SMEs: Boom of applications for the special edition of the fund that supports the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises, managed by Simest, a public financial institution that aims at promoting Italian exports.
Before examining the data, it is necessary to specify that Fund 394/81 is divided into two categories.
The first category, defined as «ordinary», – which was allocated €2.1 billion, of which about €1.6 billion for subsidized loans and over €500 million for non-refundable funds -, is no longer operational due to the rapid depletion of resources, but will probably be reactivated in 2022.
The second category, defined as «extraordinary and one-off», is allocated €1.2 billion and it is named 394/Pnrr, as it is financed with the resources of Next Generation EU and the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). The extraordinary fund was activated on October 28th and will remain operational until May 31st.
The latter – calibrated according to the priorities of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan – has so far received 6500 applications, for a total value of €912 million, as revealed by online newspaper Italia Oggi.
Of the 6500 requests, more than 5200 were approved in 2021, for a total of €753 million, exceeding the target set by the PNRR, which anticipated to cover requests by 4000 SMEs.
The main objective of the Extraordinary Fund is to promote the digital and ecological transition of Italian SMEs with an international vocation, providing three facilitating tools: digital and ecological transition tools, development of e-commerce tools and support to the participation of SMEs in international exhibitions.
These instruments will provide funding for the following objectives: investing in the digital and ecological transition, encouraging the creation or improvement of e-commerce or marketplace platforms for the marketing of Made in Italy goods or services, promoting the participation of Italian enterprises in international events and fairs, supporting SMEs’ business activity on foreign markets or in Italy.
The funds can only be requested by SMEs. The financial support facility includes a non-repayable contribution of up to 25% of funding for all SMEs, with the exception of companies operating in Southern Italy, which benefit from dedicated resources in addition to a non-repayable contribution of up to 40% of the total amount of funding.