Italy promotes foreign investments and has a welcoming law for innovative startups. Foreign investors, especially non-EU ones, are welcomed in the country through two important programs: the Italian Start Up Visa and the Startup Hub (for non-EU investors who are already in the country).
Opening a startup in Italy has many advantages and the Startup Act is a law that sets forth favorable conditions for those who are interested in opening and developing innovative businesses. Under the conditions prescribed by Law 221/2012 these startups bring a significant contribution to the country’s economic growth and also boost employment, especially among the youth. The regulatory framework is designed to meet the needs of all of the parties involved in the startup ecosystem in the country.
Our team of agents specializing in company formation in Italy highlights some of the main principles of the Startup Law in this article. We invite investors to reach out to our agents if they have any questions on the startup in Italy schemes applicable to non-EU innovators.
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An innovative startup in Italy
Investors who are interested in opening a startup need to know that the law clearly defines innovation. The rules for qualification are important for those who open a company in Italy with the desire to qualify for the program. Below, we list the requirements that should be taken into consideration when launching a startup in Italy:
- – Company longevity: the company needs to be a new one or it needs to have been operational for no more than 5 years; the company cannot be the result of a merger or split-up;
- – Headquarters: these have to be located in Italy or in another EU country; it must have at least a production site branch in Italy;
- – Turnover and profits: the company needs to have an annual turnover of no more than 5 million Euros and it cannot distribute profits;
- – Activity: it must be involved in the production, development and commercialization of innovative goods and/or services that have important technological value.
Our team can help you register a company in Italy that complies with these requirements. The company’s innovative character is also assessed in order for the business to be part of the startup programme. It must comply with at least one of the following:
- at least 15% of the expenses incurred by the business need to be attributed to research and development activities;
- at least 1/3 of the company’s employees need to be PhD students or researchers; an alternative is to have at least 2/3 of the workforce with a Master’s degree;
- the company is a holder or licensee of a registered patent or the owner of a program for original, registered computers.
Already established companies can also take advantage of the same benefits for a startup in Italy, under certain conditions. Our agents can provide more details.
Setting up a company in Italy is quite simple. However, you will also need a team of accountants in Italy to be able to respect and apply the legislation in force. You will need payroll services, support for the preparation of annual financial statements, bookkeeping, audits, and administration of human resources. The double taxation issue is another aspect for which you can receive complete support from our certified accountants.
The Italian Startup Visa
Non-EU entrepreneurs can obtain a visa for a startup in Italy. This can be applied for directly or through a certified incubator in the country. The direct application can take place online or at the Embassy or Consulate in the foreign entrepreneur’s country of origin. Investors can also apply for the self-employed residence permit (valid for 1 year) no more than 8 days after their arrival in the country or apply for the two-year self-employment residence permit after the initial year (no later than 60 days before the expiry date of the current permit).
Our team can help you open a company in Italy and apply for the Italian Startup Visa accordingly. We can provide detailed information about the documents that need to be prepared and the waiting time.
According to the Ministry of Economic Development, the number of startups almost doubled in 2017 compared to 2015. The following data shows the statistics for these years and also for 2021:
- • There were 7,398 innovative startups at the end of June 2017; this is an addition of 1,800 more companies of this type compared to the same period in 2016.
- • 1,414 Italian municipalities had at least one innovative startup in 2017.
- • The Milan area alone recorded an impressive number in 2017: 1,028 innovative startups.
- • In general, a startup in Italy also has a high survival rate: only 6% of those set up in 2014 ceased their activities within the three years, until the date of the study.
- • 21.5% of the startups in 2017 had young shareholders, below 35 years of age.
- • Data for 2021 and more precisely the first quarter show that over 9,400 startups were already registered in Italy.
- • Most startups registered in this period operate in the field of business services.
- • There are already over 447,000 foreign entrepreneurs in Italy and mainly in Lombardy. Most startups are registered here.
- Lombardy is the region that is home to most of the innovative startups in Italy.
15 startup ideas in Italy
Italy is the optimal destination for those who want to develop their business ideas, in a stable and appealing climate. We present below 15 startup ideas in Italy from which to be inspired if you have decided to establish your business in this country.
1. Tourism agency
Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world, and a travel agency can be a good startup in Italy. It is important to decide on the services offered, inbound or outbound travel packages.
2. Insurance company
This type of business has a huge potential, especially if it targets several categories of consumers. The formalities are quite relaxed.
3. Car Rental Company
Services related to tourism in Italy may also involve car rental companies. You can turn your attention to both local and foreign customers.
4. Home delivery
The concept of home delivery has gained rapid development in recent years. It would be advisable to put on the list the establishment of such activities, with the help of a startup in Italy and relying on technology to facilitate ecological services.
5. Ecological laundry
If you are aware of what is happening to the environment and if you want a business that can become successful in a relatively short time, then ecological laundry can be an optimal solution. The application with which to offer various facilities will play an important role here.
6. Website graphics services
The creation of websites is in full expansion, and the specialists in this field are not in line with the demands on the market. If you are passionate about site graphics and you want to make money from it, you can open a startup in Italy.
7. Online shop
Do you want to sell products and services online? Then it’s time to open an online shop. The formalities are quite simple, but you have to consider the help of specialists in the field.
8. Consultancy company
Consulting firms can be active in many fields. You can turn your attention to those who want financial support, for example.
9. Jewelry shop
Opening a jewelry store in the touristic areas of Italy can be a successful business. It is important to decide if you want to import such products or if you want to open a workshop.
10. Advertising and marketing
Promotion and marketing services are necessary for any company owner who wants to assert himself on the market. If you rely on the experience you have in this field and you want to share it, then begin with a startup in Italy.
11. Art galleries
Are you passionate about art and want to make money from it? You can think of opening an art gallery for selling items. Here you will have to create good contacts in order to be able to purchase various works or even use your personal ones.
12. Investment company
Those with experience in the field of investments can open a company of this kind. In addition to specialized advice, in this case, you can help local and foreign clients to open investment funds.
13. Health care company
Companies operating in the health care field record consistent revenues in Italy. If you want to import medical products or offer services in this field, then a startup in Italy would be the optimal solution.
14. A local restaurant
Italy is known all over the world for its world-famous gastronomy and cuisine. You can adopt the model of an Italian restaurant and benefit from a specialist in the field in order to be safe.
15. Car service company
Although the car service company may seem like a classic business, this can be improved with the help of technology. The facilities are multiple, and customers can be attracted with fast, personalized services and at advantageous costs.
Support for foreign investors in Italy
Startups in Italy can be easily set up, with specialized help from our local agents. As the formalities can be difficult, especially for foreigners, it is good to ask for advice and assistance in order to meet any problems. You can rely on professionalism, efficiency, and a good collaboration if you turn your attention to our company formation agents in Italy.
Contact us for more information on how to register a startup in Italy, the advantages and main issues for EU and non-EU investors.