On 15 November 2018 the prize-giving ceremony of the Open Innovative PMI Award was held in Rome. The initiative was devised by Bernoni Grant Thornton and is aimed at rewarding Italian innovative SMEs. The 2nd edition of the Observatory on Innovative SMEs Report by Bernoni Grant Thornton in collaboration with the University of Pisa - analysing the situation of Italian innovative SMEs, was also presented during the event.
The award and the Observatory are part of a wider project aimed an analysing and supporting this specific type of businesses, typical of the Italian entrepreneurial fabric, but still little known. The initiative was promoted in order to support innovative SMEs, inform about the tax, corporate and financial incentives provided in the regulation currently in force and help them grow.
The applications received for the 2nd edition of the award have been evaluated by an independent panel of experts, including Massimo Miani (Chairman of the National Board of Chartered Accountants), Barbara Angelini (CNR, the National Research Council), Giulio Greco (University of Pisa), Marco Cerù (Chairman of the Centre-South section of ANDAF, the Italian Association of CFOs) and Paolo Poletti (Chairman of Securitalia Security Solutions).
The winners of the second edition are:
for the Technology&Research category: EntsorgaFin S.p.A.
Tortona (AL, Piedmont) The Entsorga group devises high-tech, low environmental impact solutions to turn waste into new resources. Created twenty years ago, Entsorga has always focused on research and development to create innovative waste management solutions and operates as an incubator of projects and ideas to increase efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Turnover: 2.9 M (2016), 7.9 M (2017); Employees: 11 (47% with a university degree); turnover invested in R&D: 3%.
for the 10+ Years category: Delta S.r.l.
Montecassiano (MC, Marche) Part of the Plados-Delta Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of kitchen sinks in composite materials, the company sells its products with the Telma brand. In 2013 it installed a new automated manufacturing plant allowing to manufacture raw materials for other applications (sinks, bathtubs, shower trays, etc.). In its technology lab operate both internal professionals with a high specialisation in chemistry and external ones, coordinated by local Universities, also taking part in EU-sponsored research projects. In 2014 the company undertook a major internationalisation process. Turnover: 10.9 M (2016), 11.7 M (2017); Employees: 67; Turnover invested in R&D: 3%.
for the Young Players category: Energy Way S.r.l.
Modena (MO, Emilia Romagna) Energy Way is a data science company including a team of mathematicians, engineers and artificial intelligence experts with PhDs in international universities and ranking in innovation magazines. Established 4 years ago in Modena by a young entrepreneur, Fabio Ferrari, it now has a team with over twenty under 30 professionals. The company devises innovative mathematical models aimed at improving business efficiency and sustainability and collaborates with partner like Google and IBM, with access to their specialised libraries. Turnover: 890 K (2016), 1.5 M (2017); Employees: 13 plus 20 data scientists and AI experts; Turnover invested in R&D: 3%.
The three winners, which stand out for their ability to innovate, to attain economic results both in Italy and abroad and to adopt winning business models, further to the formal award, will also receive professional assistance from Bernoni Grant Thornton, to keep them growing on the market and find - if necessary - new investors.
During the event, Prof. Giulio Greco presented the 2018 edition of the Observatory on Innovative SMEs Report, which analyses the demographic, economical, assets, organisational and strategic dynamics of innovative SMEs. These include 877 companies at 24 September 2018 (+35% compared to 30 September 2017).
While the 2017 report aimed at providing a first overview of the sector, the 2018 edition identifies its growth trends, analysing the 230 new SMEs included in the dedicated register. In 2017, 79% of SMEs were limited liability companies (s.r.l.), most operating in the services industry; 59% of them had a production value lower than 1 million Euro and only 7.6% exceeded 10 million. Moreover, 88% of businesses invested over 3% of their turnover in innovation.
This scenario was confirmed in 2018, as concerns specifically the composition and geographical distribution of SMEs, although their economics show a few concerns.
65% of the 230 businesses enrolled in the innovative SMEs register between 1 December 2017 and 30 September 2018 operate in the services industry and 25% have a turnover lower than 250,000 Euro. The report thus shows a slow growth, which contrasts with the innovative nature of these businesses.
Alessandro Dragonetti, commented: “The second edition of the Observatory on Innovative SMEs Report shows that four years after the introduction of the incentives, the number of businesses enrolled in the dedicated register still hasn’t reached 1,000 and in first nine months of 2018 the number of applications is lower than in 2017. This could be due to an insufficient knowledge of the benefits available when enrolling in the register.
In order to foster and support this type of business it is necessary to facilitate the entrance of institutional investors, which can bring stability and managerial expertise, but also introduce a streamlined patent box and encourage the employment of women/young people, with a labour regulation specific for SMEs.”