There are several misconceptions about Italy as a business destination, many of which have international investors on the fence about whether or not to commit to developing enterprises in the Country. While the overall ecosystem, particularly where startups are concerned, does present some difficulties, however, there are several elements that lead us to believe that Italy is still an excellent market to invest in. The main assets in this market? The hundreds of innovative and borderline revolutionary startups that still manage to attract capital and to disrupt their respective fields with the simple brilliance of their solutions. And while some have had to move abroad, others have stayed in the Country and are ready to lay the foundation for a prosperous startup ecosystem.
Addressing the drawbacks for international investors
2016 was a fantastic year for Italian startups, with record investments for a grand total of almost €90M. After that, there has been a general decrease in the amount of capital invested in Italian startups, which was largely due to a government program reaching its scheduled end date and not being renewed, as well as a general distrust of venture capitalists and angel investors. Many Italian startuppers have chosen to move abroad to scale up or to apply to foreign incubators or accelerators. These phenomena have inevitably amplified each other, resulting in a dimming of the hype that had been created around the Italian startup scene in 2016.
What’s left for investors to look forward to? Only a wealth of incredible talent and projects with high potential, with startups that have proven over the years that they can not only resist in this difficult environment but thrive on the sheer brilliance of their core business idea and resilience of their team. Despite the end of government support programs, several Italian startups managed to close interesting rounds and raise millions in private investments. One such example is Satispay, one of the most interesting new brands in international fintech. Satispay focuses on smartphone-based payment systems, in the wake of Apple Pay, and it raised over €18M in 2017. Medical tech startups are also booming, with big pharma companies investing in innovative startups and often starting their own bootcamps. The largest investments in this field, in 2018, have been the €20M raised by Medical Microinstruments and the €26M raised by EryDel, specialising respectively in robotic tools for surgery and in innovative treatments based on the use of red blood cells.
Why you should still invest in Italy
International investors and aspiring entrepreneurs that want to have access to the European market are the best candidates to invest or launch startups in Italy. While in most other Countries of the union are rather hard to access, for non-European citizens, Italy has been implementing a fast-track to startup visas for those who are launching innovative projects and are willing to commit to investing in the Country. In the long-run, this policy is expected to result in an increase in innovative startups being set up in Italy, from all over the world, and boosting the local startup scene, by attracting further investors and creating a vibrant ecosystem, that will encourage innovation, the exchange of skills, expertise and know-how.