From Silicon Valley to Italy: CheBanca!, MEDICI and StartupItalia to Boost the Italian FinTech Ecosystem

In a quest of defining and shaping the global FinTech ecosystem, the LTP team can't overlook Italy – one of the most interesting and growing markets of innovative technology. Having developed partnerships with FinTech leaders around the world, we are taking steps towards shedding light on the Italian startup ecosystem through MEDICI, the only FinTech-specific market network that helps startups gain premium visibility and contextual exposure in front of investors, accelerators and financial institutions.

The Italian ecosystem has its own assets and challenges, and in collaboration with the industry leaders CheBanca! and StartupItalia, MEDICI will be revealing the opportunities Italian ecosystem presents. Moreover, in the following MEDICI Top 21 Awards, the LTP team will be paying special attention to the Italian startup ecosystem to reveal the A players offering the most innovative solution in the local market.

With regard to the established partnership, Nicolò Petrone who will be managing MEDICI operations in Europe, said, I strongly believe that the Italian startup ecosystem has tremendous unexpressed potential. For this reason, we are expanding our operations in Italy where we will be able to follow with greater attention the evolution and the peculiarities of the Italian market.

Petrone also specifies that MEDICI will be working with CheBanca! and StartupItalia to boost the Italian FinTech ecosystem in three ways:

  1. Create a bridge to connect Italian FinTech startups with worldwide FinTech VCs, angels, financial institutions and FinTech-focused accelerators.
  2. Run MEDICI Top 21 award series for each of the 34 verticals in FinTech. In order to achieve this, we will have a panel of rockstar local judges that will be evaluating startups every three weeks.
  3. Dramatically increase the visibility and exposure of the Italian FinTech startups in front of LTP audience of 70,000 FinTech professionals worldwide.

Matteo Rossanigo, Upstream Project Manager at CheBanca!, shared insights on the hallmark of the Italian startup ecosystem with the LTP team, describing the assets and challenges as well as examples of interesting players offering their solutions.

The main challenges in the Italian startup scene:

In the past few years, I met a lot of actors from the Italian startup scene and we happened to think about the obstacles and what matters the most. Our main suspects?

  • An undercapitalized sector, poor culture in funding and tools to foster it.
  • Our system is historically based on debt, rather than equity. So, little investment and small market.

However, this year, we're seeing a new rising trend. We’re starting to see the effects of ‘Investment Compact’ (March 2015 law) for ‘innovative companies’ – a status, which allows access to a good range of new features, such as remunerating employees in equity (we couldn't do that before).

In addition, data from public and venture funding suggests that in the first semester of 2016, Italian startups have raised three times more compared to the same period in 2015. And now, we also have a new law in discussion called ‘Finanza per la crescita’ to foster funding and investment through a range of incentives, including tax incentives for startup investors.

Startup investments: January–June 2016

Source: StartupItalia

We are still far from a level that triggers positive network effects, gathering international deals, letting Italy be seen as a potential market for startup acquisition – a better return for the entire ecosystem.

Entrepreneurship is at the heart of Italian culture and economy

One of the main assets of the Italian startup landscape is the talent behind it. Entrepreneurship is at the heart of Italian culture and economy. There is a vast array of examples defining the Italian FinTech startup ecosystem.

Among the most interesting one is Deus Technology, a FinTech startup which is the first in EU to build a robo-advisory platform; it continues to produce innovation with the latest technology available. Modefinance is a big data startup which became a rating agency for the EU. Sardex, a B2B credit circuit, was born in Sardinia in 2010 and now has a transaction forecast of 82M€. Based on its success, the firm chose to open circuits in 10+ other regions of Italy. The company just closed a round of 3M€.

Lots of successful Italian startups were forced to emigrate in other countries, such as MoneyFarm in the UK. We have the ideas, the skill and the mindset, but we lack the infrastructure and investments.

The collaboration of CheBanca!, MEDICI and StartupItalia as a digital bridge to foster the growth of the Italian startup ecosystem

Our goal for this cooperation is to create a digital bridge for Italian FinTech startups, to give them the visibility they deserve. And MEDICI can be the answer we were looking for.

CheBanca! is recognized as one of the most innovative EU banks (we have just won the EFMA Innovation of the month with our robo-advisory service). It applies the principles of open innovation, working and partnering with FinTech startups to provide its customers new and innovative services. We firmly believe that making the good of the financial ecosystem is a benefit for all. Our brand can drive the public directly into the spotlight they deserve.

Since we talk about startups and Italy, we cannot think of any other partner better than StartupItalia!, the greatest influencer of the Italian scene. Smartmoney, a focused FinTech blog, is by far the best source of information on what's happening in the Italian FinTech scene. As we often say, "Everyday, a FinTech startupper wakes up and opens a Smartmoney page."

How MEDICI can contribute to the development of Italian FinTech

MEDICI is a network focused on FinTech. It's the spotlight any startup is looking for as the portal gives something more than others – it directly gives you the ‘voice’ of the founders and people working in the first line. Not only press information, but real insights and the thoughts of people who struggle in the "gemba" (six sigma cit.). It gives visibility and exposure to every stakeholder you can image in the FinTech sector, such as VCs, Financial Institutions and global accelerators – all in more than 56 countries.

I'm very excited to be part of this. I have a saying, "The more I see the less I know." I think it's a perfect fit to describe my feelings towards the possibility that will unlock thanks to the 17 ongoing competitions MEDICI will launch soon as I'll be part of the Judging panel. It is an opportunity to see Italian startups competing on equal terms among other FinTech from all over the world from the front row.