The transformation from start-up to innovative SME
The life of an innovative startup, as is well known, lasts five years. The doubt of every startupper is whether, after this period, the company automatically loses the legal, economic and tax benefits it used as a startup – which we have talked about in detail in the article “what are the benefits for innovative startups?”.
The innovative component as a requirement of continuity
The Italian legal system provides exactly the opposite: startups that maintain the innovative character of their products and services even at the end of 5 years, can “transform” into innovative SMEs – and thus retain most of the benefits they already used – through the application for registration in the special section of the Business Register reserved for innovative SMEs.
The latter, in fact, benefit from most of the measures envisaged for innovative startups, since they represent the second evolutionary stage of a sequential process, which intends to support the growth path of companies with a clear technological component, in all phases of their cycle. vital.
Therefore, what are the essential formal requirements that a startup must possess to transform itself into an innovative SME? Can an already established company become an innovative SME? How does the company register in the special section of the business register? What are the benefits provided?
The essential requirements of an innovative SME
Art. 4 of Law Decree No. 3 of 2015 (converted into Law 33/2015) provides that a company must possess the following essential requirements in order to apply for registration in the special section of the Business Register reserved for innovative SMEs:
- is a joint stock company, also established in a cooperative form:
- employing fewer than 250 people;
- whose annual turnover does not exceed € 50 million, or the balance sheet total does not exceed € 43 million;
- is resident in Italy, or in another country of the European Economic Area, but with a production site or branch in Italy;
- has carried out the certification of the latest financial statements and any consolidated financial statements, drawn up by an auditor or by an auditing company registered in the register of auditors;
- is not listed on a regulated market;
- is not simultaneously registered in the special section of innovative startups.
Finally, a SME is innovative if it meets at least 2 of the following 3 subjective requirements:
- has incurred R&D and innovation expenses for at least 3% of the higher value between turnover and cost of production;
- employing highly qualified personnel: at least 1/5 of PhDs, PhD students or researchers; or at least 1/3 with a master’s degree;
- is the owner, custodian or licensee of at least one patent or owner of a registered software.
Registration in the special register of innovative SMEs
The requirements for becoming an innovative SME, therefore, are very similar to those for registration in the register of innovative startups. However, to formally become an innovative SME, it is necessary to obtain registration in the special section reserved for SMEs.
The procedure is slightly different, depending on whether the company is already registered (or not) in the special section of the Business Register dedicated to innovative startups.
- In the first case, the startup that meets the requirements to become an innovative SME must:
- request in advance cancellation from the special section reserved for innovative startups and registration in the special section of innovative SMEs, without interruption;
- transmit electronically (with the software “Comunicazione Unica”) to the territorially competent Chamber of Commerce a declaration of self-certification of possession of the aforementioned requirements (download it here).
- In the second case, on the other hand, a company in possession of the aforementioned requirements, wishing to obtain registration in the special section of the register of innovative SMEs, must transmit the same electronically (with the software “Comunicazione Unica”) to the competent Chamber of Commerce declaration referred to in the aforementioned point 1), letter b) (download it here).
The facilities provided for innovative SMEs
Becoming an innovative SME and registering in the special register is worthwhile.
In Italy, innovative SMEs benefit from (almost) all the concessions enjoyed by innovative startups, including:
- Tax incentives in favor of subjects who invest in the capital of innovative SMEs.
- Free and simplified access to the Guarantee Fund (for SMEs).
- Exemption from stamp duties for documents filed with the Chamber of Commerce.
- Possibility of acquiring capital through equity crowdfunding campaigns (which we have already talked about in a previous article. Click here to read it).
- Business internationalization services (ICE)
- Exceptions to ordinary corporate discipline.
- Extension of the deadline for covering losses.
- Derogation from the regulation on shell companies and systematic loss companies.
- Remuneration through equity participation instruments;
as well as the measures introduced in response to the covid-19 emergency:
- Support for venture capital
- Extension of the guarantee for the central guarantee fund for SMEs.
In the article mentioned at the beginning, all the concessions provided for innovative startups were analytically indicated (click here to read it). However, an article will be published shortly on the facilities provided specifically for innovative SMEs.
The importance of legal and tax support
The paperwork to become an innovative SME does not require a long time, but certainly requires a preliminary assessment of the requirements and particular attention to the compilation and submission of the declaration.
For this reason, we advise all entrepreneurs to carefully consider whether to deal independently with all the legal and tax practices indicated above, or if they consider it safer to rely on serious, qualified professionals with proven experience in business consultancy.
Our Law Firm, thanks to the expertise and experience in consulting and assistance to innovative start-ups and SMEs, both in the legal, tax and corporate fields:
- provides all entrepreneurs interested in transforming their company into an innovative SME, a preliminary assessment on the existence of all legal requirements and specific assistance in carrying out the registration procedures in the special register;
- manages the file until the end, representing you before the Chamber of Commerce and all public bodies.
Contact us immediately at number +39 0683521985 or +39 3711453121, or write to us at email@example.com to help your company becoming an innovative SME!