500 million Fund for technology transfer and other urgent measures for the defense and support of innovation

Prepared by Vitalba Passarelli, Giovanni Marra e Roberta Cristiano

Article 42 of Decree-Law no. 34/2020 (the so-called Decreto Rilancio), published in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic no. 128/2020, in order to support and accelerate the processes of innovation, growth and long-lasting restart of the national production system, strengthening the links and synergies with the technology and applied research system, launched a fund to support technology transfer and entrepreneurship operating in the field of technological innovation.

With an endowment of 500 million euros for the year 2020, the aim of the Technology Transfer Fund (hereinafter the “Fund”) is to promote initiatives and investments useful for the exploitation and the use of research results in companies operating in Italy, with particular reference to innovative start-ups and innovative SMEs.

The 4th of December decree of the Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE), published in the Official Gazette on 9th January 2021, defines what will be the perimeter of the Fund’s interventions, which will be managed by the ENEA Agency with the support of Enea Tech Foundation. The Fund’s interventions are aimed at supporting the development of strategic technologies for the competitiveness of the Country through investments in target companies with the following characteristics:

  • research centers (both public and private), science and technology parks, university spin-offs and spinouts, startups and innovative SMEs, with high growth potential, unlisted and operating throughout Italy;
  • be in the process of incorporation or be incorporated by no more than sixty months and in the start-up phase and, in any case, the intervention aims at pre-commercial and pre-competitive activities;
  • operating in the strategic national interest areas: healthcare, information technology, green economy and deep tech (additive manufacturing, nanotechnology, new materials, robotics, artificial intelligence).

The target companies must be in the full and free exercise of their rights and must not be in voluntary liquidation, nor subject to bankruptcy procedures with liquidation purposes or falling within the definition of “enterprises in difficulty”, based on article 2, point 18) of Regulation (EU) n.651/2014.

The Fund’s interventions may take the form of equity and quasi-equity investments, convertible loans and equity financial instruments, contracts and grants containing convertible options, depending on the characteristics and specific financing needs of the target companies as well as the projects to be supported. The Fund will support each company by financing an amount between 100 thousand and 15 million euro, in compliance with the limits provided for in the facilitating legislation time to time applicable.

The interventions referred to may be carried out by the implementing entities either autonomously, as a single investor (also bringing their own resources in addition to those of the Fund) or in coordination or co-investment with companies, institutional or private funds, public bodies and entities, including territorial ones, as well as through the use of EU resources. The same equity investments may eventually be enhanced and transferred to market operators, companies, other public or private subjects carrying out industrial or commercial activities, according with a market logic and in such a way as to guarantee maximum transparency and participation in the intervention, without prejudice to any pre-emption rights or repurchase obligation on the part of the shareholders.

The ENEA Agency will implement the above-mentioned interventions aimed at fostering collaboration between public and private entities in the implementation of innovative projects and spin-offs. These interventions may provide for the development of planning, coordination, promotion, stimulation of research and development through the provision of technologically advanced solutions, innovative processes or products, strengthening of structures and research results dissemination, technical and scientific advice and training, as well as activities to support the growth of start-ups and SMEs with high innovative potential.

These activities will also be activated by:

  • Fund opportunities promotion and dissemination;
  • databases aimed at facilitating the identification of entrepreneurs, researchers and other professional figures for the skills integration in technology transfer projects;
  • platforms or other useful tools to facilitate knowledge of the state-of-the art of intellectual property rights in the technological fields supported by the Fund or in the technology transfer initiatives promoted by Enea Tech Foundation;
  • seminars and other training activities for the creation of professional figures in the technology transfer and innovation fields;
  • research and studies in the innovation, research and technology transfer fields;
  • other projects aimed at promoting technology transfer promoted by the implementing entity in collaboration with universities, research bodies and other institutions or bodies competent in the research and innovation field.

Interventions are implemented in compliance with EU regulations on state aids, in accordance with Legislative Decree no. 50/2016 and subsequent amendments and additions, and further existing national and EU provisions on the awarding of public contracts or through forms of collaboration between public administrations, also pursuant to Law no. 241/1990, in relation to the most appropriate forms for the implementation of the specific technology transfer project.

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