The Italian Startup Ecosystem is Growing Fast

According to the latest reports of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, in Italy, 5 innovative startups are launched every single day. This encouraging development is now confirmed by the report  “The Italian Startup Ecosystem”, written by Italia Startup and supported by the Ministry of Economic Development and the School of Management Politecnico in Milano.

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This promising initiative aims to create an economic system identifying the most important stakeholders and new business opportunities.  One of the most notable developments is the increased number of investments in high-tech technology/innovation startups (an increase of 74%: from 113 in 2013 to 197 in 2014). Also striking is the exponential growth of the startup ecosystem as a whole. In 2013 1227 startups were registrered, this year thanks to a staggering growth of 120% Italy now has 2716 registered startups.

However, Italy hasn't yet catch up with other European Union countries. ⅛ of the investments in German and French startups goes to high-tech companies and in the UK it’s about 20% of the total investments in startups. As is confirmed by Andrea Rangone (Digital Innovation of the School of Management of Politecnico Milano), the growth of investments in startups is driven by business angels and venture incubators. Nowadays, more than 50% of the total investments does no longer come from public funds.

The map of the italian ecosystem shows that the majority of innovative startups can be found in the northern regions (57%). The rest of the startups are almost evenly distributed throughout the Center (22%) and the South of Italy (21%). The majority of business incubators and accelerators (100 in 2014, 3 more than in 2013) can be found in the Northern Italian regions. At the top of the charts is Lombardy with 21 (18 in 2013), followed by Emilia-Romagna (12 in 2014, 11 in 2013), Tuscany (11 in 2014, 12 in 2013), Piedmont (8 in 2013 and 2014), Latium (7 in 2014, 8 in 2013) and Veneto (6 in 2013 and 2014).

There are new entries in the map of players/stakeholders, such as platforms for crowdfunding (65), hackatons (21) and fablabs (46). Again, most of these are located in Northern Italy. The complete absence of hackatons in the South is an indication of why these types of initiatives are still unknown in large parts of our country.

Federico Barilli, Secretary-General of Italia Startup, in a recent interview described our ecosystem: “it is still very much fragmented to the extent that you can hardly call it an ecosystem. It is a complex chain that consists of individuals, startups, incubators, business accelerators, established companies and investors". 

In conclusion, the report shows that the collaboration of various stakeholders in the startup scene starts to create a virtuous circle. However, despite an exponential growth in the number of startups, the level of investments doesn’t show a linear growth. To close the gap with our European colleagues, it will be crucial to leverage the strength of the network and to create a meeting point between startups and enterprises. 2015 is just starting, now it's the time to grow quickly.