Italy’s startup and VC ecosystem is still in its developing stages, supported by its advanced economy and membership in the EU. According to Dealroom, amongst all EU countries, Italian startups ranked 14th and the VC investment scored 12th place in 2021. However, the innovation economy is on the rise, as Italian VC transactions steadily increase. The entrepreneurial environment in the country is also supported by a vast network of active VC firms as well as incubators and accelerator programs for startups. Having evaluated the VC scene in the country it is time to delve deeper into the accelerators.
So without further ado, let’s find out about the leading Italian accelerators and incubators.
An interactive platform Retail Hub is the first business accelerator that helps brands and retailers find solutions tailored to their needs. The hub works with enterprise-ready startups, scaleups, and unicorns, providing lead generation, market assessment, events, scouting, advisory, and training. Retail Hub operates in the following retail sectors; grocery, design, fashion, luxury, pharma, automotive, sports, HR, banking, beauty, and more.
Startup Wise Guys
Startup Wise Guys is an accelerator, that aims to support the development of startups from the Baltics and CEE as well as other European regions, as they have been rapidly developing their presence and activities in other countries – such as Italy. Its projects support startups in establishing a global presence and are located both online and offline. During the mentorship-driven program over 250 mentors and experts guide startups to help them validate, develop and successfully sell their products to business customers. Startup Wise Guys have four verticals and is looking for early-stage B2B SaaS, Fintech, Cyber, Sustainability, and XR startups. It is worth mentioning that after finished program, startups can join alumni community and dedicated events. In January 2023 they begin a new Milan-based program – SaaS Startup Accelerator, packed with industry leaders, funding opportunities, and comprehensive business development support.
DigitalMagics is a business incubator, developing digital businesses and providing acceleration for startups that bring technological value. The incubator initiates Open Innovation programs to assist Italian startups in their innovation process, service delivery, and production. Through a collaboration with Talent Garden, an Italian coworking network for digital sector professionals, and Tamburi Investment Partners, an Italian investment and merchant bank, Digital Magics has opened several coworking campuses offering training courses.
Luiss Enlabs by LVenture Group and Luiss University joint venture is a startup accelerator supporting early-stage businesses, with a program happening twice a year. To be precise, Luiss Enlabs invests €250K in ambitious digital startups and helps them to build valuable partnerships. The accelerator also facilitates diversification, scalability, and global impact during all fundraising phases and provides access to its extensive network of over 90 companies and founders.
PoliHub is an innovation park startup accelerator supporting companies at any stage of development through services, relationships, and skills. Polihub offers a 12-16 week acceleration program for technological and scientific startups seeking market entry and incubation with mentorship, personalized meetings, business strategy, and pitching assistance. Additionally, Polihub offers workstations, offices, and meeting rooms in its Prometheus coworking space.
dPixel is a venture incubator and an innovation company that helps growing startups, companies, and institutions through innovation. It connects ambitious startups with established businesses, helps companies with digital transformation to enhance their competitiveness, and assists institutions with building initiatives for social impact and economic development. Additionally, dPixel launched a 4-month innovation course, OpenPMI, which allows young Italian graduates to work within companies to provide new and fresh solutions.
UniCredit Start Lab
UniCredit Start Lab is a business platform that supports young entrepreneurs and innovative startups in all sectors. It offers a multidimensional program with cash grants, network development, mentoring, and managerial training. In addition, UniCredit Start Lab provides industrial, commercial, technological, and strategic partnerships. The platform also serves as a commercial bank that operates in 17 European countries.
Fin+Tech is initiated by several Italian VCs and incubators: CDP, Digital Magics, Startupbootcamp, Nexi, and Fintech District. It is a fintech and insurtech accelerator that invests up to €300K for 16 chosen Italian startups and offers promotional support through lessons, masterclasses, and fundraising assistance. The program lasts 4 months and includes three phases – an in-depth project evaluation, development, and presentation.
Industrio is the first Italian hardware startup accelerator that builds and funds innovative product businesses. It offers technical, scientific, and business assistance and access to its extensive network. In addition, Industrio’s entrepreneurial team collaborates with industrial and manufacturing partners who share knowledge and skills with the funded startups. The accelerator program lasts over 4 months, during which young companies work on prototype development, get manufacturing support, launch products to the Italian market, and gets €25K funding.
H-FARM is a space that combines innovation, entrepreneurship, and education. It helps young companies and entrepreneurs create new business models and transform digitally through its educational programs within its two schools, college, digital hub, and foundation. At the H-FARM campus, sports facilities, a conference hall, dining options, a library, and training rooms are available to students.
StartupBootcamp (FashionTech) is a yearly three-month acceleration program that supports global fashiontech startups. The accelerator has been in operation for three years, working with 150 mentors, partners, and investors and holding demo days for startups. For several months, participants have access to the coworking space, various masterclasses, an extensive global network, and discounts from leading tech providers like Amazon, Google, Stripe, and more. Furthermore, Startupbootcamp hosts a digital event, a Virtual FastTrack Tour, allowing potential participants to learn more about the accelerator and intensive program.
Fashion Technology Accelerator Milan
One more fashiontech accelerator, Fashion Technology Accelerator Milan, operates in the fashion, luxury, and retail sectors. Its acceleration program lasts half a year and includes €60K of services and €40K in cash for an equity stake of 10%, strategic partnership, business development, marketing assistance, and more. Additionally to acceleration, Fashion Technology Accelerator provides consulting sessions that involve revenue analysis, KPIs definition, marketing strategy definition, and product optimization.
Techstars Smart Mobility
Techstars Smart Mobility is a month-long program hosted in Torino in a hybrid mode, online and offline. The program supports numerous companies, this year 12, providing $120K for each and access to its extensive global network of mentors and corporate partners. The Turin-based Techstars Smart Mobility works on product-market-fit, fundraising, sales boost, and go-to-market strategy development and supports startups focusing on sustainable cities, corporates, and societies.
Pushapp Lab is a startup studio supporting consumer mobile companies, providing yearly support and funding of €25K. The Pushap Lab team supports startups at any stage of development and offers app strategy, design, and development for ambitious startups. Currently, the studio labels itself as a digital product strategy consultancy.
Impact Hub supports impact entrepreneurs, corporate organizations, and public institutions who strive for a better future. The hub connects entrepreneurs with large organizations, investors, and the public sector by providing access to its resources and spaces and organizing startup support programs and corporate innovation initiatives. Impact Hub has a global network, including 8 entities in Italy.
Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Centre
Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Centre is initiated by Intesa Sanpaolo Group, one of Italy’s leading European banking groups. The center conducts research projects, analyzes trends, and supports startups and businesses based on open innovation and the circular economy. It also organizes matchmaking meetings with firms and investors, provides access to funding, and collaborates with international acceleration programs to support Italian startups. Intesa Sanpaolo Group assists businesses focused on aerospace, agrifood tech, bio economy, industry 4.0, cleantech, fashion, tourism, medtech, and smart mobility.
FoodTech Acceleration Platform
FoodTech Acceleration Platform contributes to the development of the Italian foodtech sector, offering help to startups and companies. The platform assists with project and proof of concept development, international startup scouting, and more. Additionally, it has a vast network of various VCs, angel investors, incubators, and accelerators worldwide. FoodTech Acceleration Platform collaborates with universities and research centers to track industry developments.
Vittoria Hub supports startups with three stages of development – incubation, which includes business idea development and MVP, adoption, which involves help from the MVP to PoC, and acceleration to the local and international markets. The program happens in the hub’s workspace in Milan. Vittoria Hub is a project of Vittoria Assicurazioni, an Italian insurance company. It is an insurtech incubator that fosters open innovation and new insurance business models.
Nana Bianca provides coworking space, a startup studio, and acceleration to various tech startups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, and more. Additionally, it offers access to its extensive network, and exclusive acceleration programs. Among the active ones are Hubble, a 4-month program for seed and pre-seed tech startups, and Baker Hughes Energy Ideas Generation Program, which targets startups, SMEs, and research projects operating on energy-related technologies. Additionally, Nana Blanca hosts various events and summits dedicated to developing the business area in Italy.