Incentives and facilities for foreign investors to open innovative startups in Italy

The Italian Government has recently implemented a new legislation package to favor the setting up and development of innovative startups by foreign investors. This includes the introduction of significant benefits in areas such as immigration, tax, labor, company law, access to bank loans etc.

Particularly, the Italia Start-up VISA grants to non-EU entrepreneurs that intend to set-up a start-up company in Italy the possibility to obtain an Italian self-employment VISA for up to 5 individuals within only 30 days through a fast-track procedure.

The requirements to be registered as a “start-up innovative company” are the following:

  • set up an Italia limited liability company in the form of a S.r.l. (società a responsabilitàlimitata);
  • the Company’s core business shall consist in the development, production and commercialization of innovative goods or services of high technological value and the company shall be entered int the special section of the Registrar of Companies for “innovative start-up companies”; this requirement is currently interpreted broadly and virtually any company operating in the internet and digital industry can be entered in the innovative startups section;
  • the Company must have been established for no longer than 48 months;
  • the Company must reside or be subject to taxation in Italy;
  • the Company has no turnover or has a turnover that does not exceed 5 million euros;
  • the Company does not distribute profits for a certain time;
  • the Company shall not result from the merger, division or transfer of business from an existing company;
  • the Company meets at least one of the following additional criteria (a) devotes at least 15% of its expenditure to research and development (R&D) activity, (b) has at least one third of its team composed of PhD students or graduates, or of personnel who have been working in research for at least 3 years; alternatively, at least two thirds should hold a master’s degree, (c) is the owner, filer or licensee of a patent, industrial property right, or original software registered with the SocietàItalianadegliAutoriedEditori(Italian Society of Authors and Publishers – SIAE).

Italia startup VISA is issued on the basis of a certificate of no impediment issued by Italia Startup VISA Technical Committee, composed by representatives of the start-up industry. The issuance of the certificate is subject to an evaluation by the Committee that the startup meets the requirements provided by the legislation.

For evaluation purposes, applicants:

  • are required to complete an application form drawn up by the Committee and should provide their educational and employment history as well as detailed information regarding their business idea and model, the type of product or service they plan to develop and their market (i.e. a business plan);
  • shall provide documentary evidence demonstrating that they possess certified financial resources of at least 50,000 Euros to develop their innovative startup including funding from venture capital funds, incubators or other investors, the investor’s own finances, funding obtained through crowd-funding or other funding issued by Italian or foreign government or non-government bodies; you will not be actually required to proof that you have invested Euros 50K but only that you have available funds.

Applicants shall also provide evidence that they have suitable accommodation including an offer of accommodation from a third party. In your case, this can be easily managed.

Finally, applicants shall provide evidence of income earned during the previous financial year in their country of residence (i.e. income tax return). Said income shall be no less than the 8,400 Euros.

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