The government has already taken 400 million away from the national biotech fund still on standby

The government has already taken 400 million away from the national biotech fund still on standby

Mise allocates additional funds for the Enea tech and biomedical fund to Invitalia. Yet another trip to a project to support startups and the life sciences supply chain that never took off

Biotech (Girl with red hat / Unsplash) There is no peace for the Enea Tech and Biomedica l Foundation, which should take care of finance the technology transfer in the biotech sector in Italy. Born in December 2020 under the then Conte 2 government as Enea Tech and immediately branded as a clone of the National Innovation Fund of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, it does not have time to place one of the 500 million euros provided by the current Minister of Economic development, Giancarlo Giorgetti, decides to change its name, statute, top management and tasks to deal only with biotechnologies.

In July, the Sostegni bis decree sanctions the transformation. And he entrusts her with an additional 400 million for conversion projects. Which, a summer time, pass under the control of the National Agency for the Attraction of Investments and Business Development. Alias ​​Invitalia, whose CEO is Domenico Arcuri, rejoiced in the role of coronavirus emergency commissioner upon the arrival of Mario Draghi at Palazzo Chigi.

On the bench

Enea Tech and Biomedical seem to have ended up in the harbor of the mists. You should play a leading role in these months, given that the government isa> preparing to start a national supply chain for the production of the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19, as Il Sole 24 Ore recalls. However, the foundation remained without a statute. A new board of directors must be appointed. Three seats go to the Ministry of Economic Development (Mise), which would have in mind to place Giorgetti's consultant for vaccines and former Minister of Economy and Finance in Count 1, Giovanni Tria, as president. The other two, on the other hand, belong to the Departments of Health and Education. The foundation site has been frozen since May. On LinkedIn the profile has disappeared. In the spring there were a thousand startup projects screened, the first investments on the ramp, then the stop.

And from Monday 20 September the additional 400 million have also been moved. To put it in black and white is a provision signed by Giuseppe Bronzino, general manager of the direction for business incentives of the Mise, which Wired was able to view. Since "based on the current state of operation of the Fund for technology transfer, there are no additional resources required at present", Giorgetti's offices have transferred the chips to the contracts that Invitalia, controlled by the Ministry of Finance, deals with. So much so that on September 20, at noon, the window was reopened to present the subsidy requests, which were closed at the beginning of August.

A painful change

The deduction weighs on Enea Tech and Biomedical. The Sostegni bis decree confirmed its treasury of 500 million, binding half of it to specifically biomedical activities: biotechnology, telemedicine, production of medical devices and prevention of health emergencies. The additional 400 million should have strengthened this mission, reducing instead the "generalist" financing to startups, from microelectronics to artificial intelligence. However, since the Mise did not receive any projects on the subject (and it would have been difficult for them to have arrived, given that the foundation is headless), the funds were allocated elsewhere. Thus the 31 employees, who manage the ordinary administration of a machine with the engine off, and the first agreements with the Emilia-Romagna Region and with the European Space Agency (ESA) end up on the bench.

What in spite of the equilibrium of the former owner of the Mise, now in agriculture, Stefano Patuanelli, the original Enea Tech risked colliding with the mission of the most powerful National Innovation Fund, which has 1.36 billion assets under management, 400 million capital approved and 9 dedicated funds (the last one, launched on 13 September, aims to bring companies in the four most strategic sectors for Italy, namely industry, energy, services and infrastructures to the world of innovation), it has been clear since from the beginning. As well as the risk that an overlap could nullify investments in research and development, which in Italy are low compared to the European average (500 million in venture capital in 2019, against 10.2 billion in the United Kingdom, 5.4 in Germany and 4.4 of France).

And with 696 companies in life science technologies in 2019 (they were 505 ten years earlier) and about 770 million investments (data from the sector association, Assobiotec) l Italy has a leading sector in the biotech sector, which, however, suffers from its medium-small size. There would be 500 million to make it grow. But those who have them in their wallet at the moment cannot spend them.

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