Especially in the Eusalp regions, Energy patents and start-ups dedicated to the circular economy continue to grow. Although their scope is still limited, the contribution they can potentially make to the national economy is, and will always be, more significant. They are the energy start-ups, a microcosm that I-Com ,a think tank founded in 2005 for the promotion of themes and analyses on competitiveness, with offices in Rome and Brussels (https://www.i-com.it), analysed in the last innovation report of 2018.
In Italy there are 1,274 microcosms. One might think that this is a small number. Instead, the contribution that the start-up ecosystem can make to the national economy becomes more important each year. Estimates of the economic impact of over 500 million euros on the Italian gross domestic product reveal that 15% of the overall value is generated by small and medium sized innovative companies in our country. Moreover, most of the overall economic value generated (around 70%) is concentrated in the northern regions.
Lombardy is in the first place with 253 active start-ups. Veneto follows with 117, Campania with 108 and Lazio with 100. The leading cities are Milan with 1,534 total start-ups 139 of which are in the energy field and Rome with 821 in total 86 of which are in the energy field. The impact in terms of employment is also growing, but it is still not a particularly significant contribution: of the approximately 60,000 estimated jobs for the entirety of the start-ups, only about 8,000 are attributable to the energy sector.
Even though Italy still lags far behind in terms of energy patents, which only amount to 878 (equal to 0.9% of the total on a global level), energy start-ups tend to be more innovative: 27% of these situated in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto carried out an intense innovative activity resulting in the filing of a patent or in the registration of a software. In general, two-thirds of the deposited energy patents come from the companies while a quarter from natural persons and the remaining 10% from research bodies.
In terms of technology, in line with the global data, the Italian innovative activity is directed mainly towards storage (29%) and photovoltaic (20%). . While the relative incidence of innovations in the field of cogeneration appears to have doubled from 6% in 2016 to 12% in 2017 mainly to detriment of thermodynamic solar energy, wind power’s position in the third place is quite stable - at 16% in 2016 and at 15% in 2017 -. .
Only 4.5% of energy start-ups have a capital of over 250,000 euros but the highest concentration (75.3%) is in the intermediate ranges which are between 5,000 and 100,000 euros. So the biggest problem is the size: those with a considerable production value - more than 500 thousand euros in fact - are few and mostly concentrated in the northern regions with a relative incidence equal to 9% of the total start-ups present while invoicing over one million euros only 1.9% of energy bills.