Several tax incentives grants for new Italy-based start-ups will be available in Italy by February, 2014. More precisely there will be: 19% reduction on gross income tax for physical persons, up to € 0.5 million, and 20% deduction on income for businesses, up to € 1.8 million. This is the final step of the law 221/2012, approved in December 2012, to promote the development of innovative start-ups and to make things easier for management. Overall, this will make it more attractive to invest in Italian start-ups.

We have interviewed Alessandro Fusacchia, the current Foreign Minister’s Advisor.
Mr. Fusacchia has previously coordinated, as Minister’s Advisor for European Affairs, Youth and Innovation, the task force on start-ups established by the Ministry of Economic Development. The report Restart, Italia! is now the core of this law.

Why is it attractive to invest in Italian start-ups?
The approval of the last implementing decree to facilitate start-up investments has completed the job started in April 2012 by Mr. Passera, at the time Minister of Economic Development. The decree was approved by the Parliament within the same year and the following year was needed to define the implementing decrees. Moreover it was necessary to invest some time in verifying the consistency of the decree with European laws for state-aids and for competition.
With the Restart Italia! report, we have created a new approach to speed up a 360° policy necessary to implement a start-up friendly ecosystem. A task force made up of 12 members, including entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, academics, journalists and civil servants has completed this report, that has been then reviewed by public consultation on the web. All these efforts were useful to define ideas and proposals and to create awareness: we need to understand that innovation is not a minor issue, but that it is a major opportunity for the future, as also recognised by many economic opinion leaders in the country.
[Please remember that this law for innovative start-ups provides various tax incentives grants, no set-up and registration fees, employment flexibility, tax credit for highly qualified personnel employment, subsidised credit and fail fast procedures; see Executive summary of the new Italian legislation on start-ups]

Is your job concluded, once the last decree is implemented?
It is important to clarify that, to attract foreign investors, we need to make their investments convenient and easy to manage. Basic requirements are: the certainty of the law, simple labour laws and clear tax systems. Italy needs to leverage more on its unique strenghts to become the next “start-up nation”. Thus we cannot only focus on our artistic and cultural assets, but we must make the most of our made in Italy production system, agro-food and fashion as well as robotics, mechanics and the transformation industry.
Destinazione Italia was developed for this purpose. This new report is tailored to attract direct foreign investments in Italy and includes 50 specific and feasible actions. This plan has been presented to a pool of international investors and reviewed by a qualified public consultation. Thirty thousand comments were received in slightly more than two months and ten top actions were chosen among the fifty ones of the report. Seven out of these ten recommendations have then been recognised by the Destinazione Italia Law Decree, which will become law by February 2014.
Obviously not all the measures require specific laws. The Italian tax agency has created a specific department to deal with international investors and to define tax agreements. SME and therefore also start-ups may issue bonds to obtain fresh capital from the market (practically mini-bonds with simplified and tax-free emission). Finally start-ups visa is on its final stage, i.e. a fast track-visa for highly qualified people who would like to come to Italy to invest or to work in a start-up or in a R&D centre.

Elisabetta Bevilacqua