The region Friuli Venezia Giulia in North-Eastern Italy created an in-house society to manage financial instruments fueled by structural funds to support companies R&D projects.
Good practices from Lithuania, Portugal, and Spain have been influential in inspiring the development of the new financial intermediary body.
In the project ‘Financial Instruments for Innovation’ (Innova-FI), eight partners from eight countries have worked on improving the capability to design and manage financial instruments to ease credit access for SMEs. The partners believe that regional and local authorities should play a proactive role as intermediaries. Their ambition is to improve the regional innovation ecosystems by strengthening the offer of financial schemes suitable for the different phases of the businesses life cycle. Moving away from a grants culture, very much established in the research, technology development, and innovation field was the ambition of Innova-FI.
In the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, a number of policy changes have been introduced thanks to the peer learning processes. First, the VC guarantee fund that was piloted during the project has been adapted thanks to the learnings and inputs collected by the counterparts. Second, crowdlending and crowdfunding have been explored as financial vehicles to support the most innovative local companies ensuring a leverage effect of public money. This was inspired n in particular by the Lithuanian Raspberry fund. Last, but not least, the regional government decided to establish a brand new in-house society called FVG Plus Spa devoted to managing the EU structural funds flows, and other financial instruments and creating a fund of funds. The society will start its operations in the 2023 second quarter.
The main lesson learnt was connected with the need of having at disposal a body with a clear mandate, technical expertise, and lean procedures to be able to pilot new tools and ensure iterative improvements on the public portfolio.