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Kick-off of UniCredit Start Lab 2019

Kick-off of UniCredit Start Lab 2019

Subscriptions now open for start-ups and innovative SMEs to present their projects before the closing date of 16 April 2019


The selected business plans will have access to UniCredit's acceleration programme, currently in its sixth edition



Subscriptions to the sixth edition of UniCredit Start Lab are now open. The acceleration programme was first launched in 2014 targeted at start-ups and innovative SMEs that have been operational for less than five years.


As in previous years, UniCredit Start Lab will support new businesses with a particular focus on technology and innovation through a number of initiatives, including: grants, mentoring, training, ad hoc banking services, and help in finding commercial and strategic partners thanks to 'business meetings' organised leveraging UniCredit's network and institutional relationships.


There are four categories in which business plans can be accepted to the programme:

  • Innovative Made in Italy: category for businesses with high potential in key sectors of the Italian economy i.e. agri-food, fashion, design, nanotechnology, robotics, machinery and tourism;
  • Digital: category for businesses and new proposals in the field of cloud systems, hardware, mobile applications, internet of things, B2B services and platforms, and fintech;
  • Clean Tech: category for business plans focused on solutions for energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable transportation and waste management;
  • Life Science: category focused on identifying the most relevant projects related to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, digital health care and assistive technology.


In order to participate in the selection process for UniCredit Start Lab 2019, start-ups and SME candidates must present an entrepreneurial project based on an original and innovative idea. The candidates must fill in the participation form, providing a complete business plan for their project and agreeing to the relevant data privacy requirements. All forms must follow the guidelines provided on the online subscription platform and be submitted before 16 April 2019. Further details on the guidelines for this process, the documents required and the rules of the Start Lab competition are available on:


The sixth edition of UniCredit Start Lab follows the success of last year when the competition saw 632 submissions in total of which 461 came from already established companies and 171 were new entrepreneurial ideas. 40 projects were selected to participate in the programme. 49% of the total business plans presented were in the Digital category, 29% in Innovative Made in Italy, 12% in Life Science and 10% in Clean Tech. 43% of the participants were aged between 24 and 35 while 23% were over 45. The latter is a trend we are seeing increase year by year. Most of the submissions came from Lombardy with 128 projects proposed from the region, followed by Veneto and Sicily with 67 and 54 business plans, respectively.


Last year's winners were the following companies in each of the four categories of the Start Lab competition:


HEXAGRO URBAN FARMING (Milano) in the Innovative made in Italy category. The company develops easy-to-use and customisable design indoor gardens to decentralise food production and reconnect people to nature. Its first product is the Living Farming Tree, a modular, scalable and automated vertical garden producing pesticide-free greens to offices and hotels while increasing air quality and employee/customer wellbeing. It uses aeroponics technology to produce healthy and delicious produce 5x faster, saving up to 90% of water than traditional agriculture and 55% in maintenance costs.


SMART TRACK (Genova) in the Digital category. An innovative European start-up developing an IoT platform with dedicated wearable tags and sensors, smart algos and apps to avoid human injuries and men-machine collisions on the work floor. In case of an industrial accident, Smart Track alerts safety managers & guides the intervention of emergency teams, escape and evacuation plans.


TEST1 (Brescia) in the Clean Tech category. The company proposed the patent of the PU-FF sponge, a completely unique product in the world for the reclamation of environmental disasters in Oil & Gas. The product can be used for any type of oil spill. PUFF is able to absorb all kinds of hydrocarbon for about 30 times its own weight and is reusable (through wringing) more than 100 times thanks to the recovery of intact hydrocarbons. 1 Kg of PUFF absorbs about 3 tons of hydrocarbons.


PROMETHEUS (Parma) in the Life Science category for their three-dimensional human and animal tissues that can be used in pharmacological tests and transplants. The first product already developed and patented is a second skin for the regeneration of chronic wounds. It is employable immediately in the veterinary sector and in the future in the human field for the treatment of ulcers, bedsores and severe burns.


This year will also see the launch of the UniCredit Launch Pad programme for innovative start-ups and SMEs in the North East region of Italy (including: Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto Adige and Veneto) with revenues exceeding 250 000 euros in 2017. The programme relies on UniCredit's local partners to flag the right companies to participate.