Ict, Encouraging economic performance for innovative startups and SMEs in the sector

Anitec-Assinform-Infocamere analysis

The fruitful collaboration continues between Anitec-Assinform, the Confindustria Association that groups together the main ict companies and InfoCamere, the company of the Italian Chambers of Commerce for digital innovation, which today presented the second edition of the monitoring analysis dedicated to the economic performance of startups and innovative SMEs in the ict sector.

Through the research, ‘Startups and innovative SMEs ict: economic performance’, focused on the economic and financial performance of startups and innovative SMEs in the ICT sector, Anitec-Assinform and InfoCamere want to offer an objective and continuous reference for monitoring this segment that a lot already contributes and will contribute to the growth of the ict sector and to the innovation of the economic system as a whole ..

The report presents data updated at the beginning of October 2021 for data relating to startups and innovative ict SMEs, to the fourth quarter of 2020 for data relating to employees, and to the period 2018-2020 for annual financial statements.

Population growth continues into 2021

Despite the crisis triggered by Covid-19, at the beginning of October 2021 the number of startups e innovative smes ict registered in the special section of the Business Register pursuant to Law Decree 179/2012, it continued to grow reaching 7,749 (+ 16.3% compared to 6,663 at the end of February 2021) for a constant share of 49% of the total startups and innovative smes. All this demonstrates their high resilience and adaptation capacity which have as strengths a great aptitude for digital and smart working, high speed and flexibility in adapting to sudden changes in the market and an excellent level of technical and IT skills. Compared to the lines of activity, slightly more positive dynamics are observed for startups and innovative SMEs in the fields of ia, blockchain, cybersecurity, digital solutions.

The economic and financial performance shows encouraging signs

Overall, the 4,537 innovative ict startups and SMEs with deposited financial statements produced goods and services for a total of 1.2 billion euros in 2020, against a total of 1.5 billion euros of the 4,863 innovative non-ict startups and SMEs. The average production value for startups and innovative ict SMEs in 2020 was equal to 263.3 thousand euros (compared to 310.6 thousand euros for startups and non-ict SMEs), but with higher average values ​​(probably thanks to the greater attractiveness of markets) in the 4.0 area (300.5 thousand euros), unspecified ict (299.8 thousand euros), other digital technologies (293.3 thousand euros) and digital enabler (279.4 thousand euros).

The productivity indicators confirm that the search for competitive advantage in highly innovative and technologically advanced markets translates into higher levels of productivity, with higher averages in the business lines 4.0 and other digital technologies, even if overall they remain lower than the average and median of innovative startups and SMEs in the non-ict sectors, probably due to longer access times to innovative high-tech markets or also due to the presence of a greater share of innovative startups in the embryonic stage of development. As in the overall ict sector, the growth dynamics of the production of startups and ict SMEs are only partially held back by the economic crisis associated with the lockdown.

Profitability indicators: more added value but less initial remuneration in the ICT sector

Overall in 2020 for every euro of production, SMEs and innovative ict startups generated 33.8 cents of added value against 22.2 cents in the non-ict segment, confirming the greater increase in value generated by the activities developed by companies specialized in advanced technology markets. However, also due to higher costs per employee, profitability indicators are less profitable in the ict sector than in the non-ict sector at least in the first years of startups and innovative SMEs. The higher incidence of loss levels compared to the non-ict segments confirms the physiological need for longer market access times for innovative ict startups and SMEs, especially in the lines of business related to digital.

The 4,537 innovative ict startups and SMEs with deposited 2020 financial statements generated added value of 406 million euros, a value higher than the 332.8 million of the non-ict segment.

The same differences, but even more marked, occur in terms of value added per employee (21.8 thousand euros on average and 17.7 thousand euros in median in the ict segment against 11.2 thousand euros on average and 14.6 thousand euros euro median in the non ict segment), confirming the high level of knowledge and skills applied in the ict segment. the results of the innovative ict startups and SMEs with a total value of 18 million euro mol are clearly more positive than the non-ICT ones which recorded a negative mol of -27.8 million euro. a substantial parity of results and self-financing capacity between the ict and non-ict sectors can also be seen in the mol in relation to the value of revenues.

Profit companies in 2020 generate 43.4% of production in the ict sector against 47.6% in the non ict sector. Turning to the profitability of the shareholders’ equity or the economic return on the investment made by the shareholders of the company, at least 50% of the startups and innovative ict SMEs recorded a value equal to or greater than 1.1% in the last three years.

Financial indicators: financial sustainability improves with years of activity

The financial indicators – from those of financial equilibrium to those of asset rotation to those on the potential of resources to generate value over a period of several years – confirm that the apparent initial financial imbalance of many startups and innovative ict SMEs is actually offset by the consolidation of the activities subsequent to the initial phase and the emergence of important growth trends in the evaluation of the actual potential in the medium-long term. Innovative ICT startups and SMEs recorded a median current liquidity index of 1.6 (1.4 in the non-ict segment) and an average of 9.4 (17.5 in the non-ict segment). The ratio between debts (or third-party assets) and equity of startups and innovative ict SMEs records a median value of 0.8 (1.0 non-ict sector) or just above the limit equilibrium levels, also confirmed over time for companies with financial statements filed in the period 2018-2020. The median revenue per investment unit in innovative ict startups and SMEs is 0.3 against 0.2 in the non-ict sector compared to an average of 0.6 for ict and 0.5 for non-ict, respectively.

A second distinctive feature of startups and innovative SMEs is the high value of intangible assets (especially patents, trademarks, goodwill) that participate in achieving the company’s competitive advantage. the median index is in fact equal to 1 at startups and innovative ict SMEs (0.8 non-ict) and the average index is equal to 0.7 (0.6 non-ict).

According to Marco Gay, president of Anitec-Assinform, “The data we showed today with Infocamere demonstrate the vitality of the segment of startups and innovative ict SMEs despite the pandemic crisis. These companies are confirmed as a lever of innovation for each production sector, thanks to the extreme flexibility, the natural propensity to risk, the concentration of talents and skills, the ability to operate in the field of technologies with multiple growth prospects such as digital enablers. Start-ups and innovative SMEs can move digital transformation both in the ict sector, exploring new frontiers of digital innovation, and in traditional production sectors where new energies and new skills need to be grafted. The forge of talents enjoyed by Italy and in particular of motivated and prepared young people is certainly a strength that we must enhance with determination.

Certainly, the NRP will provide an important contribution to the growth of this business segment, which it also entrusts with a leading role in the implementation of mission 1 relating to the digitization of public administration and businesses. In fact, involving start-ups and innovative SMEs in large NRP projects allows to activate a virtuous mechanism with a view to developing the venture capital market and supporting the inflow of risk capital. Today, thanks to the various measures adopted in 2020 with the Relaunch decree, the proactive role of Cdp’s innovation fund has been given a decisive boost to the sector, which we must support with a decisive commitment in reducing bureaucratic burdens and creating a venture market. dynamic capital that allows our ict entrepreneurs to grow and innovate “.

For Paolo Ghezzi, General Manager of InfoCamere “In the general framework of recovery of the Italian economy, the eco-system of startups and innovative SMEs is confirmed as a vital organism, capable of seizing the many opportunities offered by the push towards digital that our society is experiencing. Thanks to data from Register of Companies, we are able to follow their performances, behaviors and choices closely and more accurately in order to facilitate their knowledge by public decision makers and market operators, thus favoring their development possibilities. data analysis of complex and rapidly evolving phenomena, such as that of innovative entrepreneurship, is increasingly central to intercepting needs and critical issues and consequently carrying out actions increasingly capable of facilitating the spread of technological innovation in our country “.