Increasing the scale of Italian venture capital funds and encouraging the encounter between venture capitalists and innovators who want to translate their out-of-the-box ideas into business. These are the two pillars on which the growth of the Italian venture capital shall be founded. And this is, too, what emerged from the Italian Tech Tour, which just took place in Rome. Giuseppe Donvito, Partner of P101, participated as a Selection Committee Member – helping select the 26 companies that peached their projects to more than 80 potential investors, venture capitalists and representatives of international corporations.
The Tech Tour is a platform for encounter and discussion that appeared for the first time in Italy 15 years ago – its first edition dating back to 2003. That was a historic era, when the Italian ecosystem started changing deeply, evolving until today, consistently attracting foreign investors and finally becoming a main player in the development of the country. However, we are still quite far away from perfection.
“The Italian ecosystem of new tech companies – Donvito explains – is characterized by a high attractiveness for venture capitalists. This appeal comes from some specifically Italian features – the quality of our start-up companies, their present growth rate and their promising risk-performance ratio. In short, even when compared to other, by far more mature markets such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom, Italy proves to harvest many excellent companies, which are also still “inexpensive”. A real Eldorado for those who invest in growth.”
In short, our country is a rich humus for innovation. What is missing, as we all know too well, is capital. The Italian venture capital is underdeveloped: one only needs to have a look at the data to know. According to Aifi, early stage was worth 104 million in 2016, spread over 128 transactions. French VC was 1.8 billion, German VC was 2.6 billion, and UK VC was 4.3 billion. Not to mention the 7 billion from New York and the 27 billion from San Francisco.
“There is a tremendous need to increase investment in Italy: venture capital funds must receive both public money and corporate money” – as Fabio Gallia, managing director of CDP, underlined during the event. “Through start-up investing, corporations have the potential to accelerate internal innovation, eventually buying those very companies the fund has invested in. This process would complete the circle of venture capital through an exit, as is the case in Northern Europe.”
The Tech Tour, with its 25 itinerant events in Europe, focus on creating a transparent environment where experts can share best practices and knowledge, in order to identify and support the best emerging technologies in the old continent. The community began operating in 1998 with two companies – Europe Unlimited, founded by William Stevens in Brussels, and Tech Tour, in Geneva, created by venture capitalist Sven Lingjaerde. Over the years the most active European entrepreneurs and investors have come into contact and networked through this platform, building smart partnerships and succeeding in connecting the dots from idea to enterprise. In 2013, the two companies joined forces and became one of the largest European communities in the industry: more than 2,000 companies and 750 investors take part each year to the Tech Tour.