The Italian Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) recently presented its new incentive scheme for supporting Italian companies and SMEs interested in participating in large EU collaborative research and development projects.

Low levels of Italian engagement with the EU’s €80 billion Horizon 2020 funding programme so far have prompted the government to take action. Data collected on recent industry engagement with the Horizon 2020 programme indicates that Italian companies, on the whole, prefer to pursue small funding grants (such as those provided under the SME Instrument) rather than larger and more competitive opportunities. Economic uncertainty resulting in a general reluctance to invest resources into collaborative research and development projects is being identified as the main reason behind Italy’s low engagement.

The government sponsored participation support instrument hopes to incentivise greater Italian participation via the provision of soft loans that can cover part of the projects costs. The percentage of the eligible costs covered depends on the size of the company: 50% for large companies, 60% and 70% for SMEs and micro enterprises respectively. The minimum total eligible costs is €800k and the maximum is €3 million. The resources allocated by MISE amount to €300 million – important to note is that 60% of this total has been ring fenced for SMEs and Micro Enterprises.

The application process opens online in late October. LNE Group is supporting clients in Italy in understanding whether they could qualify for this support mechanism, and in developing their request application.