With an initial budget of 45 million euros, a new development Fund looks for innovative ideas coming from SMEs
Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE) made the first steps to distribute some funds allocated for the development of innovative projects in the Artificial Intelligence, blockchain and Internet of Things fields. We’re talking about an initial budget of 45 million euros: 25 for AI projects, 10 for blockchain initiatives, 10 for projects related to Internet of Things applications.
The funding program actually started on December 6, 2021, when criteria and methods for the “Fondo per lo sviluppo delle tecnologie e delle applicazioni di intelligenza artificiale, blockchain e internet of things” fund were defined in the Italian budget. Now, a new "technical" decree defined how to select which projects and initiatives can get the funding.
Who can apply? Companies and research centers, of any size, provided that their projects or research activities are related to one of nine priority sectors: industry and manufacturing, education, agrifood, health, environment and infrastructure, culture and tourism, logistics and mobility, security and information technologies, aerospace.
SMEs, more than large companies, are at the center of the new fund. 60% of the available resources are reserved for projects proposed by SMEs and by business networks composed by SMEs. Large companies can apply for financial help, but only as co-proponents in projects where SMEs play the main role. That means projects where SMEs represent at least 30% of the eligible project costs.
Eligible projects must include "industrial research", "experimental development", "organisation innovation" and "process innovation" activities. Project costs must be between 500 thousand euros and 2 million euros. Any funded project must last between 24 and 30 months.
Each proposed project will be evaluated by Infratel based on different indicators. They range from proposers’ characteristics (technical-organizational capacity, quality of collaborations, financial structure) to project quality (technical feasibility, expected relevance, degree of innovation) and project impacts, such as industrial interest and development potential.