Innovative companies: definition, examples, tax breaks

All about innovative companies: what they are and what are the tax benefits they can benefit from, with some entirely Italian examples.

The innovative companies are considered a fundamental part of the productive fabric. With the digital and ecological transition at the top of the to-do list, innovators have taken center stage. The government focuses on new and in general on small and medium-sized enterprises that have the opportunity to implement – or have already implemented – investment programs to innovate their processes .

Various aid and incentive programs have been focused on companies that want to be innovative, not only for the contribution they make from the point of view of technological progress per se, but also for their contribution to the country’s economic growth . But what is meant by an innovative company? Let’s find out.

Guide to innovative businesses

  •  What are innovative companies?
  •  The differences between innovative startups and innovative SMEs
  •  Examples of innovative companies
  •  Tax concessions for innovative companies

What are innovative companies?

The innovativeness of a company is recognized by the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) and by the law in general through a list of innovative companies, which can be registered on the basis of three requirements (to be met in whole or in part):

  1. an expense in Research and Development equivalent to at least 3% of the higher between production cost and turnover ;
  2. highly skilled workforce , i.e. 20% PhDs, PhD students or researchers; or 33% with a master’s degree (each salary recipient is considered in the calculation);
  3. be the owner, have filed or licensed a patent or software .

The differences between innovative startups and innovative SMEs

Among the innovative companies , startups must be distinguished , i.e. those with a maximum of 5 years of life, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) , which in a certain sense represent the second evolutionary stage of a startup. Both categories have their own personal register (innovative startups and innovative SMEs). The first difference between the two is that startups, to be considered innovative, just need to satisfy one of the three requirements listed above; SMEs, on the other hand, need two.

The second difference lies in the company name: while startups have the constraint of developing, producing and marketing highly technological products or services, SMEs do not. The last difference is in the size: SMEs must remain within the 50 million turnover , or the 43 million assets in the balance sheet, in any case they must not exceed 250 employees; the startup must remain just within the 5 million production value .

Finally, to obtain the special status of “innovative”, both must:

  • have certified the last balance sheet;
  • not be listed on the stock exchange;
  • (for SMEs) not already registered in the register of innovative startups.

Registration in the register is obtained by sending a self-certification (model available on the MISE website) stating that the company possesses the requisites required by the authority; the latter is responsible for verifying its veracity. Once the checks have been passed, registration will take place.

Examples of innovative companies

Italy can boast, in the sector of innovative companies, various activities with a high potential, already demonstrated. Two virtuous examples are Mamma 2.0 and Everli , both in the field of e-commerce . The first is a company founded by two women, which sells products for children and is based on the e-commerce site Mukako.

The second, formerly Supermercato24, is still an e-commerce site, which has partnerships with various supermarkets and big retailers, and takes care of bringing the shopping, ordered online, directly to the customer’s home.

Tax concessions for innovative companies

A series of concessions from a fiscal and financial point of view is envisaged for innovative companies, which can be used immediately after registration in the register of innovative companies. The common measures between startups and SMEs are:

  • incentives for the purchase of shares : deductions for individuals and deductions for legal entities for 30% of the amount paid;
  • the ‘ free access to public guaranteed loans (up to 80%) of the Guarantee Fund;
  • l ‘ exemption for registration and any subsequent act by the payment of stamp duty ;
  • ad hoc equity crowdfunding campaigns , i.e. the widespread purchase of shares;
  • 30% discount on the price list of the ICE Agency , which helps in internationalization;
  • a series of exceptions to ordinary corporate regulations , such as the possibility of selling packages of particular shares (for example without voting rights), or to carry out transactions on one’s own;
  • l ‘ exemption from penalties for a variety of exercises at a loss or downtime established by the regulations for the shell companies and systematic loss;
  • the possibility of paying employees and collaborators with share packages (or stock options).

The SMEs have more than the startup can reduce loss not one but two years after registration. Startups, on the other hand, boast other additional measures:

  • the possibility of establishing oneself electronically and without paying anything;
  • with the Smart & Start Italia incentive, they have access to a zero-interest loan, guaranteed for some investment costs up to 90% , to be repaid within 11 years from the receipt of the last installment;
  • from the point of view of employment, the possibility of using fixed-term contracts is granted , even with multiple renewals ;
  • from a fiscal point of view, bureaucracy is streamlined (compliance visa) for VAT compensation ;
  • finally, the possibility of becoming an SME is guaranteed , without losing the previous advantages , or, if the business does not go through, with the so-called Fail Fast , they are avoided bankruptcy procedures, arrangements with creditors and compulsory liquidations .

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