National Innovation Fund: the government-sponsored funds to boost the Italian start-up ecosystem

The “National Innovation Fund” (NIF, in Italian: “Fondo Nazionale Innovazione”) is the € 1 billion government-sponsored program to boost the Italian start-up ecosystem.

For more details on the creation of the National Innovation Fund, read: National Innovation Fund: a hope for the Italian venture capital industry?

The program provides the launch of 7 “systemic funds”, managed by Cdp Venture Capital SGR, to create a more mature market

The goal of the 2020-2022 program is to reach € 2.5-3.0 billion of VC-managed capital by 2022.

The 7 systemic funds of the program are the following:

  • Italy Venture I Fund, dedicated to innovative start-ups and SMEs in the digital, biotech, medical and high-tech sectors. The fund has € 80 million under management and it has been active since September 2015;
  • Italy Venture II Fund, dedicated to innovative start-ups and SMEs in the south of Italy. The fund has € 150 million under management and it has been active since August 2019;
  • VenturItaly Fund-of-Fund, with € 300 million under management, active since February 2020;
  • Accelerators Fund, a fund aimed at supporting the growth of start-up accelerators, through direct and indirect investments. The fund has € 125 million under management and was launched in May 2020;
  • Technology Transfer Fund, a € 150 million tech transfer fund launched in October 2020, with the appointment of Claudia Pingue as head of the fund;
  • Boost Innovation Fund, a € 150 million fund aimed at supporting the growth of the corporate venture capital market. The fund was launched in November 2020, with the appointment of Lorenzo Franchini as fund managing partner;
  • A € 100 million Late-Stage Fund will be launched in Q1 2021, in order to support technologies emerging from research institutions and “growth stage” start-ups.

Moreover, in addition to the above, CDP just announced (November 2020) the launch of two additional funds:

  • Motor Valley Accelerator, a program developed with Fondazione di Modena, UniCredit, CRIT, and in partnership with Plug and Play, dedicated to the automotive sector [the Motor Valley is an area in Emilia Romagna]. This is the first of a network of approx. 15-20 accelerators to be launched by 2022, focused on strategic sectors for the Italian economy.
  • Relaunch Fund (Fondo Rilancio), with € 200 million of additional resources provided for by the Relaunch Decree (resources allocated to the Venture Capital Support Fund). The fund invests in innovative start-up and SMEs through the subscription of convertible bonds, and equity for the subsequent fundraising rounds. The fund follows a mechanism in which every euro invested by a private investor is multiplied by 4 by the public. To be qualified for this investment scheme, professional investors (including non-Italian ones) will be required to register on a dedicated website (which will be made public soon). 

For more info on the measures of the Relaunch Decree dedicated to start-ups, read: The measures of the “Relaunch” Decree to strengthen the Italian start-up ecosystem

In addition to its “traditional” financial support, in October 2020 CDP launched two different acceleration projects aimed at supporting SMEs and start-ups with mentoring, networking, and general support services:

  • Acceleratore Imprese, is a professional services platform aimed at high-potential companies. With the free support from a team of professionals international consulting firms and leading Italian universities, companies will be able to plan their own development path.
  • Digital Xcelerator, which provides free e-learning services for active and soon-to-be-launched start-ups. Training courses, technical tools and ad hoc content will be available for all stages of company development, from incubation to scaling-up and international expansion.

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For more info visit: https://en.cdpventurecapital.it