Innovative Companies: what they are, requirements, benefits

Innovative Companies: what they are, requirements, benefits

30 December 2020




We often talk about them and they are the protagonists of many of the equity crowdfunding campaigns on Mamacrowd: but what does it mean to be aninnovative company?

What is an innovative startup?

The etymology of the word "start up" is as follows (start-up, with a hyphen) is by now quite well known: it means to start an entrepreneurial activity (start) and accelerate the development or realization of the distinctive product or service on which it is based (up).

An innovative startup, on the other hand, as defined in the Growth Decree, is a company registered in a special section of the companies register, which can only be accessed by respecting precise characteristics. Startups registered in this register enjoy special benefits, which are described below.


Article 25 of the Growth Decree 2.0, converted into Law no. 211/2012, defines innovative startups as companies that meet the following requirements:

"Companies with share capital under Italian law, constituted also in the form of a cooperative, or European companies with tax residence in Italy, whose main purpose is the production, development and marketing of innovative services or products with a high level of technology". Innovative startups are both SRLs and SpAs, SAPAs and cooperatives".


In order to register in the special register of companies and take advantage of the benefits reserved for innovative companies, a company must meet a series of requirements, contained in art. 25.

There are formal and substantial requirements, also known as cumulative or alternative requirements. The former are defined as cumulative because they must all be met, the latter as alternative because at least one of the three requirements indicated in the regulations must be met.

For the formal requirements, called cumulative, the innovative company

- is a new company or has been established for no more than 5 years

- is resident in Italy or within the European Union, but has its production site or branch in Italy

- has an annual turnover of less than 5 million Euros

- is not listed on a regulated market

- does not and has not distributed profits

- has as its exclusive or main corporate purpose the development, production and marketing of a product or service with a high technological value

- is not the result of a merger, demerger or sale of a business unit.

Moving on to the substantive or alternative requirements, it must comply with at least 1 of the following 3 points:

1. It must incur expenses in R&D and innovation equal to at least 15% of the greater value between turnover and cost of production;

2. The total workforce must be made up of at least 1/3 of PhD students, PhDs or researchers, or at least 2/3 of partners or collaborators in any capacity with a master's degree;

3. It must be owner, depositary or licensee of at least one patent or owner of a registered software.


Why should a company become innovative if it meets the requirements? The facilities reserved, without limits related to the age of the entrepreneur or sector of activity, are:

- Constitution with digital signature, online through a free process, without notary fees

- Tax incentives for those who invest in the capital of the company

- Free and simplified access to the Guarantee Fund, in the case of SMEs

- Facilitated financing for innovative startups in Italy, with Smart & start Italia

- Exemption from payment of Chamber of Commerce fees and stamp duty for registration in the special section of the Register of Enterprises

- ICE support for internationalization paths

- Regulations for flexible work

- Extension of the deadline for covering losses

- Derogation from the rules governing shell companies and companies with systematic losses

- Remuneration through equity instruments

- Exemption from the obligation to apply the stamp of conformity to offset VAT credits.

...And the advantages for the investor?

Investing on an innovative company with a proper management of the investment portfolio, diversifying the sectors and making several investments on different companies, could make you find yourself among the investors of the new Facebook: startups are companies that often grow exponentially.

Moreover, compared to "traditional" companies, there are significant tax benefits . The classic legislation, which usually provides for the possibility to deduct 30% during the tax return for the year following the investment, in 2020, following the Relaunch Decree, has been changed. Today, for investments made in 2020, it is possible to deduct up to 50% for individuals and 30% for legal persons.

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