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AI, blockchain, IoT. The will-o'-the-wisp of a new MiSE funding fund

Investments in AI (Artificial Intelligence), blockchain and IoT (Internet of Things) are the recipients of a new funding fund of the MiSE (Ministry of Economic Development), so small that it was exhausted in a few hours.

The transition and technological development of domestic enterprises in strategic sectors like those in question, it needs at least two more zeros.

In any event, the sectors, beneficiaries, terms and methods of access (1,2) to this are reported missed opportunity to finance instead an extra-budgetary expenditure of € 12,5 billion in arms, by a government even more entitled to overcome the management of current assets. (1,2)

1) AI, blockchain, IoT. Targets

The bottom for the development of artificial intelligence technologies and applications, blockchain e internet of things is aimed at expanding digital innovation processes in national companies. In tune with the Transition Plan 4.0, already treated also on this site.

Funding cover:

  • research, development and innovation projects in the aforementioned three digital technologies,
  • initiatives to achieve specific technological and application objectives,
  • operational and administrative support activities aimed at generating impact in businesses, especially SMEs.

2) Sectors and regions of priority intervention

The strategic sectors priority identified for the implementation of the intervention are numerous and of particular importance for the national economy. Between these:

  • industry and manufacturing,
  • educational system,
  • agri-food,
  • health,
  • environment and infrastructure,
  • culture and tourism,
  • logistics and mobility,
  • information security and technologies,
  • aerospace.

To the regions of the South - Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily - 34% of the total funding is reserved. These resources will, if necessary, be re-allocated to projects in other regions, after six months, in the event of non-use in the aforementioned regions.

3) Beneficiaries

Public and private bodies they can participate both individually and in mixed form. These include:

  • agro-industrial companies that carry out mainly industrial activities,
  • goods and services production industries, logistics and transport companies, including artisan businesses,
  • companies that carry out auxiliary activities in favor of the aforementioned,
  • research centers.

Mixed participation it is limited to a maximum of five companies and / or research centers, and it is necessary to resort to contractual forms of collaboration (eg network contracts, consortia, partnership agreements). Large companies are only admitted if they collaborate with SMEs.

4) Eligible projects

The projects proposed can use one or more of the technologies covered by the call (AI, blockchain, IoT) and must be launched in Italy within three months of granting the loan, for a duration of 24-30 months. The loans vary in amount between € 500 thousand and 2 million (> 10% for each proponent, in the case of joint projects).

The activities must lead to the following results:

a) in the categories 'industrial research' and 'experimental development', respectively,

  • study, design, implementation and testing of a prototype in a laboratory environment (or in an environment equipped with simulation interfaces to existing systems) and the implementation of pilot lines, for the purpose of validating the technologies envisaged by the fund,
  • prototype construction, demonstration, pilot product manufacturing, testing and validation of new or improved products, processes or services,

b) in the categories 'organization innovation' and 'process innovation', respectively

  • the application of new organizational methods in business practices, the organization of the workplace or the external relations of a company,
  • the application of a new or significantly improved method of production or distribution (including significant changes in techniques, equipment or software).

5) Eligible expenses

They are differentiated also in this case, and in the case of industrial research and experimental development, the following expenses are eligible for the subsidies:

a) personnel expenses. Researchers, technicians and other auxiliary personnel insofar as they are employed in the project,

b) costs related to instrumentation and equipment to the extent and for the period in which they are used for the project,

c) costs for contractual research, knowledge and patents acquired or licensed from external sources under normal market conditions, as well as costs for consultancy and equivalent services used exclusively for the purposes of the project,

d) additional overheads and other operating costs, including costs of materials, supplies and similar products, directly attributable to the project.

For activities inherent in 'process innovation' and 'organizational innovation' are eligible for subsidies:

a) personnel expenses, which must not exceed 60 per cent of the total costs,

b) costs related to instrumentation, equipment, to the extent and time of use for the project,

c) costs of contractual research, skills and patents acquired or licensed from external sources under normal market conditions,

d) additional overheads and other operating costs, including costs of materials, supplies and similar products, directly attributable to the project.

6) Amount of funds and types of concessions

The overall resources available are 45 million euros, divided into € 25 million for the development of AI and € 20 million divided equally between the development of tech blockchain and IoT (Internet of Things). 60% of these resources are allocated to research, development and innovation projects proposed by SMEs and business networks.

The benefits they can be granted under the forms of subsidized financing, plant or capital contribution, direct contribution to expenditure, interest account and participation in risk capital. As an alternative to the concessions, under certain conditions, it is possible to participate through pre-commercial procurement or public procurement of innovative solutions.

The maximum entity of these concessions varies, for industrial research and experimental development activities, may respectively cover:

  • 70 and 45% for micro and small enterprises,
  • 60 and 35% for medium-sized companies,
  • 50 and 25% for large companies and research organizations.

7) Terms and procedures for submitting the application

The application for facilitation must be submitted electronically starting from 21.9.22/10/18, from 1 am to 2 pm from Monday to Friday (working days) using the procedure on the website of the manager of the Infratel funds, respecting the scheme in Annex 3,4 and with the accompanying documentation Annex XNUMX (XNUMX).

Already before of the submission of the application, it is possible to prepare the application for facilitation and the documentation to be attached, using the special procedure made available by Infratel, as early as 14.9.22.

The benefits they can be granted to beneficiaries as long as they are available. If the resources are exhausted, the projects are not funded. It is possible to increase the endowment of the fund through voluntary payment by bodies, associations, companies or individual citizens to the provincial State Treasury.

Dario Dongo and Andrea Adelmo Della Penna

Notes

(1) Ministerial Decree 6.12.21. Criteria and methods of use of the resources of the fund for interventions aimed at encouraging the development of technologies and applications of artificial intelligence, blockchain and internet of thingshttps://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/eli/id/2022/01/31/22A00630/sg

(2) Directorial decree 24.6.22. Artificial intelligence, blockchain and internet of things fund. Procedures and terms for granting and disbursement of concessions. https://www.mise.gov.it/images/stories/normativa/Block_chain_-_DD_def_-_24giugno2022REV_2.pdf

(3) https://www.mise.gov.it/images/stories/documenti/Allegati_DD_Blockchain_-__3_2022.zip

(4) https://appfte.invitalia.it/

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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Graduated in Food Technologies and Biotechnologies, qualified food technologist, he follows the research and development area. With particular regard to European research projects (in Horizon 2020, PRIMA) where the FARE division of WIISE Srl, a benefit company, participates.

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