The future of start-ups: what shall we expect by this “People’s Government”

NewsFromThePlatform | June 6th, 2018

It has been called “government of the People” and also “Government of change” even before it was born. From June 4th, after 90 days of convulsive negotiations and several twists, Giuseppe Conte, lawyer and private law professor, is officially the new Italian premier. The contract between 5SM and Northern League materialized into a mixed list of ministers made of politicians and  technicians. Minister of Treasury will be Giovanni Tria, Dean of the Faculty of Economics of Tor Vergata University, while Development will be in the hands of populist 5SM leader Luigi Di Maio. There seems to be no Ministry for Innovation, though it was loudly asked for just a few days ago by president of Confindustria Digitale Elio Catania and by Stefano Quintarelli, Italian entrepreneur and Internet pioneer. In any case, stock markets seem to have reacted positively to end of uncertainty and Italy’s spread level got lower – although you can never be sure of how the links between stock listings and politics really work.

Based on the two parties’ programs, we’ll try here to imagine how some crucial issues will unravel in the near future, focusing in particular on the positions expressed by Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini on the subject of venture capital.

5SM should aim, at least according to the 20 points of the program, at the creation of a “smart nation” through investments “with a high employment multiplier” in order to “create new job opportunities and new professions”, investing “in new technology, new professional figures, internet of things, electric cars, PA digitization.”

In their program, 5SM look at the theme of innovation in a broader sense, addressing the broadband issue and suggesting the transformation of OpEn Fiber (the company that won the tender for the construction of ultra-broadband networks) into a public majority company. And it seems that the Movement is the only party that talks about artificial intelligence, as a tool driving towards the fourth industrial revolution together with IoT, which will be developed by investing in the 5G network.

Moving to venture capital, the young leader of the Movement spoke his mind just before the elections, at Talent Garden in Milan. Here’s the whole speech. He said: “If we miss the innovation train we will lose the opportunity to employ the young people we have abroad, but also the young people who are about to graduate or who are entering university. What should be done? First of all, we should leave in peace those who do business in this industry, so less laws, less bureaucracy. […] The second thing is investing: with Venture Capital but also as a State, with a public investment bank that gives a hand to the innovative realities in this sector; and then the third thing is to imagine a state that digitizes public administration but at the same time allows our country to create, for example, a new concept of mobility, one million electric cars by 2020, a new concept of digitized public administration, a new concept of education and university, more connected with the productive worlds. […] Young people are definitely the future, but they are above all the present: in this world of innovation you can find the Olivetti of the future.” Ambitious words.

What does the Matteo Salvini’s Lega Nord program offer in terms of innovation and start-ups? The party is in favour of investments in young, innovative and tech companies, but rather than counting on banking finance, it aims to “make more private capital flow towards young entrepreneurs through legal obligations that require Individual Savings Plans (PIR) and Italian pension funds to make a minimum investment (in a spectrum between 3% and 5%) in this sector.” Besides, Salvini intends to “provide for at least 50% reductions in the cost of labour hired by innovative start-ups over a five-year horizon.”

In short, the focus on what could be a fundamental driver of the country’s development seems to be high. Now we hope that electoral promises will translate into effective actions.