The main goal is to support innovative start-ups to develop new products and services; also, to involve business angels in financing and supporting them.
It is a business plan competition in which a jury of experts evaluates the business plans submitted. The best classified applicants are invited to participate in a business pitch and the most promising of them receive the funding.
A condition is that the applicants have to be supported by business angels/venture capitalists, who have to provide at least 1/3 of the capital. The investors may also provide 100% of the capital, but they cannot hold the majority of the shares; hence the control of the start-up remains by the founders.
The Province doubles the whole capital of the enterprise in the range between 50.000 and 200.000 Euros. The Province does not gain equity and it is a non-refundable funding.
In the business plan milestones must be mentioned and the funding is provided upon evidence of the achievement of the milestones and the occurred capitalisation by the shareholders. There is no need to present a report of expenditures (no need to present timesheets, bills, invoices, etc.) by the enterprise.
The design of the call for proposals aims at increasing the number of innovative start-ups and provide them with risk capital. Moreover, it promotes the awareness of the importance of the presence of business angels in the start-up community. Last but not least, the call enables the winners to grow faster and to hire high qualified personnel.
Regular calls for proposals (3 in the last 4 years) with a growing budget between 600.000 Euros in the 1st call and 1,2 million Euros in the last call.
Human resources needed: 1 person.
Funding sources: local funds of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, funds for innovation and research. No ERDF.
Evidence of success
The number of participants increased at every call so as the number of financed start-ups.
Pay attention to
- presence of a real investor (in some cases in the 1st call it seemed that the so-called business angel was one of the founders)
- quality of milestones (is one evaluation criterion). Being the funding related to their achievement, it is important to have significant milestones.
Potential for learning or transfer
The call for proposals might be interesting for other regions because it is a new and innovative supporting instrument for start-ups. It does not require a high bureaucratic effort in terms of reporting for both the start-ups and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano. The fact that the applicants have already found a business angel ensures a high level of quality of the business plans and therefore of the participating start-ups (a sort of pre-selection by the market has already taken place).
Whereas the first call provided for the funding in de minimis, in the next two calls it was possible to fund the winners in exemption because in the meantime the COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 651/2014 providing for this possibility at article 22 “Aid for start-ups” was issued.