Doing business with idea incubators and startups


The incubators of ideas are Renaissance shops in a modern key, active and dynamic environments where it is possible to test an idea that has previously passed a pre-selection: if it works and if it has the chance to become something more than a test, it can have start (in English startup ) a business, an entrepreneurial activity. Incubators are therefore opportunities for both talented young people and investors. In these pages, through three examples we tell about as many types of incubators: private (as H-Farm, in Veneto), public (as PolitHub, of the Politecnico di Milano Foundation) and mixed private / public (as TechPeaks, in Trento). Here's what they are and how they work.
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Entrepreneurs and the labor market are in crisis, but there are those who manage to emerge with an evergreen recipe: ideas, expertise and "flair": "We need vision and entrepreneurial skills", says Riccardo Donadon, founder and CEO of H- Farm, an incubator that has collected many successful projects. A few kilometers from the airport of Venice, Donadon has restored some rustics in the open and put his creation in it: «I founded H-Farm after selling E-tree, the web company that made" business "portals and that it has become one of the Italian cases of the "new economy". Given the company, my goal was to give a chance to those with innovative ideas and a desire to take risks ".

Ideas for evolution. Today thousands of proposals arrive at H-Farm: the company chooses 10 every six months. Once a project has been chosen, its creators can do it as a guest for three months and with a budget of 70, 000 euros, partly in cash and partly in services. The result is finally presented to potential entrepreneurs and investors.
"We can be among the interested entrepreneurs and investors, " continues Donadon. «Since we were born 47 startups have been launched from" incubated "projects here. Among these, some have achieved excellent results. For example H-Art, an innovation agency, that is a web-agency that works for every type of digital tool available today, and here we are talking about e-commerce - e-commerce showcases aimed at individuals - as well as b2b, business to business, ie business-oriented products and services. "
The criteria for choosing ideas to incubate are many and varied, "but for us", concludes Donadon, "must first of all be an idea capable of innovating something on the web. Like Moku, which allows students to collect and share documents. Or as a Digital Academy, which makes educational products for children. Like the Contabosco app by Focus … ».

The business accelerator of the Polytechnic Foundation, one of the first university incubators in Europe, wants to become the reference in Italy of technological startups (bioengineering, "green" technologies, design …). "Compared to the 2003 objectives, when PoliHub was born, this year we have also opened up to ideas that can become products", explains Matteo Bogana, director of the Polytechnic Foundation. Like Ginko, who is both a 100% recyclable umbrella and a PoliHub startup in the field of design: «She was among the finalists of the James Dyson International Award. The winning idea of ​​Ginko is really simple: considering that at least 900, 000, 000 umbrellas are lost or broken each year, how much can a model be completely recyclable? "
The results of PoliHub are remarkable: 75 companies incubated in 10 years, 600 jobs and over 80% of the companies created are still active. Over the past two years, it has raised investments of 4 million euros: «For young people who get involved in sectors as specialized as the ones we follow, entering the market and surviving is not easy. Therefore we keep startups "protected" up to three years, to consolidate the company after the idea ".

In Trento there has been talk for some time of a new Silicon Valley born around TechPeaks, an accelerator that "welcomes" both those who have already made projects and people with ideas to be developed in the field of information technology at an international level. "The incubators take care of an operation for periods ranging from 3 months to 3 years. We deal with it for six years, "explains Paolo Lombardi, who has been at the head of the facility financed by the Province of Trento for a year to promote employment in the area. "We are a strange example of an accelerator, for two reasons: because we also" accelerate "people and because we operate in an international environment. Here, in fact, not only small companies with a valid idea arrive, but also individuals who have an idea but do not have a team, as well as others without even a business idea but who make their skills available. "
"In our first six months of life", continues Lombardi, "about 70 young entrepreneurs arrived, of which 50 are non-Italians, after we examined 619 candidates from all over the world: we received applications from 53 different countries. At the top is Italy, then Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the United Kingdom. The participants in the call for tenders, released in January 2013, were of all ages, from nineteen-year-old graduates to fifty-year-olds. "
"The selected persons stay in the province for six months, during which they receive food, lodging, five hundred euros per month of expense reimbursement and ad hoc training courses - for example marketing lessons, market analysis, customer and investor management. Those who already have the project study how to put it on the market, those who have only the idea, in the "Laboratory of ideas" will transform it into a project. "After the first six months there is a search for financiers:" In December we will have a demo- day dedicated to potential investors, with the aim that all this remains in Trentino because startups become new jobs and new research fronts. For every euro of private financing, TechPeaks will finance the same amount up to a maximum limit of two hundred thousand euros ". concludes Lombardi. The TechPeaks philosophy is simple: to give birth to ideas to finance and to grow in the region, with direct and indirect effects on the territory in terms of work, research and development. The next call is scheduled for October 15 …