+8.6% in October 2022 and encouraging economic performances.
Continues the collaboration between Anitec-Assinform, the Confindustria Association that brings together the main Ict companies, and InfoCamere, the company of the Italian Chambers of Commerce for digital innovation, which today presents the fourth edition of the monitoring analysis dedicated to the economic performance of startups and innovative SMBs in the Ict sector.
Through the monitoring report ICT startups and innovative SMBs: economic performance, focused on the economic and financial performance of startups and innovative SMBs in the Ict sector, Anitec-Assinform and InfoCamere want to offer an objective and continuous reference for the monitoring of this universe that contributes and will contribute to the growth of the Ict sector and to the innovation of the economic system as a whole. The report presents updated data: as of 10 October 2022 for data relating to Ict startups and innovative SMBs; the fourth quarter of 2021 for employee data; to the period 2018-2021 for annual budget data.
In 2022 the demographic growth of Innovative Ict startups and SMBs remains strong. There are 8,416 startups with ATECO code associated with the Ict sector registered in October 2022, with an increase of 8.6% compared to the 7,749 recorded at the end of Q3 2021. The territorial distribution remains stable with more than half of the companies concentrated in three regions: Lombardia which accounts for 29.4% of ICT SMBs, Lazio (14%) and Campania (8.4%). This is followed by Emilia-Romagna (6.8%), Veneto (6.8%), Piemonte (5.6%), Toscana (4.8%), Puglia (4.8%), Sicilia (3.9%), Marche (2.1%), while the other regions represent shares of less than 2%.
The distribution of Ict SMBs by strand of activity was also substantially stable, with significant shares in Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning (12.1%), IoT (10.7%), Mobile apps (8.3%) and important shares for Big Data and Data Science (5.1%), Blockchain (4.7%), Cloud (3.8%), Industry 4.0 (3.7%). The share of Ict SMBs in cybersecurity and crypto is very low (2.2%).
From this edition of the monitoring, an "enlarged" perimeter was analyzed which, in addition to the 8,416 companies with ATECO Ict code, also includes 3,071 companies that have registered with ATECO codes not associated with the Ict sector, but which declare - in the "Showcases" section of the special register - to carry out digital activities. With this new perimeter of 11,487 companies, the Ict share of the total number of Ict startups and innovative SMBs (16,554 in October 2022) increases to 69%, or more than 2 out of 3.
The productivity indicators by company indicate a progressive improvement especially for startups and innovative Ict SMBs active in the digital sectors of activity from the most dynamic markets, such as 4.0 and Digital Enabler. Overall, Ict SMBs with deposited balance sheets produced goods and services in 2021 for a total of 2.5 billion euros (1.6 in 2020). The strong concentration of the median on values even lower than less than a fifth of the average confirms that an increasingly significant share of innovative Ict startups and SMBs is in an embryonic phase of development. A development that is finally accelerating in 2021 compared to the previous two years, as confirmed by the dynamics of overall production, average and median in more dynamic demographic growth in the last year, especially in the lines of activity 4.0 and other digital technologies and solutions.
Overall, in 2021 for every euro of production, SMBs and innovative Ict startups generated 32.3 cents of added value (32.2 in 2020) against 22.5 cents in the non-Ict segment (19.5 in 2020), confirming the greater creation of value by the activities developed by companies specialized in advanced technology markets. Overall, average and median value added in the Ict segment are clearly recovering in 2021 (33.9% annual growth of overall VA, 65.4% of median VA) and, with the exception of the median, return to 2019 levels (when the economic and economic impact of the pandemic was still in its infancy). These dynamics bring the average added value per employee in Ict to 48.2 thousand euros (50 thousand euros for companies with enhanced digital showcases), against a non-Ict average of 41.8 thousand euros. This means that the productivity per unit of work (or per employee) of innovative start-ups and SMBs in the Ict sector is higher than non-Ict ones. The more Ict companies born in our economy, the greater the ability to achieve higher levels of productivity.
The better performance in the digital field (4.0, Digital Enabler etc) is also reflected in the level of net profit, with a median value for these companies higher than the other ICT SPMII, which in any case for at least 50% close the 2021 financial statements at balance or in profit, generating overall 53% of production in the Ict-digital sector. However, losses are not lacking, indeed worsening to -188 million euros (-142.7 million in 2020) against -78.9 million euros for non-Ict ones (-83.7 million in 2020) even if at an average level the individual company results are less negative for the Ict sector, especially in the 4.0 and Digital Enabler business strands. These results show a greater overall impact on management by non-operating costs (financial and extraordinary charges and provision and amortization policies) at Ict SBMs compared to the non-Ict segment, although not pervasive, since the average and median result of slightly better net profitability or in line with the non-Ict segment.
Turning to the profitability of equity (ROE) or the economic return on investment made by the company's shareholders, at least 50% of Ict startups and innovative SMBs have consistently recorded a positive Roe in the last three years (0.016% in 2021). Ict companies with innovative digital activities have been recording better Roe performance for at least three years. Similarly, the 2021 profitability of capital invested (Roa) in startups and innovative ICT SMBs shows improving values for Digital Enabler and other digital technologies and solutions, while it is substantially stable for the other strands on positive values but not better than non-Ict SMBs.
The financial indicators - from those of financial equilibrium to those of asset rotation to those on the potential of resources to generate value over a period of several years - confirm also for 2021 that the initial financial imbalance of many startups and innovative Ict SMBs follows the consolidation of activities in the subsequent phases with actual potential for the medium to long term.
Overall, the indices show a good ability of company resources to show economic benefits over a period of several years. Especially:
- The median index of immediate liquidity confirms a financial equilibrium at least satisfactory if not even better in at least half of Ict startups, while in the most innovative lines of activity since 2018 the median and average values of the Roa are stably above the optimal level;
- The ratio between debts and equity of startups and innovative IctT SMBs shows a median value close to the "limit" equilibrium levels, but the presence of financial structures with imbalances to be contained and decidedly unbalanced financial structures remains;
- The median revenue per investment unit at Ict startups and innovative SMBs (as well as non-Ict) tends to be low as sales volumes are low, especially in the first years of activity;
- The value of intangible resources (especially patents, trademarks, goodwill) remains high, confirming a second distinctive characteristic of Ict and non-Ict innovative startups and SMBs.
According to Marco Gay, President of Anitec-Assinform, "The data we are presenting today with InfoCamere confirm the effervescence of the segment of startups and innovative Ict SMBs. These companies have achieved greater added value with better levels of productivity, especially in the 4.0 and digital enabler strands. They have maintained financial sustainability over the medium term and continue to generate margin. Innovative Ict startups and SMBs, which have the ability to create new products and services and generate new jobs, confirm themselves as an engine of innovation in every production sector and strengthen their role for the economic growth of our country. Today it is essential to support the innovation that comes from startups and innovative SMBs and the many young and very young people who have ideas, talents, skills and above all the determination to create new business. In a phase of profound transformation of work, industry and global value chains, we have the opportunity to relaunch our economy by focusing on digital innovation and young people to give new life and vitality to the economic system".
For Paolo Ghezzi, General Manager of InfoCamere "The report confirms that we are facing a healthy universe, bearer of dynamics capable of helping the country to make the leap in innovation and digital transformation. The quality of the data analysis of complex and evolving phenomena such as that of startups and innovative SMBs - summarized by the information on the startup.registroimprese.it portal - is increasingly central to intercepting the needs and developments of technological innovation in the country. When these are certified and available in a timely, up-to-date and detailed way – such as those of the Register of Companies of the Chambers of Commerce – their value becomes irreplaceable to understand the trends that govern an economic sector, its connections with others and to intervene with targeted policies in order to promote its growth."