Call for proposals High Tech Business-Molise Region ROP ERDF/ESF 2014-20 - Action 1.3.1. Financing innovative start-ups that contribute to RIS3 implementation.
The call aimed at increasing the level of innovation in the regional economic system and at facing youth unemployment. More precisely grants have been awarded to innovative startups (established by no longer than 36 months), or to people willing to establish a new innovative startup, in order to support the implementation of business plans in one of the RIS3 areas (agrifood, cultural and creative industries, tourism, life science, ICT). The business plan had to include “experimental development” and “results’ industrialisation” activities. Moreover, it had to respect at least one of the following requirements: a. significant technological contents and in terms of innovation; b. development of products, services or solutions related to the digital economy; c. economic exploitation of results stemming from the research system, both public and private.
The plan had to cost at least € 20.000,00. The grant could cover up to 50% of eligible costs, 60% in case of application of priority criterias: companies composed entirely by people under 40 or by women or with the presence of people with Ph.D and recent experience abroad). The maximum grant that could be assigned was € 100.000,00, € 120.000,00 in case of application of the above mentioned priority criterias. The main criteria in the assessment process was: “Competitive advantage in technical, scientific and market terms” – 48 points/102.
The call had an overall budget of € 3 mln., later integrated with a further million of euros because of the several applications received. To implement the action, in particular the assessment phase, Molise Region activated an “in house” organism and a web based application procedure.
Evidence of success
The call has had a great success: 107 applications; 50 new innovative start ups financed, half of them in innovative services (also linking ICT, arts and culture); 50 beneficiaries plus a planned "employment impact" of further 47 units. These numbers are very relevant considering the small demographic and economic dimension of Molise (300.000 inhabitants, about 21.000 firms) and its moderate level of innovation (penultimate amongst Italian Regions as regards the number of innovative start ups).
Potential for learning or transfer
The call “HTB” has been a very positive experience for Molise Region and it is improving its level of innovation. Among its “key success factors” first of all the focus on RIS priority areas in order to stimulate business ideas in sectors where Molise can count on competitive advantages and a concrete growth potential. Very important also the involvement of a specialised subject able to deeply assess, also through personal interviews to the applicants, the level of innovation of the projects submitted as well as their concrete feasibility. Finally, for the business ideas that go the design phase an assistance package has been provided through an incubator. The experience will be certainly replicated with the “post 2020” ERDF/ESF OP to further boost innovative start ups in the Region and catch up the Italian average. We consider that this experience has an high level of transferability towards small territories with a level of development and innovation similar to Molise.
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