The capital of startups is losing pieces but remains the most innovative

The capital of startups is losing pieces but remains the most innovative

The emerging business world is shrinking. Rome is the city where the most digital companies are born (Milan is the city where this contraction has been least severe): the role of the university center and the post-pandemic problems

There was a contraction, even quite high. But Rome remains the Italian city where the most startups are born. According to research carried out by Cerved (IT company for data management and processing), 9,638 new startups were born in the city in 2022 (-906 units compared to 2021, equal to - 8.6 percent), a higher number than those born in Milan, which are 8751, which however is holding up better (-358, equal to -3.9 percent). Above the thousand there are then only Naples and Turin: the first with 2569 (-14.2 percent on 2021) and the second with 1661 (-14 percent). Whoever loses the least of all is the Lombard capital, but the capital, we said, wins by number, confirming a trend that has already been active for some years. To be such, a startup must be an innovative company based on technology or digital, replicable, not necessarily on the web, even if almost all of them are.

One of the reasons for these numbers is that Rome is the largest university area in Europe, with about 400,000 students. This means a huge potential pool of talent, the first engine of startups, while the second is capital: who has the idea and who invests in it to develop it. But here is also one of the best schools for programmers: the Luiss School 42. “Rome is doing well on talent, the first step, but suffers from the lack of private capital. This is why many startups are born and establish themselves here by finding their first lenders, but to make the big leap they leave: in Milan, but above all abroad”, says Gianmarco Carnovale, president of Roma Startup, an association that presents itself as a place comparison and coordination between the subjects of the startupping ecosystem: universities, research centres, public and private companies, investors.

Here, therefore, many good ideas are born, which then find success elsewhere. The most popular destinations are Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​Lisbon, New York, San Francisco and London, despite Brexit. The system is funnel-shaped: of the new born in the medium term, 1 out of 10 survives, but those who remain in the field, if they find the right accelerator, have a 70-80 percent chance of being successful. “The accelerator is a company that believes in you, provides you with the first starting capital (from 50 to 150 thousand euros), but imposes a time schedule on you, with development stages to follow”, says Carnovale. Something similar to the Pnrr.

Once this phase has been overcome, we move on to the next: finding important capitals for the big leap. The best is to intercept a 'venture capital' fund that invests a lot of money and at that point it's done. “The novelty of recent years is that now it is not necessarily necessary to move to the USA to have access to large capital, because it is the large American funds that scan the countries in search of new ideas: they come looking for you, like hunters would do of heads”, explains Gianmarco Carnovale again. The beauty of tech companies is that the revenues are (much) higher than the costs. In short, if you are successful, you can become rich in a short time.

As for the sectors, Roman startups are strong in artificial intelligence, sports, games and entertainment, energy, sustainability and agri-food tech (technology applied to agriculture). Among the most successful Roman startups in recent years are Translated, which is an automatic translation program on the web; FitPrime, training methods combined with nutritional plans; Vikey, an automated check-in system for apartments and b&bs; Kiwi Bot, robotics system applied to delivery, founded by Colombians but developed in Rome. In a few years dinner will no longer be brought by a rider but by a robot.

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