The start-up

What it is 

The definition of an innovative start-up is that of a company or a cooperative, newly created or in existence for less than 60 months, whose aim is to encourage the development, manufacture and marketing of innovative products and services with a high technological content.

For this purpose the following benefits are provided: 

  • incentives for legal set-up 
  • facilitations for the management of the company 
  • a system of exceptions to the rules relating to reduction for any loss 
  • tax breaks for those who want to invest in an innovative start-up 
  • possibility of using contract employees. 

The innovative start-up is set up by a public deed of the notary, who registers the deed and records the company in the special section of the register of companies responsible for the local area (where the head office is located). The definition of innovative start-up can also be applied to a company that already exists but not for more than 60 months, provided the other requirements of the law are met.

Characteristics

Innovative start-ups may offer financial products to the public even in the s.r.l. (limited liability) form of company. 

In order to obtain the benefits, the company must:

  • carry out research and development to a value equal to or greater than 15% of  total turnover 
  • alternatively, have at least one-third of its employees and consultants who have a Ph.D. or are doing research for a Ph.D. 
  • alternatively, be the custodian, owner or licensee of a patent for an industrial or biotechnology invention.

Of course, given all these benefits, restrictions are imposed on the distribution of earnings. Total annual turnover is limited to Euro 5 million from the second year of operation.

The innovative start-up is registered with the Registrar of Companies and specifically in the special section reserved for innovative start-ups. Registration is a prerequisite for benefiting from the concessionary legislation. In order to be registered, the requirements must be satisfied to qualify the company as an innovative start-up: type of business activity, expenditure on research and development, details of educational qualifications and professional experience of the shareholders and members of staff who work in the company, relations and collaboration with universities and research centres or institutional and professional investors, ownership of industrial or intellectual property rights.

A company wishing to qualify as an innovative start-up may not have been created by a merger or de-merger and its assets may not be derived from the sale of a company or business unit.