In recent years the Italian government has introduced a number of instruments aimed at encouraging the establishment and development of innovative startups in our country. There is now an expedited and centralized procedure for those applying for a visa for this purpose.
1. What is an innovative startup?
The innovative startup was introduced by DL 179/2012 to promote the creation and development of highly technological companies. Any corporation, including one formed as a cooperative can qualify as an innovative startup, if it meets the following objective requirements:
- It is a new enterprise or one that was established than 5 years ago;
- has its residence in Italy, or if in another country of the European Economic Area, with its production headquarters or branch office in Italy;
- has an annual turnover of no more than 5 million euros
- is not listed on a regulated stock market or multilateral trading platform;
- does not distribute profits, nor has it done so in the past;
- has as its exclusive or main purpose the development, production and marketing of a product or service of high technological value;
- did not result from a merger, split or sale of a branch of the business.
Finally, a startup is innovative if it meets at least 1 of the following 3 subjective requirements:
1. it incurs R&D expenditures that are at least 15% of the higher amount, between cost and total value of production;
2. employs highly qualified personnel (at least 1/3 PhDs, ABDs or researchers, or at least 2/3 with master’s degrees); or
3. is owner, depository or licensee of at least one patent, or is the owner of registered software.
The government has also provided several instruments to facilitate the financing of startups, including the deduction or detraction of investments in the startup’s share capital and free and simplified access to the SME Guarantee Fund.
2. The procedure for the startup visa
Italia Startup Visa (ISV) is a one-year, renewable, self-employment visa for non-EU citizens who intend to establish an innovative startup on Italian territory.
Unlike the ordinary procedure for obtaining a self-employment visa, the Startup Visa application is simplified, accelerated and totally digitized, with a quick timeframe for granting the nulla osta ( “entry authorization”).
The applicant must submit the application form, which, in addition to showing the biographical data and resume, provides detailed information about the innovative startup project the applicant intends to establish.
The applicant must also produce a certification of availability of financial resources of not less than €50,000, accompanied by a formal commitment to use this sum for the establishment and operation of the innovative startup.
Although it is not an essential requirement of the application, it is fundamental that the project be accompanied by a business plan that includes detailed estimates of the expected costs and revenues of the business project, with particular attention to the nature of research and development activities. In fact, according to the latest report published by the Ministry of Economic Development, lack of soundness and credibility of the business model is the main reason for rejection of ISV applications.
Please note that the ISV visa application, as a subtype of the self-employment visa, is subject to the annual quotas provided for in the flow decree; however, the fast-track procedure calls for the assessment of the application within 30 days of its submission, constituting a de facto fast track compared to ordinary applications.
3. The procedure through certified incubator
If the applicant can be hosted at the facilities of a certified incubator who will then assist with the establishment of a new innovative startup in this country, the application form to be sent in has some significant differences.
In fact, in place of the standard application form, the applicant must submit an attestation signed by the legal representative of the incubator certifying their willingness to assist the applicant in the establishment of its new innovative startup in Italy.
Through this procedure, it is easily possible to overcome the main grounds for rejection of the application, since, as the ISV guidelines expressly state, “In this circumstance, the Committee’s Nulla Osta takes on a value more properly of validation of the financial documentation regarding the financial commitment, and validation of the conformity of the business model of the company to be established with respect to the legal definition of innovative startup. The assessment of the actual soundness of the business model is in fact delegated to the certified incubator.”
4. Startup visa italy: What we can do for you
Our firm offers all the assistance needed to establish an innovative startup. The assistance covers both the first stage of creating the company and the possible second stage of fundraising and development of the business concept.
We also assist foreigners in the procedures needed to obtain the Investor’s Visa and the Startup Visa.
We can, in addition, submit Startup Visa applications in collaboration with our partner, a certified incubator and business accelerator, in this way increasing the likelihood of a successful application.