May 3, 2021 Ecosystem

The Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan: key actions to boost innovation

Under the Next Generation EU programme, the Italian Government has prepared the Recovery and Resilience Plan (RRP), which has been handed over to the Parliament.

The Plan mobilises over € 300 billion, the € 210 billion coming from the EU Next Generation programme are complemented by the funds allocated with the 2021-2026 budget planning.

The Italian recovery effort is connected to three strategic axes shared at the European level: digitalisation and innovation, ecological transition and social inclusion.

Here is a list of the most relevant actions and interventions related to innovation matters:

Innovation ecosystems and “territorial R&D champions” (investment: € 1.3 billion)

Financing of 12 existing or new “territorial R&D champions”, which will strengthen existing and create new innovation ecosystems. These territorial R&D champions will be selected based on appropriate competitive procedures.

Each project presented by the territorial R&D champions must significantly include the following elements:

  • innovative training activities carried out in collaboration with universities and enterprises, aimed at reducing the mismatch between the competences required by enterprises and the competencies provided by universities, as well as industrial PhDs;
  • research activities carried out and/or research infrastructures created jointly by universities and enterprises, especially SMEs, operating in the territory;
  • support to startups;
  • involvement of local communities in innovation and sustainability issues.

The selection of projects to be financed will be based on the following criteria:

  • scientific and technical quality and coherence with the territorial vocation;
  • effective ability to stimulate innovation of enterprises, in particular, SMEs;
  • ability to generate national and international relations with important research institutions and leading companies;
  • effective ability to involve local communities.

Venture capital investment in ecological transition (investment: € 250 million)

Introduction of a dedicated fund (“Green Transition Fund”, GTF) focused on specific sectors (e.g., renewables, sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, circular economy, waste treatment, batteries, etc.) and covering the various stages of development. The fund will invest in venture capital funds, in startups and incubators/acceleration programmes with a green focus. The fund will work alongside the most important VC managers and operators in the system.

Integrated research and innovation infrastructures (investment: € 1.58 billion)

Establishment of the Fund for Construction and Research Infrastructures to support the creation of research and innovation infrastructures able to integrate the industrial and academic worlds. The fund will finance up to 30 infrastructure projects (existing or newly funded) of pan-European relevance, promoting the combination of public and private investments.

Start-up financing (€ 300 million)

Additional capital is provided to the National Innovation Fund, to support the development of venture capital in Italy.

The investment will allow supporting 250 innovative small and medium-sized enterprises with investments for a total of € 700 million (average ticket of € 1.2 million).

Innovative PhDs and recruitment of researchers by enterprises (investment: € 600 million)

Strengthening of high-profile competencies, particularly in the areas of the identified key enabling technologies (advanced simulation and big data, quantum computing, environment and energy, biopharma, agritech, fintech, technologies for the digital industrial transition, sustainable mobility, applied technologies and cultural heritage, and technologies for biodiversity).

The Plan provides the activation of 5,000 three-year PhD scholarships with private co-financing, and incentives to enterprises for hiring 20,000 research assistants or researchers.

The creation of a hub for the economic exploitation of PhD research is also planned, encouraging the creation of spin-offs.

IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) (investment: € 1.5 billion)

Additional capital is provided to the current IPCEI fund to finance (through incentives) new projects created by Italian companies in the six strategic European value chains. The projects must be of considerable relevance to Italy’s productive and technological development.

Partnerships – Horizon Europe (investment: €200 million)

Support of research, development and innovation projects and partnerships (European Partnerships) within the framework of the Horizon Europe Programme, identified through specific calls for proposals.

Partnerships can be promoted by both enterprises and research centres, and should focus on: 1) high-performance computing; 2) key digital technologies; 3) clean energy transition; 4) blue oceans – A climate-neutral, sustainable and productive blue economy; 5) innovative SMEs.

Thematic and territorial extension of technology transfer centres (investment: € 350 million)

Support and reorganisation of a network of 60 centres (Competence Centres, Digital Innovation Hubs, Digital Innovation Centres) in charge of i) project development; ii) provision of advanced technological services to enterprises, and; iii) innovative and qualifying technology transfer services.

Funding of existing centres will be based on performance evaluation and assessment of possible funding gaps. The prerequisite for financing the new centres is the combination with private funds, which is an essential condition for ensuring the centres’ sustainability.

Support to innovation processes and technology transfer

The reorganisation, rationalisation and strengthening of the structures offering advanced technological and qualifying innovative technology transfer services.


The Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan is available (in Italian) at the following link: