Milan, the startup center for foreign citizens

A growing number of applications compared to the previous months: it’s the result of the recently published Italia Startup Visa report. According to this report, in the second quarter of this year 37 applications have been submitted, compared to the 33 of the first quarter of 2016.


Since the beginning of the program, in 2014, 84 startups have been created and 34 of these decided to set up in Lombardia, in the north of Italy. In particular, 21 have chosen the Milan district. Sixty one startups set up in the North, whereas only four decided to stay in the South.


Why did they choose Milan? «Because it’s a fertile territory for startups», says Shota Hayashi, the founder of Genuine Education Network (GEN) to Repubblica degli Stagisti: «And because there’s a good city administration and most of our partners live here. Milan is a very flexible city, too, and here people are open minded more than in other cities». GEN was born in June 2014, «Last year we organized some workshops in Expo Milano 2015 and we started a new program for kids in Japanese in the MUBA museum. I believe» says Shota «this city is our definitive headquarter and I suggest people to join the Italia Startup Visa program, especially here in Milan».


Sharon Ezra suggests the same to startuppers: she is the founder with Eugenio Puglisi of Quattrocento Eyewear. «The Italian Startup Visa has been a wonderful experience. I think this program can really bring value as startuppers can bring value to Italy, too». Repubblica degli Stagisti wrote about Quattrocento last year, when Forbes put it in the list of “15 startups you need to know for 2015”. Sharon is an Israeli
designer and she decided, after a period of study in Milan, to launch here the startup Quattrocento. «I have been living in Milan for five years and Eugenio for nine. We both like this city, the business center in Italy. That’s why we chose to launch our startup here. It’s the fashion world capital and we work with north Italian artisans, so Milan was the best place to let this project grow».


«It’s a very international city, too, and the startup ecosystem is much more advanced here than in any other Italian city» says Sharon; she believes that it is a good program and found the people working for it really helpful, eager to solve any kind of problem.


«But there’s one really difficult thing: the Italian bureaucracy. Having a residency permit is a very slow process and it’s not easy for a foreigner to understand it».


In spite of this, 132 applications have been submitted since June 2014, when the Italian government policies to attract and retain innovative entrepreneurs from all over the world was launched. The Italia Startup Visa wants to attract the human and financial capital from all over the world simplifying the visa concession for not European freelance contractors who want to launch an innovative startup or invest in an existing one as business partners. Most of the applications came from Russia followed by the US and China.


Italia Startup Visa wants to retain innovative entrepreneurs who are already in Italy and wish to prolong their stay to establish an innovative startup. That’s why on December 2014 was launched Italia Startup Hub, too, simplifying the conversion of visa permits. But in this case only five applications have been submitted since 2014. None in 2016. 


The main focus of 2013 immigration quotas has been partially achieved; the efforts towards a simplification of the Visa process made by the Italian government should be acknowledged. The figures from the next quarter will show whether the growing trend is still confirmed.

 Marianna Lepore

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