SEP identifies over 100 Italian ICT scaleups

Startup Europe Partnership presents latest SEP Monitor on Italian ICT ecosystem. SEP Matching event held at the European Maker Faire in Rome focused on the Internet of Things.
“Scaleups” are startups able to break the “early-stage barrier” to become global companies.

SEP identified over 100 Italian ICT scaleups

around 68% raised between $0.5 and 2.5 million, 7% raised more than $10 million. E-Commerce and Enterprise Services represent most of Italian ICT scaleups (16%) – Software (12%), and Mobile (10%).
The number of exits nearly quadrupled during the last 4 years – 5 IPOs and 27 acquisitions with more than half staying in Europe (41% in Italy), while 33% moved to the U.S.
Decisyon, Funambol and Gild are the fastest growing Italian scaleups following the “dual model,” scaling up backed by international investors.

Rome, October 3rd, 2014 – They comprise more than 100 companies, operating in E-commerce and Enterprise Services, and more than 30 have already reached an exit. These are the Italian ICT Scaleups — Information & Communication Technology startups that, having received relevant funding (more than $0.5M in post-seed capital, with the last round in the past three years) or generated significant revenue, are now able to break the “early-stage barrier” and are a candidate to become large global companies.

Startup Europe Partnership – the pan-European platform born in January 2014 with the aim of supporting the most promising European startups to scaleup and become global champions – has mapped them in the last SEP Monitor presented today in Rome at the SEP Matching Event (focused on Internet of Things), hosted by the European Maker Faire.

“StartUps need local role models for scaling up – to have peers to learn from and to see it is possible to go global and be real job creators,” said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission. “I am so pleased that the StartUp Europe partnership has identified in Italy over 100 scaleups in the tech sector. The same level of success is happening in Spain. These role models show that startup ecosystems are flourishing all over Europe. My message to European entrepreneurs is keep going: you are an inspiration to those around you. With your efforts the European economy can keep growing!”


  • 108 Italian ICT scaleups were identified. Almost 68% raised between $0.5 and $2.5 million dollars, 17% raised between $2.5 and $5 millions, 8% between $5 and $10 millions and 7% more than $10 millions.
  • E-Commerce and Enterprise services are the areas with the highest density of Italian ICT Scaleups (16%), followed by Software (12%) and Mobile (10%). Social, Digital Media and Adverstising segments account for the 21% of the total. The remaining 25% work in other areas.
  • 32 companies reached an exit, either having been acquired (27) or via an IPO (5). In the last 4 years this number almost quadrupled: in fact, while there were six exits between 2007 and 2010, the other 26 happened between 2011 and 2014 (50% in the first 9 months of 2014, most recently,
  • SEP Monitor showed 55% of the Italian ICT acquisition deals were accomplished by Europe-based buyers strongly represented by Italian companies (73%). 33% were completed by U.S. companies and 4% by Russia, Japan and South Africa, respectively.

SEP Monitor September 14, fig 1_2

“The data we presented today are work-in-progress,:” said Alberto Onetti, Mind the Bridge Foundation President, responsible for managing the Startup Europe Partnership. “We have worked together with the Italian startup ecosystem to provide an overview as precise as possible. We know something may be missing, but this could be even better news because it implies that the Italian scenario where we operate is even more extensive”.

Note this data does not include biotech and life science companies, areas where Italy has lately witnessed several large exits, for example EOS, the most recent and relevant one.

“Italian innovation system comes out to be very rich and vital, full of unexplored investment opportunities and supported by a pioneering regulatory framework,” said Stefano Firpo, Chief of the Italian Minister of Economic Development’s Technical Secretariat”SEP Monitor highlights encouraging findings for digital startups, and I’m sure similar results can be found for startups operating in other areas. Now it’s time to change gears and work to make these excellences a common heritage for our economy. We need a new culture about investments in startups able to focus on the new innovative companies, enhancing their contribution in technology, creativity and ability to grow.”


  • The largest acquisition with disclosed deal size was Octo Telematics by Renova Group, (2014) for 555 million dollar. Founded in 2002 in Rome, Octo Telematics develops a wide range of specialist applications for insurance and transport companies aimed at mitigating risks of fraud and optimizing fleet management. The most recent acquisition was themajority stake of, Italy’s largest car insurance broker and price comparison website, by Oakley Capital Investmentsin Sept. 2014.
  • Among the largest IPOs we find Mutuionline (2007/€200M) and YOOX (2009/€217M). In 2014 we celebrated also several IPOs such as Expert System (a semantic technology company) that raised $27M in February 2014; Triboo Media (specialist in online advertising strategy and digital publishing) that raised €24M in March 2014; and MailUp (an email marketing software company)  that raised €3M in July 2014.
  • Among the fastest growing Italian scaleups, measured in terms of capital raised, there are DecisyoniMedia ComunicazioneFunambol and Gild. These companies operate on a “dual model” of Italy-born and U.S.-grown.

“Data suggest that the so-called “dual model” is effective because it allows a company to exploit the Italian strengths, such as excellence and technical skills, overcoming some limits of our system such as little capital for growth at Series B, and low appeal of Italian regulations at the international level,” added Alberto Onetti. “Perhaps this is sub-optimal but, as discussed with the European Commission, it’s a way to make the Italian projects grow at the international level, still keeping employment and valuable activities in our country. Also other countries are adopting this solution.”

  • Decisyon, founded in 2005, based in the U.S. with technology developed in Latina (Italy), provides business intelligence and performance management software solutions and raised a total of $44.1 million.
  • iMedia Comunicazione, established in 2010, is a Milan-based wireless media placement agency operating three different lines of business in China. It received a total of $20 million from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and IDG Capital Partners.
  • Funambol, Italy-born and U.S.-grown, is a provider of white-label personal cloud solutions for mobile operators backed by more than $25 million from H.I.G Capital, Nexit VenturesCastile Ventures and Walden International. All of their R&D is based in Pavia, Italy.
  • Gild, founded three years ago, is headquartered in San Francisco with its R&D based in Milan, develops tech-hiring software that helps companies recruit skilled developers. This summer it raised $13.5 million in Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures, with the participation of other investors.


“We are witnessing a growing interest for the innovation and startup world in Europe. Even in our country it is now evident that the growth path needs a radical change in the way we produce companies,” said Luca Casaburra, Telecom Italia Corporate Venture Capital Manager. “In order to help such a fragile ecosystem hosting both Startups and Scaleups, we need corporations to act as incubators and launching platforms. This is what we have tried to do at TI since 2009, at the beginning with the WCap accelerators and now with TIM Ventures. That’s the reason why we have SEP: to share with other companies, at a European level, our determination to grow and innovate. We are very close, I think, to the first of excellent results.”