By Domenico Arcuri, CEO Invitalia
Invitalia is the National Agency for inward investment and economic development, which acts on behalf of the Government to increase the competitivity of Italy, with a particular focus on Southern Italy.
The key objectives of Invitalia are as follows: to provide assistance in the start-up and growth of companies, to support strategic industrial sectors and to boost the potential of the Italian territories and attract big investments.
Among the host of activities that Invitalia is involved in on a daily basis are those that relate to support given to the business community: Invitalia’s policies are aimed at supporting companies and investments, and at rewarding young talent and creativity.
Invitalia manages all national business incentives, from those targeted at young entrepreneurs to those aimed at multinationals.
Its portfolio of support initiatives includes, specifically, the Development Contract which encourages big investments in sectors that are vital to the national economy; Smart&Start Italia to create or consolidate innovative start-ups throughout Italy; Resto al Sud (I’m staying in the South) for people under the age of 36 who want to do business in Southern Italy and Interest-free New Business Loans for young people and women who wish to become entrepreneurs.
Over the last few years, Invitalia has helped create more than 2,000 new businesses, with nearly 900 innovative start-ups, it has financed 130 development contracts and has activated more than €8Bn of investment in the territory, which has given a significant boost to GDP growth.
The Agency manages two venture capital and private equity funds through Fund Management company Invitalia Ventures SGR.
- Italia Venture I, with a budget of €86.65Mn and 17 investments already in place, was created to strengthen and consolidate the venture industry and start-ups and innovative SMEs in Italy, in joint investment initiatives with national and international private operators,
- Italia Venture II – Fondo Imprese Sud (Southern Italy Business Fund) is a private equity fund for the purposes of joint investments, up to a maximum of 50%, in SMEs located in Southern Italy. In May 2018 it performed its first closing of €150Mn.
In addition, Italia Venture III is in the process of being set up, with a budget of €200Mn. The purpose of this fund is to counteract the relocation of international industrial activities. In this case also, the investment quota of up to 50% can be underwritten by other investors.
The Invitalia Group also includes MedioCredito Centrale, which manages state-aid instruments such as the Guarantee Fund (to facilitate access to credit for SMEs and freelance workers) and which offers consultancy services to Italian companies in matters of investment and financial structuring.
Invitalia is also active on the digital infrastructure front: indeed, through its subsidiary Infratel Italia, it is implementing the Government Plans for Broadband and Ultra-Broadband, with the aim of reducing the digital divide between the various areas of Italy and of bringing high-speed Internet to the so-called areas of market failure. The objective is to extend high-speed connectivity on a wide scale for the benefit of companies, citizens and institutions.
A further area of activity is the technical assistance provided to Public Authorities: Invitalia works alongside central and local government entities to improve their performance in the spending of European and national funds, to the capitalization of cultural assets and to encourage the digitization of administrative procedures. But that is not all. Invitalia is the Central Purchasing Body and Contracting Authority for other public entities and has the objective of speeding up the awarding of public contracts. Activities covered include the renovation of public buildings and support to the manufacturing sector of areas affected by the earthquake in Central Italy, as well as the relaunch of the archaeological site at Pompei through maintenance and restoration interventions, which has led to an increase in visitor numbers from 2 to 4 million in just 4 years.
Finally, for direct interventions inside the territory, Invitalia is very involved in the revitalization of manufacturing and employment in a number of crisis-hit industrial areas where it intervenes, above all, in matters regarding financing in accordance with the Law 181/89. Of particular importance is the requalification and revitalization of the ex-Italsider steel plant at Bagnoli (Naples), which represents one of the biggest operations of environmental recovery and economic optimization on an international scale. Under this project, Invitalia, in its capacity as Implementing Body, put in place the main instruments for development: from the creation of investments on the territory, to support to business activities, and including the involvement of the local community and stakeholders.
To conclude, the role of Invitalia evolves every day to be more like that of an agency that acts on the two main fronts of incentives to business and public investments, simultaneously stimulating and qualifying the development requests that come from the local territories and improving their ability to represent their requirements and the appropriate growth strategies.