With a little help from some big American companies, the Italian technology sector is taking off in the early part of 2016.
Last month, the American tech behemoth Cisco Systems announced a series of strategic commitments in Italy that will total $100 million over the next three years.
Cisco signed an agreement with the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) to provide training to teachers and students through the Cisco Networking Academy.
As the first step in developing the Italian startup ecosystem, the tech giant is pursuing investment opportunities together with Invitalia Ventures, a national venture capital firm. This will enable Cisco to invest in the development of the best national startups and encourage hi-tech innovation in Italy.
Two days later Apple announced it would open its first European app development center in Naples, Italy. The iOS App Development Centre, to be located at a partner institution, will support teachers and provide a specialized curriculum preparing thousands of future developers to be part of Apple’s thriving developer community. In addition, Apple will work with partners around Italy who deliver developer training to complement this curriculum and create additional opportunities for students.
While the news has been welcomed by the many, few are connecting this with a tax reduction that Apple has received by the Italian government for their tax bill. One of Italy’s main newspaper “Il Fatto Quotidiano” reported on December the 30th that Italian Government agreed to get from Apple €318 million instead of the €800 million that the American corporation actually owed. In this negotiation, Apple might have included the opening of the new developer center in Naples.
Tax reductions to encourage the reentry of capitals are not new in Italy. Something similar has been done for Valentino Rossi, Luciano Pavarotti in the past.
Italy is a country hungry for foreign investments since its economy is one of the slowest growing in the EU area and has a youth unemployment rate near 45%.
One of the main factors that might have attracted Apple investment is that the average salary for a developer is Italy is around €25,000 while in country like the UK is of £58,473 (€75.000 Euro)
Prime Minister’s Innovation advisor, Paolo Barberis, has greeted both investments as a big win for the Italian Government, in a blog post appeared on Medium. “We have very skilled developers, amongst the best in the World, a great quality of life and one of the most beautiful countries in the planet” wrote Mr. Barberis. “Our startup ecosystem is very healthy but we need new fuel, new investments. Some of our brightest mind are working abroad, we need to win them back and offer new opportunities to participate to the growth of the country.”