Entrepreneurship & Venture Finance in Italy The Mind the Bridge challenge

Alberto Onetti, PhD. Chair, Mind the Bridge Foundation (CA) Director, CrESIT, Insubria University (IT)

European Entrepreneurship and Innovation Thought Leaders (EEITL) Stanford, January 25th, 2010

State of entrepreneurship in Italy

Lack of large companies

In Italy SMEs are 98% of the total

Mostly mature business Strong family business vocation
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“One man only at the helm.” “Companies are life-long enterprises.” “First get some revenue, and then invest.” “Think real.”

State of venture finance in Italy

Lack of an established venture capital community
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Of the €4.5B invested yearly (avg. 2006-2008), approximately €70M went to early-stage investments (AIFI & Pricewaterhouse-Coopers 2008) Only 186 start-ups were able to get funded in the last three years, with an average deal size of €0.5M to €1M (AIFI & Pricewaterhouse-Coopers 2008) The stock market capitalization to GDP ratio is lower than 60%, versus 140% in the United States and 170% in the United Kingdom (IMF & World Federation of Exchange) The aforementioned lack of large companies makes the exit from investment difficult

Small size of the stock market does not help

State of Italian R&D

Quality basic research
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Cumulative R&D investments are €17B (4% of GDP), whose 30% from universities and 20% from public and non-profit (ICE, Cotec, Istat) 400k scientific publication in the period 1998-2008 ranking 8th in the global classification (7th for number of citations) (Thomson Reuters, 2008) Biotech: 750 clinical trials in progress during 2007 (BlossomAssobiotec 2009) Lack of efficient technology transfer offices Universities do not offer incentives for lecturers to spin-off business initiatives Scarcity of skilled executives with strong entrepreneurial skills Italian scientists do not think business

Issues in turning research into business
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Mind the Bridge foundation
Mission: to promote a new Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem that is: ethical, highly professional, internationally focused, excellence driven


bridging opportunities of the Silicon Valley with Italian talent associating mentors and role models professionalizing the business planning skills using and building the network “give back” to build a bigger pie


Mind the Bridge foundation
Model: funded by foundations/companies/private sector/donors not government partnering with the most relevant actors Independent


Nurturing the deal flow (MtB Roadshows) Selecting the best of breed (Annual MtB Business Plan Competition & MtB Venture Camp) Providing training & education to the new generation of entrepreneurs (MtB Start-up School) Hosting&mentoring the most promising startups in the Silicon Valley (MtB Gym) Pitching Silicon Valley investors / partners (MtB Gran Finale event)

2009 selected Start-ups
Revolutionary antenna system (Milano) Wi-Fi-derived solutions (Milano and Boston) Comprehensive non-invasive solution for both vertebral fractures and bone strenght assessment (Lecce) Solution to update any digital information (Sassari) Social-network which allow users to create music through the web (Treviso)

Social marketplace for travel, where experts can provide users with information and personalized offers (Milano) Virtual and Augmented Reality technology (Pisa)

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