June 10, 2019 Statistics

Typical profile of the Italian start-upper

The first and most recent official survey on the typical profile of the Italian start-upper is dated 2018, when the Italian Government undertook a survey on 2.250 innovative start-ups – representing 44% of the total start-ups registered into the dedicated section of the Italian Business Register on 31 December 2015. Here you find a summary of the key findings.

To better understand the definition of “innovative start-up”:
 Read: Innovative start-ups and SMEs: definition for the Italian law

The Italian founder of an innovative start-up is on average a 43 years old man with a high education level: it is found that 82% of the surveyed start-uppers are men, 72.8% of them have earned at least a university degree, and approximately 16% of them have earned a PhD.

Despite the fact that the university seems important, only in 19% of the cases the academic research inspired the innovative idea.

Most of the founders (87.1%) have had professional experience prior to the launch of the start-up: 36.3% of them as employee (of which 11.6% in enterprises operating in a different sector from the one of the start-up), 27.4% as self-employed or freelance professional, and 23.3% as shareholder of other enterprises. More than 50% of them are convinced that they are carrying out an activity consistent with their previous professional experience, and only one founder out of 5 has a parent who is an entrepreneur.

Start-uppers aged under 25 represent only 1,6% of the surveyed entrepreneurs; the majority of them is between 35 and 44 years old (35,6%) and between 45 and 64 years old (33,5%); start-uppers over 65 represent 4,4% of the surveyed population. 

Italian start-uppers show strong territorial roots: over 83% of them have established their companies in the same region in which he or she has carried out the main training and/or working experiences.

About 55% of the Italian start-uppers has had at least one working or training experience abroad: in 13.5% of the cases he or she was working as an employee, for 21% of the founders it was for study purposes, and for 10.3% it was an entrepreneurial experience. 

In many cases the academic and/or professional experiences abroad had a positive impact on their foreign language skills. Approximately 96% of the founders know at least another language besides Italian: English is the most widely spoken language (91% of the cases), followed by French (21%) and Spanish (11%). The main motivation for launching a start-up is the creation of innovative products or services (77.6% of the responses). The second reason is the creation of a successful business with high profitability (62.9% of the responses).


You can find the detailed statistics produced by Ministero dello Sviluppo economico and Istat in the Report “Startup Survey 2016” at the following link: