In 2014, on the issue of innovation Intesa Sanpaolo dedicated a structure reporting directly to the Managing Director, Chief Innovation Officer, who has the task of researching and analysing innovative solutions available on the national and international markets to identify development opportunities for the Group and its customers, leveraging the departments already present in the Bank (see chapter “Innovation for growth” @). Fully aware of the high social value that innovation is able to express in terms of creating progress and shared value, the structure’s objective is to develop the technological innovation mix in favour of businesses in synergy with the relevant Group departments. Proposing the use of digital matchmaking platforms, it acts as the link between companies, bringing together the “innovation creators” and the potential users. In 2014 the Technological Opportunity Proposal initiative continued with the aim of identifying technologies for Group’s corporate customers and involved 100 customers.
Included among the activities to disseminate innovation are:
- offer of advisory services on sectors and technologies of excellence,
- support for development projects in the local areas and the local economy,
- support for start-ups with high growth potential and contribution for the Group and for the business system in general.
With regard to commercial offering, the Nova+ financing programme continued to support Italian companies investing in innovation and research. As known, Nova+ supplements the traditional creditworthiness analysis with a technical and business assessment of the investment plans, conducted by a team of engineers specialised in the various product sectors and with in-depth knowledge of technology trends. In this regard, Mediocredito Italiano continues to make use of partnerships with a number of reputable Italian universities which offer their technical and scientific support to assess the technological risk of the more complex and ambitious projects.
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In 2014, R&D lending from the Bank’s funds continued, albeit to a lesser extent than in previous years due to the negative economic situation. In addition, during the year - as envisaged in the agreements - the two loan facilities “Nova+ FNI Disegni” and “Nova+ FNI Brevetti” terminated. These facilities had supported SME model, design and patent industrialisation projects through loans included in a portfolio of transactions backed by public guarantee drawing on the Ministry of Economic Development’s National Innovation Fund.
In 2014, over 108 million euro in loans was granted for 90 initiatives, of which 20 loans totalling 5.4 million euro referring to the Disegni and Brevetti facilities. Overall, 958 projects were financed in the period 2011-2014 for a total of more than 1,300 million euro.
From 2015 a recovery in R&D investments is expected from companies that can also benefit from a significant tax credit that combines effectively with the Nova+ financing.
New sustainable enterprise
Among the initiatives worthy of mention is the “Intesa Sanpaolo StartUp Initiative”, the accelerated path for growing businesses that maps out a structured and continuous process of research, training, selection and presentation to investors of high-tech start-ups. 84 start-ups were presented to investors in the 11 events planned during the year.
Strengthening the Group’s commitment to sustainable development and innovation, in 2014 the coaching activities offered by the department involved start-ups operating in high social and environmental value sectors such as:
- Foodtech, characterised by enabling technologies for the sustainable development of the agro-food chain: 34 beneficiary start-ups, of which 15 presented to investors;
- Cleantech, the meta-sector characterised by a series of technologies designed to reduce intensive use of natural resources and to make the use of energy sources for civil and industrial purposes more efficient and sustainable: 22 beneficiary start-ups, of which 10 presented to investors;
- Biotech, characterised by technological applications enabling solutions in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries through the use of substances originating from living organisms: 10 beneficiary start-ups, of which 7 presented to investors.
- Among these is CellPly, founded in 2013 by a research team from the University of Bologna which aims to develop a technological platform capable of prediction analysis of the conduct of certain target cells of specific molecules or substances with a view to testing their efficacy prior to clinical administration. This start-up received direct investment in February 2014 from the ISP Group through Atlante Seed.
- Healthcare, a sector dedicated to looking for solutions to improve personal wellness: 10 beneficiary start-ups, of which 7 presented to investors.
Customer satisfaction of the initiative was regularly monitored to assess the perceived quality and areas for improvement, through printed questionnaires distributed to investors, observers and participating customers. For 2014, the Net Promoter Score out of 235 responses was 60%.
New social enterprise
With a view to promoting new enterprise with strong social and/or environmental significance, support was again given in 2014 to the Italian version of the Global Social Venture Competition, the international competition designed and promoted by the Berkeley-Haas School of Business and organised by Altis, the High School of Business and Society of University Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan.
A particular focus was placed on the quantitative assessment of social impact generated by the candidate enterprise initiatives, based on three fundamental criteria:
- clarity of the statement of social and/or environmental value of the social venture and identification of the three key social/environmental impact indicators;
- consistency and accuracy of the Social Returns on Investment (SROI) and related value assessment;
- innovative nature of the social venture’s approach in reference to the context it will affect.
The department’s contribution essentially involved the following activities:
- training on business plan preparation and on assessment of the social and environmental impact of the business idea in question;
- coaching on drafting the Business Plan;
- networking to facilitate access to a network of players from the universities, businesses and venture capital companies.
2014 saw the admission of 20 start-ups to the training phase, of which 9 presented to investors. The winner was Swiss Leg, the Swiss Start UP which, based in Syria, Jordan and Iraq, offers prosthetic limb solutions to victims of armed conflicts.
To develop start-up investment activities, in April 2014 an agreement was reached between the Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s Atlante Funds system and Como Venture, an investment company that promotes enterprise initiatives with a high innovation and technology content.
Atlante Ventures and Atlante Seed, the Intesa Sanpaolo Group funds dedicated to Venture Capital, invest in the venture capital of innovative businesses which, albeit still small in size, present a high growth potential, with a particular focus on activities in high-technology sectors. The agreement with Como Venture represented a major step in the Intesa Sanpaolo strategy that aims to build a strong partnership network with leading Italian and international venture incubators and accelerators. The distribution of skills and information for selecting the best start-ups, in fact, is a fundamental basis for growing successful enterprises that are sustainable in the long term.
Between Como Venture and the Atlante Ventures Funds system of Intesa Sanpaolo an initial partnership had already been finalised in February 2014. Together with New Enterprises Associates (NEA) - one of the largest and most active Venture Capital companies in the world - 1.2 million dollar was invested in the development of Hyperfair, a start-up that began in Lecco and is based in San Francisco which reinvented the way to organise web-based virtual trade fairs.