On the initiative of the Minister of Economic Development Luigi Di Maio, the National Innovation Fund (FNI) was created in Italy. According to the 2019 Budget Law, it has an initial financial budget of about 1 billion euros. Thus, it represents the operational tool through which the State can invest, with Venture Capital operations, on companies and startups. The FNI was included in the Official Gazette with the decree of 27 June 2019, which defines a series of interventions to encourage the flow of risk capital towards new businesses. The goal is to bring together public and private resources for the innovation sector.
The appointments of the 6 candidate directors for the FNI were announced by the board of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti on 26th November, 2019. Enrico Resmini was appointed to the position of managing director of the Fund, while the other candidates for directors are Pierpaolo Di Stefano, Marco Bellezza, Isabella de Michelis of Slonghello, Lucia Calvosa and Antonio Margiotta.
The operational tool used by the National Innovation Fund is the venture capital, meaning a whole the investments, both direct and indirect, in qualified minorities within the capital of innovative companies, aiming at supporting start-ups and innovative SMEs.
In a study made by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development, it is possible to read: “Innovation and an adequate support to the entire sector of innovative companies is essential to guarantee Italy the opportunity to grow, compete, generate new opportunities for qualified work, create and distribute new wealth uniformly throughout the territory. Without these elements, a country is not able to grow stably and sustainably, especially in a sector such as the innovation, nowadays dominated by foreign (usually extra-European) operators, largely supported by markets, investors and large public and private entities.”
Among the set priorities there are, first of all, investments for artificial intelligence and blockchain systems, for which, in the last three years, about 45 million euros have already been invested. Other strategic sectors for Venture Capital interventions will be the industry 4.0, the agritech and foodtech sectors, healthcare and fintech. Moreover, it will be ensured greater support for Made in Italy and to defend the interest in the non-dispersion of national talent and intellectual property, often supported more abroad than in Italy. Minister Luigi Di Maio said that “by the National Innovation Fund and the other measures for digital trasformation implemented in our first year of government, we want to turn Italy a country more favourable to innovation by bringing back the many startups founded by Italians, but that operate in other European and non-European countries. We continue to work constantly for the future, for the good of our country and our young people, who with their ideas constitute and will form the backbone of the Italian economy “.
The founder of the Venture Capital fund P101 and member of the StartupItalia advisory board, Andrea Di Camillo, comments: “The initiatives of the last few months have been going in the direction of consolidating the positive trend that recorded in Italy in the last 2 years and at least partially filling the “monstrous” gap that Italy still has towards other European economies, without mentioning US or Chinese. From our point of view of, as operators, we believe that the more these resources will be invested in order to allow us to attract institutional investors on this asset class now or in the future, the more we will be able to lay the foundations for a healthy and stable Venture Capital market. And therefore, we will able to develop a channel for the financing of new entrepreneurship and innovation that will help our economy to remain competitive in the face of the technological changes that have upset industries in recent years “.
The general principles of the FNI
It is undeniable that the Italian ecosystem suffers from cultural and structural delays. This fund represents the chance to create new growth opportunities, to rebalance the gender gap, promoting a greater and more qualified female presence, as well as to offer territories and regional financials the opportunity to contribute to a great national and global challenge. Let’s see together the principles of the National Innovation Fund.
In the past 20 years, innovation has been causing the crisis of several traditional sectors on a global scale. This also led to job losses and growing inequalities. The objective of the FNI is to ensure strategic support for companies and incentives for startups, to be able to face the challenges of digitization and to oversee the most innovative emerging technologies and markets.
The National Innovation Fund is intended to support and develop an innovation ecosystem that attracts private and international capital, in addition to public resources. All at the service of the community, without any discrimination between north and south Italy.
Italy aspires to achieve a leadership role in the knowledge economy, to be able to contribute to major global challenges. With its initial budget (€ 1 billion), the National Innovation Fund is one of the main European Venture Capital operators. The ambition to play a leading role is evident.
The right to innovate is a fundamental right. Through this fund we try to support a technological innovation that is accessible to everyone: businesses, citizens and territory. The reason is simple: innovation represents, for each country, a powerful tool for growth and social mobility.
The FNI expresses the support of the Italian state, towards national talents that can contribute to the growth of the country.
The expected impact
Italy is moving towards the natural growth of the private market, thanks to the attraction of new investors, including international ones. The aim is to make Italy one of the most competitive countries in Europe within 2 years.
Italy can become a smart nation and this represents not only a financial goal, but also a political, social and cultural one. Success is linked to the provision of benefits for startups, a rebalancing of inequalities and the generation of new opportunities for new generations and new talents, which will be the driving force of a country that has understood the importance of looking to the future.