:

  • is made up entirely of women and/or young people under 36;
  • or if among the members there is an expert with the title of Italian PhD (or equivalent), who works abroad and wants to return to Italy.

Furthermore, start-ups based in the Regions Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily and in the seismic crater of Central Italy, can enjoy a non-repayable grant equal to 30% of the loan and thus return only 70% of the funding received.

  • To find out more, read the full article on our website.
  • To submit your application for admission to the call immediately, click here.
  • Call deadline: until resources are exhausted.

2) Funds for investment in innovative start-ups

a) National Innovation Fund

The italian Ministry of Economic Development has allocated 200 million euros in favor of the National Innovation Fund (FNI) – the public fund to support Venture Capital – to encourage investments in the capital of start-ups and innovative SMEs by of qualified individuals.

What are the entry requirements?

Investments must be aimed at those start-ups and innovative SMEs that are carrying out investment rounds or that have already carried out one, at the latest in the six months prior to the entry into force of the Relaunch Decree.

Through the FNI, resources can be disbursed up to a maximum of 4 times the value of the investment by private investors, up to an overall limit of 1 million for each individual start-up or innovative SME.

  • To find out more, read the full article on our website.
  • To send their application to the FNI, interested innovative start-ups/SMEs cannot do it directly, but only through their investors, by clicking here.
  • Deadline of the call: until resources are exhausted.

b) National Fund for Energy Efficiency (FNEE)

The FNEE is an incentive provided by the MISE and the Ministry of the Environment, which aims to support the implementation of interventions aimed at ensuring the achievement of the energy efficiency objectives set by the Kyoto Protocol, by companies, Energy service companies – ESCo (consisting of at least 2 years; in single or associated/aggregate form as Consortia, Network Contracts and ATI) and Public Administration.

For companies and ESCOs, the concessions are granted, upon presentation of the request through banks or financial intermediaries, in the form:

  • financing, to cover a maximum of 70% of the subsidized costs, for amounts between 250,000 and 4,000,000 euros;
  • guarantee, on individual financing transactions (including capital and interest) to cover up to 80% of eligible costs for amounts from 150,000 to 2,500,000 euros.

The funded interventions are:

  • the reduction of energy consumption in industrial processes;
  • the construction and/or implementation of district heating and cooling networks and systems;
  • the efficiency of public services and infrastructures, including public lighting;
  • the energy requalification of buildings.

Eligible expenses are those for:

  • consulting services;
  • plant, machinery and equipment;
  • interventions on the building envelope;
  • specific infrastructures.

  • To find out more, read the full article on our website
  • To submit your application immediately, click here.
  • Deadline of the call: the incentive is at the counter; applications are examined on the basis of the order of arrival; there are no rankings or deadlines.

3) Digital Transformation

The Digital trasformation call was provided for by the Growth Decree to support the technological and digital transformation of the production processes of micro and SMEs in possession of certain requirements and operating mainly or primarily in the sectors:

  • manufacturing;
  • direct services to manufacturing companies;
  • tourism and / or commerce;

through the implementation of projects that implement the enabling technologies identified in the National Business Plan 4.0 (eg: (advanced manufacturing solutions, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, big data and analytics, etc.), as well as other technologies relating to digital supply chain solutions.

This call finances projects for amounts up to € 100 million, on the basis of a nominal percentage of eligible costs and expenses equal to 50%, of which 10% in the form of a grant and 40% as a subsidized loan.

  • To find out more, read the full article on our website.
  • To submit your application for admission to the call immediately, click here.
  • Deadline of the call: until resources are exhausted.

4) Calls for the development of industrial property (trademarks, patents, designs, etc.):

a) Patents + 2022

Patents 2022 is a measure which provides for the granting of non-repayable grants to micro companies and SMEs, intended to purchase the following specialized services, necessary to enhance and economically exploit patents on the national and/or international:

  • design, engineering and industrialization;
  • organization and development;
  • technology transfer.

The concessions – granted under the de minimis regime – are disbursed in the form of a non-repayable capital contribution (therefore without the obligation to repay), up to a maximum of € 140,000.00, which cannot exceed 80% of the eligible costs.

  • To find out more, read the full article on our website.
  • Interested companies can submit the application form starting from 12:00 on 27 September 2022, exclusively online, on the special web page (click here) prepared by Invitalia, which contains all the instructions to follow.
  • Deadline of the measure: until resources are exhausted.

b) Patent box

It is a facilitated taxation regime that can be chosen by all the holders of business income deriving from the use of copyrighted software, industrial patents and designs/models.

Furthermore, companies that carry out research and development activities (therefore also many innovative start-ups) can exclude from the tax base 50% of the income deriving from:

  • the use, even jointly, of the aforementioned intangible assets (software protected by copyright, industrial patents, etc.);
  • the sale of the same, if 90% of the “proceeds” are reinvested in the maintenance or development of other intangible assets before the end of the second tax period following the one in which the sale took place.

  • To find out more, read the full article on our website.
  • Deadline of the measure: no deadline.

5) Rest in the South (Italy)

Rest in the South (Italy) is the incentive that supports the birth and development of new businesses and freelancers in Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily and in the 116 municipalities located in the areas of the seismic crater of Central Italy.

The measure:

  • is aimed at those aged between 18 and 55 and companies operating in the sectors of industry, crafts, processing of agricultural products, fishing and aquaculture; provision of services to businesses and individuals; tourism.
  • covers up to 100% of expenses, with:
    • a maximum loan of 50,000 euros for each applicant, which can reach up to 200,000 euros in the case of companies consisting of four shareholders;
    • a maximum loan of 60,000 euros, only for companies exercised individually with a single proponent;
    • an additional non-repayable grant:
      • 15,000 euros for sole proprietorships and professional activities carried out individually
      • up to a maximum of 40,000 euros for companies.

  • To submit your application immediately, click here.
  • Deadline of the call: until resources are exhausted.

Applications are evaluated in chronological order of arrival within 60 days from the date of submission (except for any requests for integration of documents).

Invitalia verifies the possession of the requisites and then examines the initiatives on the merits, also through an interview with the proposers.

6) Circular economy

Circular economy is the incentive that favors the conversion of production activities towards an economy model aimed at maintaining the value of products, materials and resources over time and at minimizing the production of waste.

The measure:

  • is aimed at companies of any size under ordinary accounting, which carry out industrial, agro-industrial, artisan activities, services to industry and research centers, which have at least two approved and filed financial statements (or, for sole proprietorships and partnerships, at least two tax returns submitted). For joint projects only, public and private research organizations are also admitted as co-proponents.
  • Supports industrial research and experimental development activities, strictly connected to each other in relation to the objective envisaged by the project and aimed at the creation of new products, processes or services or the significant improvement of existing products, processes or services.
  • Consists of:
    • subsidized loans from the Revolving Fund for Enterprises and Research (FRI), up to 50% of the expenses and eligible costs;
    • contributions to expenditure, to the extent of the following percentages of eligible expenses and costs:
      • 20% for micro and small enterprises and research organizations
      • 15% for medium-sized enterprises
      • 10% for large compagnie
  • Applications can be submitted by companies exclusively online, even jointly, from Monday to Friday (10.00-19.00), by clicking here. To pre-fill and submit the application it is necessary:
    • be in possession of a SPID * identity to access the dedicated platform
  • Deadline of the call: until resources are exhausted.

7) Digital export bonus

The Bonus for Digital Export is a project that aims to support manufacturing micro-enterprises in their internationalization activities through digital solutions.

The measure consists of a grant for the purchase of digital solutions useful for internationalization such as, for example:

  • creation of e-commerce sites and/or mobile apps;
  • implementation of a communication, information and promotion strategy to amplify the online presence through digital marketing activities (e-commerce, campaigns, social presence) suitable for the sector of competence
  • consultancy services for the development of organizational processes and human capital
  • registration and / or subscription to SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms for managing visibility and content marketing expenses.

The grant is granted on a de minimis basis, for the following amounts:

  • € 4,000 to micro-enterprises for eligible expenses of no less than € 5,000, net of VAT;
  • € 22,500 to networks and consortia against eligible costs of no less than € 25,000, net of VAT;

and is disbursed in a single installment following reporting of the expenses incurred at supplier companies registered in the dedicated list.

  • Applications can be submitted by the legal representative of the requesting companies, exclusively online, through the website

You must be in possession of SPID, active PEC box and digital signature.

  • Deadline of the call: until resources are exhausted.

The next calls

Measurements on site

Among the measures already approved, but for which a start date has not yet been foreseen, we point out Enea Tech.

ENEA Tech is a Foundation supervised by the MISE, which has the mission of investing in innovative and emerging technologies of national strategic interest and on a global scale, through the Technology Transfer Fund.

Through the tender of the same name, Enea Tech invites research institutions, universities, entrepreneurs, startups and innovative SMEs, operating in the Deep Tech, Healthcare, Green, Energy & Circular Economy, Information Technology sectors to present their ideas and technologies.

The best projects are financed through intervention instruments such as equity, quasi-equity, convertibles, grants and purchase contracts, with convertible options.

The next updates

Our “incentives for companies” page periodically updates you with all the most relevant measures for innovative start-ups (click here to open it).

The importance of legal and tax support

How to choose between all these incentives?

Our advice, especially in the early stages, is to rely on serious, qualified professionals with proven experience in business consultancy, who will guide you with confidence in choosing the safest financing methods and in line with your commercial strategy.

Our Firm, thanks to the expertise and experience in consulting and assistance to start-ups, both in the legal and commercial and corporate fields:

  • provides all entrepreneurs interested in creating their own start-up or defining an optimal business strategy, advice and specific assistance in bureaucratic and commercial practices;
  • assists its customers in the market analysis phase, in the preparation of the business plan and in the search for the economic resources necessary to finance the start-up;
  • supports the company at every stage of development, recommending the best commercial and legal strategies to be implemented.

Contact us immediately at the numbers +39 0683521985 or +39 3711453121, or write to us at for specific advice.

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