UniCredit Start Lab closes a very dynamic and intense first four months of 2021 in terms of initiatives and projects carried out and the number of startups involved: as many as 2,000 so far!


2:00 min

It has been an exceptional beginning of 2021 for Start Lab, UniCredit’s initiative created to provide concrete support for young entrepreneurs, innovation and new technologies.

We started in February with StartUp Plus, an open webinar format dedicated to Italian start-ups, which allowed us to reach an audience of 1,300 innovators connected live from all over the country, sharing information and insights of 18 innovation experts and opinion leaders with them.


In the meantime, we noticed the growing number of start-ups applying to UniCredit Start Lab 2021.The call closed on 20 April, with 700 start-ups registered, at the end of an intense remote scouting activity involving 200 partners from the whole Italian innovation ecosystem. 


While evaluations are currently underway to identify the 40 best projects entering the platform - 10 from each of the four sectors (Innovative Made in Italy, Digital, Clean Tech and Life Science) - we share some previews and curiosities about this lineup of candidates.


Not only millennials - the age of the founders who submitted their proposals dispels the myth of the young, newly graduate start upper. 50% of the founders are over 35. We are therefore not talking of people at their first professional experience but, very frequently, we’re meeting serial start uppers, entrepreneurs and professionals with an articulated career path behind them, from which they start to draw upon and rely on for a new business adventure.


More and more women - the number of female-led start-ups is around 20%. This number has become even more interesting in recent years in the subgroup of selected start-ups, of which 1 in 4 is led by a woman. This is why UniCredit Start Lab has launched several initiatives dedicated to female entrepreneurship in recent months, including the UniCredit Bootcamp Tel Aviv and the Tech Women for Sustainable Business programme


Traditional and emerging sectors - 52% of the entrepreneurial projects presented fall into the Digital category (Cloud systems, mobile apps, B2B services & platforms, hardware, fintech, IoT), while Innovative Made in Italy sectors (fashion, design, tourism, agrifood, but also nanotechnology, robotics, mechanics, Industry 4.0) account for 26%. The two sectors in constant quantitative and qualitative growth are Life Science (biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, digital health care and assistive technologies) and Clean Tech (renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste treatment, smart cities and smart mobility), with 14% and 8% of applications respectively. In addition to all these sectors, projects linked to sustainability and so-called "Impact Innovation" are increasingly emerging, a phenomenon closely observed by Start Lab and at the centre of a series of innovations that will characterise this edition, first and foremost with a new ad hoc jury dedicated to them.


A varied geography - All the Italian regions submit Start Lab applications, with a number that reflects the distribution of innovative start-ups and SMEs throughout the country. Lombardy leads the way with 25% of applications, followed by the regions of Central and Northern Italy (Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Marche, Umbria) with 18% overall, the North East (Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia) with 16%, the South (Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria) with 13%, the North West (Piedmont, Liguria, Valle d'Aosta) and the Centre (Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Sardinia) with 11% each and Sicily with 6%. 


This is just an initial sneak peek, while we wait to hear about the selected projects, which from June and July will face one of the most technical steps of the path, with an initial evaluation of entrepreneurs and C-Level Managers of well-known Italian and international companies, with more than 40 brands at the jury table this year. Good luck to all the innovators joining!