3 years ago



03Spin-offs andStart-ups

03Spin-offs andStart-ups in ItalyItaly is displaying strong signs of acceleration in number of newenterprises, as universities and research centers are spinning out agrowing number of companies.As documented by the most importantR&D innovation reports,in Italy, all main universitiesand research centers arenow spinning out a growing number of innovativecompanies. These companies representthe hidden gems that can become agreat business opportunity for VCs and/orBusiness Angels willing to support them. Althoughthe phenomenon is still not comparableto the one experienced in the US in thelast fifty years, however, the scientific talentand the enthusiasm shown by these youngresearchers is palpable. Among the organizationsmonitoring this phenomenon, oneof the most active is NETVAL - the ItalianNetwork for the Valorization of the UniversityResearch- the association of Italianpublic universities whose goal is to enhancethe value of its members’ research activitiesby working with tech-transfer offices anddeveloping collaborations with the privatesector. NETVAL’s platform include all Italianmost important Universities and, thanksto this large network, the association is ableto draw a picture and monitor universities’productivity in terms of spin offs and patentsproduced. According to NETVAL’s report 17 ,since 2000, Italy continues to display signsof a strong acceleration in the number of newborn spin-offs. The report highlights thatamong the 710 spin-offs currently operatingin Italy, more than 85% were born in thelast 8 years and over 80% are located in thenorthern-central Italian regions, co-localizedwith the most active Italian universities.Among the most represented sectors are:ICT (35.8%), life sciences (15.5%), energyand environment (14.6%), electronics (11%)and biomedical (7.4%).In order to facilitate the transition frombench to market and with the aim of providingbrilliant academic scientists with thenecessary instruments to best use their innovativeideas and translate them in commercialtechnologies, 90.7% of the Italianuniversities are now flanked by a TechnologyTransfer Office (TTO). TTOs’ most relevantobjective is to accelerate the creation of entrepreneurialinitiative, offering the necessaryassistance and valuable instruments tospin-offs.NETVAL’s website provides a directory ofItalian spin-offs organized by university. Theonline list is yet to be completed. However,customized selection of university spin-offsby sector can be requested by contactingthe Italian Trade Commission in New York( - or order to provide the reader with a selectionof some of the most interesting andestablished Italian spin-offs that mightbe of interest for VCs and/or a corporateVCs, the authors of the present report useda screening methodology able to guaranteeobjective and homogeneous selection criteria.A logic assumption is to think that themost established and successful spin-offsare the direct result of a fruitful, cooperativeand challenging scientific environment.17 Sixth NETVAL Report, Jan. 2009 “ Patents and Privatecompanies: the universities’ contributions”16

03«Of the 710 spin-offs currentlyoperating in Italy, 35% belongto the ICT sector and 15% to thelife sciences »Table 5: Selection of 15 among the Most Established Italian Spin-offs15 ITALIAN SPIN-OFFS: A SELECTION(complete list can be found on ofCompany DescriptionAresys S.r.l. 2003 Politecnico diMilanoT.R.E. S.r.l. 2000 Politecnico diMIlanoEmbit S.r.l. 2004 Università degliStudi di Modena eReggio EmiliaAresys SRL offers ad-hoc innovative solutionsto space-borne, air-borne and ground basedremote-sensing problems, exploiting state-ofthe-arttechnologies and the latest academicresearch achievements in the field.TRE – the first spin-off company of the Politecnicodi Milano - has developed and patented thePSInSAR technique, a unique tool that detects,measures and monitors different geophysicalphenomena (e.g. subsidence, uplift, landslides,seismic faults, etc.) and verifies the stability ofindividual structures, providing precise measurementsof displacements.Embit develops ad hoc embedded and wireless solutions.TydockpharmaS.r.l.2004 Università degliStudi di Modena eReggio EmiliaTydockpharma is a chemistry-driven researchintensivecompany discovering new drugs targetingmajor infection diseases. Research productsare mainly hit, lead and drug candidate with antiinfectiveactivities based on an innovative mechanismof action that involves an unexplored biologicaltarget (ThyX).ES.TEC.O. S.r.l. 1999 Università degliStudi di TriesteCREST S.r.l. 2004 Università degliStudi di TriestePharmEste S.r.l. 2003 Università degliStudi di FerraraUFPeptides S.r.l. 2003 Università degliStudi di FerraraES.TE.CO develops multi-objective optimizationand design environment software.CREST aims to deal with innovative organizationand supply of met-ocean forecast and hindcastproducts and to develop services in hydrology andmarine hydrodynamics.PharmEste is a private biopharmaceutical companyfocused on the discovery and developmentof Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channeltherapeutics for the treatment of neuropathicpain, overactive bladder and other TRP-mediateddiseases.UFPeprides produces custom synthesized bioactivepeptides.17

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