On 4 October 2012 we told ourselves that our future passed from innovation, from digital everywhere and even from startups and we approved the Growth 2.0 decree in the council of ministers. The government was chaired by Mario Monti, the minister of reference was that of Economic Development Corrado Passera, the former banker who six months earlier had set up a task force to identify what measures to take to make Italy a country for startuppers. It was an anomalous and yet brilliant procedure: putting together a small group of experts of recognized competence (remember them: Paolo Barberis; Selene Biffi; Giorgio Carcano; Annibale D’Elia; Luca De Biase; Andrea Di Camillo; Riccardo Donadon; Mario Mariani; Massimiliano Magrini ; Enrico Pozzi; Giuseppe Ragusa and Donatella Solda-Kutzmann) and under the guidance of his adviser Alessandro Fusacchia, draw up a document with the things to do to close the gap between Italy and other countries. On September 24th an “action plan” came out, with a brilliant layout instead of the usual ministerial style, and a bold title: “Restart Italia!”. In some photos you can see Prime Minister Monti leafing through it intrigued as if it were a message from aliens. In summary, the message was: “Italy will restart from startups”. And actually that for startups was a beginning, the beginning of a very slow journey, however, as documented by the research that SWG presented for the Italian Tech Week a few days ago on how things have gone in these nine years.
But that decree wasn’t just about startups, it contained a lot of important measures. Twenty, to be precise. I know this because that day Il Post, with its usual “well explained” style, had listed them briefly. I report them one by one to give you the opportunity to find out how many have been achieved, how many have proved effective, how many have been disregarded and how many have generated rather an equal and opposite action.
1. “The principles of the European Digital Agenda have been introduced into our legal system, an initiative of the Union that has long been aimed at encouraging technological innovation as a tool for relaunching growth and development”. (In the last ranking we were 25th out of 28 countries, I would say that introducing the principles was not enough).
2. “A single electronic document can replace the identity card and health card, it will be used to access the services of the Public Administration (PA)”. (electronic identity card and health card are still two separate documents and are not used to access the services of the PA, that is done with SPID).
3. “The indices of the national registry and of those residing abroad will be replaced by a single data management center which will be called the National Registry of the Resident Population”. (The list of municipalities that took over the ANPR is almost complete, about a hundred out of almost eight thousand are missing: it took us a long time but the goal was achieved).
4. “From 2013 each of us will be able to choose to communicate with the PA only with a certified e-mail address, which will become their” digital home “and will be included in the new Registry”. (The PEC works, it is not yet widespread as it should but it exists; on the digital home there is still some way to go).
5. “Data and information of the PA will be published in an open format (” open data “), to allow their use in various databases and to have more transparency”. (Take the ItaliaDomani site, the site for monitoring the National Recovery and Resilience Plan: data in closed format and copyright everywhere: a scandal).
6. “Public transport will have to promote the use of electronic tickets, reducing the costs for issuing classic paper tickets. The computerization must also concern the monitoring and traffic information activities “. (E-tickets for metro and buses are increasingly popular).
7. “The purchases of the PA will be carried out only electronically, the same will be obliged to communicate with its offices and with citizens online”. (on the occasion of the pandemic there was a massive acceleration and, the Green Pass proves it, now the PA is able to communicate online promptly).
8. From the 2013-2014 academic year, universities will have the student’s electronic file, to manage the university career of each student in digital format. (Here we are, right?)
9. “From the 2013-2014 school year, in schools it will be possible to adopt textbooks exclusively in digital version, or with supporting paper versions”. (Go in front of any school, even elementary and middle school, and look at the boys, sometimes the children who drag monstrous backpacks… no comment).
10. “The activation of the so-called“ electronic health record ”(FSE) begins, which will contain all the data in digital format of the patients, collecting their entire clinical history. Public and private health facilities will have to adopt the new system, gradually abandoning the classic one with paper records “. (Activation begins but it is never finished. Political Scoreboard in a very long post explained why it is a missed opportunity, which we have promised to keep with the money from the PNRR).
11. “On the issue of the digital divide, the government is committed to zeroing it out by bringing connections to at least 2 mbps in areas not yet covered. In addition to the 600 million euros already allocated in this area for the south, 150 million are added to the center-north. Simplifications are envisaged to favor the spread of ultra-broadband, even without wires ”. (On the broadband front, the gap has actually been closed almost everywhere, but in the meantime the game moved to ultra-broadband, and here the delay was reproduced as it is. We need a click).
12. “The PA must also accept payments in electronic format, regardless of the amounts”. (There is an ad hoc company, PagoPA, which works like a wonder).
13. “Starting from 2014, for those who sell and supply goods / services there will be obligations (of different types depending on the case) for the use of electronic payments”. (We have tried them all, even the state cashback: electronic payments are more widespread then but we are far from all the most advanced countries in the world).
14. “All communications of civil trials must be made electronically, if the subjects involved are in possession of a PEC address”. (Ok, ok).
15. “Always with the PEC it will be possible to carry out the main communications related to bankruptcy procedures”. (Ok)
16. “To encourage the construction of new infrastructures, a tax credit was introduced as a public contribution to carry out strategic works and with costs exceeding 500 million euros. The credit may go up to a maximum limit of 50 percent from IRES and IRAP ”. (I have no data to verify the impact of this indicator, if you have any, write to me)
17. Startups (innovative companies in the start-up phase) will have incentives and funds for 200 million euros available. The economic commitment will then be 110 million euros each year. Individuals will be able to invest in startups by obtaining deductions on their taxable income. (let’s face it with hindsight – for some it was the same as before: fresh water, change. Venture capital is the main weak point of the ecosisema and until the recent launch of the CDP National Innovation Fund the impact was very modest).
18. “Specific definitions and references to startups have been introduced for the first time in our legal system. They will have a special section in the Business Register, so as to make the system of public incentives even more transparent ”. (The Register is there, it is updated, but it is enough to consult it to verify that a very high number of registered companies are not startups, but digital consulting companies).
19. “The startups will be able to start subordinate employment relationships with high operational flexibility, in their start-up phase, with fixed-term employment contracts with variable duration between 6 and 36 months. After the maximum period of 48 months the employment relationship becomes indefinite “. (Recently it has been recognized at European level that the set of measures launched in Italy actually favor the birth of startups; but the problem is that they do not grow).
20. “Awareness campaigns will be launched on the opportunities offered for startups and the Minister of Economic Development will have to present a report on the progress of the initiative every year”. (The government’s driving force on startups has run out within a few years, and some governments. In the PNRR, small change is reserved for startups, the focus is on the digital and ecological transformation of large companies).