Between 13th and 15th January, Friuli Innovazione hosted the fifth Exchange of Experience of Innova-FI project in Udine, Italy. The event was a remarkable mix of presentations and workshops on the topic ‘Highly Innovative ways of financing’.

Our first day at Casa della Contadinanza included a packed agenda illustrating the features, good practices and trends in the public and private financial landscape of the FVG region targeting companies and some of the main elements of the Italian national framework. The day kicked off with a detailed introduction from the Managing Director of Friuli Innovazione and the Councillor for Culture and Tourism of Udine. Next on the agenda was Mr Alessandro Da Re, Management Committee Chair of Fondo di Rotazione per Iniziative Economiche (FRIE), the main regional instrument of subsidized loans. His presentation introduced to the diverse stakeholders, FVG's oldest (65 years) and most forward-looking financial instrument - the FRIE. The session was followed by experts from Confidimprese FVG, FVG Region Special Section Central Guarantee Fund and MedioCredito Centrale addressing the topic of Guarantee instruments.

Before breaking for lunch, the group was entitled to a guided tour to Udine Castle, more specifically to the Salone del Parlamento. The hall of the Friulian Parliament is for sure a majestic room for its large size and sumptuous decoration.

The afternoon opened with the topic ‘Innovative Financial Instruments in Private Market’. On this session, the investor Carlo Asquini presented the largest Italian business angel network - Italian Angels for Growth - highlighting that the improvement of the annual deal-flow funnel in Italy, as in the rest of Europe, necessarily requires not just funding, but rather the development of a complete and sustainable startup ecosystem

The first day ended with a session on the regional players in the equity market from spokespersons of Friulia and Finest and a forum on the overall national landscape with representatives of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (a financial institution controlled by the Italian Ministry for Finances) and Invitalia, the National Agency for Inward Investment and Economic Development, owned by the Italian Ministry of Economy.

The following day, Innova-FI and the international delegation (stakeholders) visited the Science and Technology Park “Luigi Danieli” - home of Friuli Innovazione. Opening with the keynote speech of Ms Barbara Zilli, Councillor for Finances of FVG Region, the day was also the international exposé of the new Guarantee Fund for Investment in Venture Capital of FVG region. Director of the business credit service, Diego Angelini, clarified this innovative FI targeting SMEs ensures investments from institutional investors and business angels in case of default. Taking in consideration the risk aversion felt in the region and the number of small enterprises, this Guarantee Fund is the proverbial solution, intending to cover part of the risk in order to stimulate financial operators' investments in start-ups located in Friuli Venezia Giulia, seeing it will cover up to 80% of the investment without commission costs.

Innova-FI carried on its learning journey with ICOP Group business case, a high-tech engineering firm from FVG region using minibonds. Afterwards, professor Paolo Fedele from the Economics and Statistic Department of the University of Udine offered the academic perspective on how innovation in finance can be manifested in the modern world. The morning was not complete without a guided visit. This time to a shared open space for collaboration, the Additive FVG Square laboratory. Additive FVG is an initiative launched by Friuli Innovazione in 2018 in collaboration with 5 regional firms, the engineering regional cluster COMET and the support of the regional government in a sort of public-private-partnership experiment. The aim is supporting companies in the adoption of advanced production technologies based on 3d printing, and thus stimulating innovation in business models of traditional manufacturing industries, improving skills and promoting investments for new startups.

The afternoon of the second day was dedicated to the workshop “What is innovation in Financial Instruments?” facilitated by Lorenzo Palego and Nicola Brignani from T33. Innova-FI partners and stakeholders were encouraged to design and set up a financial instrument to support innovative SMEs /start-ups and creative industries, following the steps of the 2021-27 ex-ante assessment. 

Overall, the Exchange of Experience 05 managed to meet its two primary goals, i.e. presenting the case study of Friuli Venezia Giulia Autonomous Region and delivering a “hands-on” day to learn and design innovative financial instruments to support innovative SMEs. More information on the fifth Exchange of Experience can be viewed in the video “Get up to Speed – The 5th EoE of Innova-FI” and in our library section.