100 million euros available to support the Digital Transformation of SMEs, 10% of cash grant

Applications to be submitted from 15th December

Prepared by Vitalba Passarelli, Giovanni Marra and Maria Lisa Centini

On 1st October, it was published the directorial decree of MISE (Ministry of Economic Development), defining terms and procedures to submit the applications for the subsidies relating to the Digital Transformation of SMEs. The financial resources available amount to € 100 million.

This measure was introduced by art. 29 of the so-called “Growth Decree”, to support the technological and digital transformation of the production processes of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through the implementation of projects aimed at implementing the enabling technologies identified in the National Plan Industry 4.0 as well as other technologies relating to digital technologies solutions of the supply chain.

The eligible projects, with an expenditure ranging between € 50,000 and € 500,000, must be carried out within a production unit of the proposing company located on the national territory. The subsidies amount to 50% of the expenses incurred, of which 10% in the form of cash grant (i.e. a lost fund contribution) and 40% as subsidized loan.

The subsidized loan must be repaid by the beneficiary without interest from the date of the last payment of the subsidies, according to an amortization plan with constant deferred half-yearly installments expiring on 31st May and 30th November of each year, in a maximum period of 7 years.

The Digital Transformation call is aimed at SMEs that on the date of the application met the following requirements:

  • are registered as “active” in the chamber of commerce;
  • operate mainly in the manufacturing sector and provide services to manufacturing companies, as well as, for the years 2019-2020, companies operating in the tourism sector;
  • have achieved revenues for at least € 100,000 in the last year;
  • have approved and filed at the chamber of commerce at least two financial statements;
  • be not subject to bankruptcy proceedings or any other equivalent financial crisis situation according to current legislation.

SMEs that meet the above mentioned requirements have the possibility of jointly participate to the call (for a maximum number of 10 participants) through the network contract or other contractual forms of collaboration, including the consortium and the partnership agreement in which a DIH (digital innovation hub) or an EDI (digital ecosystem for innovation) as defined by the National Plan I4.0 acts as lead partner.

Eligible projects must be aimed at the technological and digital transformation of the production processes through the introduction and implementation of:

  1. enabling technologies identified by the National Plan I4.0. (advanced manufacturing solutions, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, simulation, horizontal and vertical integration, industrial internet, cloud, cybersecurity, big data and analytics) and / or;
  2. technologies related to digital technological solutions of the supply chain, aimed at:
  3. the optimization of the management of the distribution chain and the management of relations with the various actors;
  4. the software;
  5. platforms and digital applications for management and coordination of logistics with high integration characteristics of service activities;
  6. other technologies, such as e-commerce systems, mobile and internet payment systems, fintech, electronic systems for data exchange (electronic data interchange-EDI), geolocation, technologies for the in-store customer experience, system integration applied to process automation, blockchain, artificial intelligence, internet of things.

Each subject can submit, both individually and jointly, only one application for access the subsidies. Such application can concern:

  • a process innovation project, concerning the application of a new or significantly improved method (including significant changes in techniques, equipment or software) of production and distribution;
  • an organization innovation project, regarding the application of new organizational methods in business practices, in the organization of the workplace and in the external relations of a company;
  • an investment project based on the purchase of tangible and intangible fixed assets and/or functional services to enable the technological and digital transformation of the company through the implementation of the technologies mentioned above.

Furthermore, these projects must be launched after the submission of the application for access the subsidies and they must foresee a duration not exceeding 18 months after the date of the granting provision, without prejudice to the possibility for the Ministry to recognize to the beneficiaries an extension of the deadline of additional 6 months.

Without prejudice to the aid intensity and the regulation described above, the concessions of the subsidies for projects concerning process or organizational innovation is subject to the conditions and aid intensity provided for by article 29 of EU regulation 651/2014 (Exemption Regulation), while the subsidies for investment projects are granted within the limits and according to the ceilings established by the Commission Regulation (EU) 1407/2013 of 18 December 2013 (“De minimis” Regulation).

Applications for access the subsidies, granted through an evaluation procedure “at the counter” pursuant to art. 5 of Legislative Decree no. 123/98, can only be submitted electronically, starting from 12am on December 15th 2020 and the requests received are admitted to the preliminary phase based on the daily chronological order of presentation. The bylaws and deed of incorporation of the proponents and, in the case of aggregations, the underlying contract to the relations between the parties, must also be attached to the application for access the subsidies.

Let’s Talk

For a deeper discussion, please contact:

Vitalba Passarelli

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti


Giovanni Marra

PwC TLS Avvocati e Commercialisti

Senior Manager