Group 13

In June 2020, the Ministry of Economic Development, as part of the Impresa 4.0 Plan, included incentives of EUR 100 million for technological and digital transformation projects of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the Growth Decree.

In October, the implementing decree for the digital transformation call for proposals was published, detailing the selection criteria and the submission of applications, which can be submitted from 15 December and will continue to be considered until the available funds are exhausted.

The ministry’s objective is to facilitate the digital transformation process in certain sectors, helping innovative start-ups and small and medium-sized Italian companies to be more competitive on the market, optimising growth and development.

Applications will be assessed by Invitalia, while resources will be managed by the National Innovation Fund. Companies will be able to participate in aggregate form, and there is also the possibility of co-financing projects under the 2014-2020 PON Imprese e Competitività.

Let’s analyse the proposal of the digital transformation call for SMEs in detail

What is the digital transformation call and who is it aimed at

The call for applications was created to incentivise the technological transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises through the advanced technologies envisaged under the Impresa 4.0 Plan and other technologies related to the technological and digital transformation of the supply chain.

SMEs eligible to apply must operate primarily or predominantly in the following specific sectors:

– Manufacturing sector or direct services to manufacturing enterprises
– Tourism sector for companies involved in the use of cultural heritage through digital systems
– Trade sector

Applications will be assessed by Invitalia and Infratel, which will take into consideration basic criteria including:

– The patrimonial and economic soundness of the beneficiaries
– The quality of the project according to the objectives of the decree
– The project costs
– The definition of parameters related to project implementation

The subsidies granted through the Digital Transformation Call for Proposals are calculated on a nominal basis of the project’s eligible costs and expenses of 50% as follows

– 10% contribution
– 40% subsidised financing

The beneficiary of the subsidised loan is obliged to repay it starting from the last instalment received, without the addition of interest, according to a plan of six-monthly instalments within a maximum period of seven years.

The beneficiary may request, also by way of an advance, that the first instalment equal to 50% of the incentivised sum be disbursed within 12 months from the date of grant. The remaining amount may be requested within 60 days from the date of completion of the project, attaching a final technical report, and will be paid out within 90 days of the request.

Small and medium-sized enterprises that meet the following requirements on the day they submit their application are eligible to apply:

– They are registered as active in the Companies Register
– They must have a turnover of at least EUR 100,000 in their last deposited balance sheet
– They must have approved and filed at least two balance sheets with the Commercial Register

SMEs that are subject to:

– State of bankruptcy
– Bankruptcy proceedings
– Liquidation, even if voluntary
– Arrangement with creditors
– receivership

It is also possible to participate in the call through joint projects, not exceeding the limit of 10 companies involved. In this case, projects implemented using instruments such as consortia, network contracts and partnership agreements must have a digital innovation hub (DHI) or a digital innovation ecosystem (EDI) as the lead promoter

What the transformation announcement finances

The projects involved, from small and medium-sized enterprises operating in Italy, must have an expenditure amount between EUR 50,000 and EUR 500,000, and projects that were started prior to the call for proposals will be excluded.

The maximum duration of the projects will be 18 months from the date the subsidies are granted; however, it will be possible to request, giving reasons, an extension of a maximum of six months from the Ministry of Economic Development.

The Digital Transformation Call for Proposals is intended for all projects that aim to digitally and technologically transform production processes, and thus provide for investments in process activities and organisational innovation.

Among the technologies that can be subsidised, for example, is RFID (radio-frequency identification), an automatic recognition system, which therefore does not require human intervention, increasingly used in logistics or asset management.

An RFID system consists of a tag or transponder, a reader and a data management information system. Using radio frequencies, electronic tags (tags) are able to store and transmit information, even remotely, to the reader (reader) which, via an antenna, communicates it to the computer system to which it is connected, which updates it.

Furthermore, RFID tags, unlike the others, can be invisible because radio waves are able to pass through many materials such as paint or wood, so the tag can also be affixed to packaging material such as boxes or pallets, without risking damage.

Eligible projects include those that aim to increase the production process through the implementation of enabling technologies identified by the Impresa 4.0 National Plan, including:

– Augmented reality
– Simulation
– Advanced manufacturing solutions
– Horizontal and vertical integration
– Additive manufacturing
– The cloud
– Industrial internet
– Big data and analytics
– Cybersecurity

Eligible projects are also those that aim to increase the production process through technologies related to technological and digital supply chain solutions:

– To software
– To applications and digital platforms used for the management and co-ordination of logistics with high service integration features
– To optimise the management of relations with different actors and the supply chain

Also included among supply chain technology solutions are those aimed at other technologies including:

– The blockchain
– Artificial intelligence
– E-commerce systems
– Geolocalisation
– Internet and mobile payment systems
– Internet of things
– RFID technology
– Fintech
– Electronic Data Interchange Systems (EDI)
– System integration applied to process automation
– Technologies for the in-store customer experience

How to apply

Applications can be submitted from 12 noon on 15 December 2020 through an IT procedure on the website of the Ministry of Economic Development or on the website of Invitalia, which is entrusted with the evaluation of applications that will be admitted in daily chronological order regardless of the time of submission.

Each entity participating in the call, whether single or joint, may submit only one application for access to the facilities concerning only

– A process innovation project
– An organisational innovation project
– An investment project

In order to implement the procedure it is necessary to proceed through the identification of the filer of the application who will be the legal representative of either the beneficiary or the lead applicant if the application is in aggregate form. Identification can be carried out in three ways:
– Through SPID i.e. the public digital identity system
– Through CNS i.e. the national services card
– Through Invitalia’s digital identity management system The steps to follow to correctly complete the application are as follows:

– Register with Invitalia’s online services, indicating your email address
– Access the reserved site where you can download all the documentation to be attached to the application
– Attach the required documents
– To complete the application procedure, it is necessary to have both the digital signature and the PEC (certified e-mail address) of the lawyer representing the company
– When the online procedure is completed, an electronic protocol will be assigned

Among the required documents that must be attached to the application are:

1. the declaration in lieu of affidavit certifying the possession of the requirements for access to the facilities and concerning:

– state aid declared incompatible by the European Community
– information aimed at the acquisition of anti-mafia certification
– determination of company size and attribution of legality rating
– anti-money laundering prevention rules
– balance sheet values for determining scores

2. The project sheet
3. The articles of association and memorandum of association
4.In the case of an aggregate application, the contract underlying the relationship between the parties

Applications that are eligible for subsidies will be communicated directly to the interested parties, who must then sign a contract specifying the commitments and obligations to be followed. Within the next thirty days, Invitalia will proceed with the signing of the financing contract determining the conditions for the disbursement of funds. The grant may be withdrawn if the provisions of the DD of 1 October 2020 are violated.

To recapitulate, the digital transformation call is an excellent opportunity for innovative start-ups and SMEs, which can apply, through a digital procedure on the MSE or Investitalia website, by submitting projects aimed at fostering the digital and technological transformation of production plans.