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Third Italy4Innovation event, focusing on alternative funding instruments for SMEs

The third event in the Italy4Innovation series was held at the Embassy of Italy in London on 5 December. The series was launched by the ambassador, Raffaele Trombetta, in September, to provide a platform for collaboration and dialogue on innovation between Italy and the UK, in order to promote investment in the most dynamic sectors of Italy’s economy.

After the launch on 17 September, a second event focusing on cybersecurity was held in October. This third event examined alternative forms of investment in micro, small and medium enterprises, particularly crowdfunding.

In his opening speech the ambassador highlighted the importance and topical nature of the subject, especially in the light of the fundamental role that SMEs play in Italy’s economy. Professor Giancarlo Giudici, who leads the Italian crowdfunding monitoring unit at Milan Polytechnic, outlined the current landscape and prospects for the sector in Italy, which is seeing exponential growth following a series of recent legislative interventions.

This was followed by a panel discussion comparing the regulatory frameworks, the advantages and the critical aspects of the sectors in Italy and the UK. The Italian panelists were Andrea Crovetto, the CEO of Epic SIM SpA and a member of Italia Fintech, and Guglielmo Pascarelli of AIFI, an Italian private-equity, venture-capital and private-debt association. The British panellists were Bruce Davis and Atuksha Poonwasie, both high-profile figures in the British crowdfunding industry and directors of the UK Crowdfunding Association (UKCFA). The discussion was moderated by Pamela Barbaglia, the chief deals correspondent for EMEA at Thomson Reuters.

It emerged from the conversation that the turnover of this sector in the UK is second only to that of the US and significantly greater than in any other European country, thanks in part to many years of experimentation and openness on the part of the authorities.

In Italy, where the sector is still taking its first steps, there is, however, explosive growth in volume, and a growing number of SMEs and start-ups are discovering how these channels can be a useful alternative to the traditional banking sector for accessing credit. Bank deposits in particular, even in small quantities, offer an extremely useful source of credit for smaller Italian businesses, and with significantly smaller risks, considering the remarkable resilience that Italian SMEs have demonstrated even during particularly challenging times.

The Italy4Innovation series will continue in 2019 with events dedicated to various branches of research, development and technology for growth, telling the story of Italy’s most innovative and promising businesses.

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