Startups with an Italian Accent

The Vatican, the Coliseum, and the leaning tower of Pisa have for many years been amongst Italy’s main attractions.  Now Italy is about to add one more to its list: Startups. After a few years of slow growth, the Italian startup ecosystem today is blossoming. According to a report by Milan Polytechnic University, in 2016 high-tech startups in Italy received investments for €217mln, out of which €35m were from foreign entities. To date, more than 6,700 innovative startups are registered in the Register of Companies of the Chambers of Commerce. They are active in the most relevant fields of innovation, such as Internet of Things, augmented reality, agritech, fintech, and fashion.

Among many initiatives implemented both at a national and a regional level, in late 2012 Italy’s government passed the “Growth’s Decree 2.0”, a specific law for startups that aims at fostering innovation and supporting young talent. To be acknowledged as an “innovative startup”, companies need to meet strict criteria such as having their headquarters in Italy – or in another EU country with at least one branch in Italy- and have a yearly turnover of under $5million. Innovative startups qualify for further incentives among which are tax reduction and tailor-made labor law.

The North of Italy is home to over half of these startups with about 20% in Lombardy, the region which includes Milan. That’s primarily driven by the fact that lots of big corporations have offices in Milan, including SAP. The presence of big corporations, the excellence of the food industry and high fashion, the university prestige and the increased vitality that followed Expo 2015 make Milan the best place to launch a startup.

SAP is proud to be playing a role in nurturing the bustling Italian startup community. Italian startups have joined the SAP Startup Focus programand some have already successfully completed the program and built their businesses’ using SAP’s innovative technology like for example Espedia, a management consulting company. In 2013 Espedia joined the Startup Focus program and developed PDP4FASHION, a new solution built on HANA, SAP’S in memory database, which accelerates analytics and predictive capabilities and allows customers in the Retail and Fashion industries to run their businesses in real-time and manage time, costs, and product design along the entire value chain.

Another example is MobyPlanner, a company that develops real-time and predictive analytic solutions to support urban mobility for both consumer and enterprise market. MobyPlanner was founded in November 2013 and incubated at PoliHub, the Business Accelerator at Milan Polytechnic University.

Their success didn’t take long. In 2013 Mobyplanner won Call4Idea by PoliHub & SAP: they have been awarded for using new technology, big data, and predictive analytics to support companies and their traveling staff during planning activities of appointments and optimize itineraries. In 2013 Mobyplanner was one of the semifinalists at TehcChrunch Italy Startup competition and in 2016 they received the Business and Innovation Award by Esri Italia.

The Italian startup success story is just beginning and we at the StartupFocus program couldn’t be more excited to be part of it.