Utilities looking forward to a customer-centric, products and services model are increasingly acquiring companies that provide these or are supporting such innovation in start-ups. [see e.g. Engerati-Energy Sector At Risk Of Being Ubered]
Latest to join this trend is Enel, which brings a novel approach to the initiative. With investment bank Intermonte, equity and venture capital company Consilia and credit access facilitator AscomFidi Nord-Ovest, Enel has launched the “Call for Disruption in Energy” for innovative energy and green economy projects. The aim is to select two projects from innovative start-ups, which will receive support in structuring an equity crowdfunding campaign and accelerated growth process to sustain their business.
“Thanks to recent legislative changes and the updating of rules we now have the conditions for an acceleration of the growth of equity crowdfunding in Italy,” comments Fabrizio Barini, head of business development at Intermonte. “Compared with the €6 million raised so far, fundraising could increase tenfold, approaching the levels already achieved today in other European countries. It is therefore the right time to launch initiatives that promote awareness of this type of financing instrument, especially for companies in the green economy, which in Italy are among the few not to have suffered in the economic crisis.”
Start-ups have until 30 September 2016 to submit their applications. The top two applications will be selected by a jury of independent experts appointed by the partners in the initiative. The two winning companies will be helped in their growth through a business mentoring programme provided by Enel, investor relations and content providing services offered by Intermonte through Websim, and legal and management advisory services offered by Consilia. They will also benefit from a reduction in the placement fees charged by Intermonte and AscomFidi and more favourable conditions than those prevailing on the market, with no setup fees or guaranteed minimums.
The equity crowdfunding platform, Equitystartup, will remain available to the companies even after the call to allow them to raise the capital they need to grow.
A first for energy in Italy
"We are very pleased to join forces with partners such as Intermonte, Consilia and Ascomfidi to provide the decisive impetus to the growth, design and development of innovative ideas in the field of energy and the green economy,” says Ernesto Ciorra, head of Innovation and Sustainability at Enel. "With this agreement, we can also eliminate one of the main obstacles for start-ups associated with the costs and notary formalities involved with both changes in companies’ articles of association and special shareholder resolutions needed to increase share capital, which Enel will now bear.”
Alessandro M. Lerro, president of the Italian Equity Crowdfunding Association, comments that this is the first initiative that combines crowdfunding and energy in Italy. “I believe it is an excellent opportunity, especially for retail investors. In the energy sector, the goal may not be traditional capital gains, the millionaire gains that start-ups usually seek, but rather the creation of a solid business with large profit margins, in an industry that is more stable than many others.”
Carlo Nebiolo, president of AscomFidi, adds: “We are enthusiastic participants in this initiative as it is being developed in two areas that we feel very strongly about. This means supporting start-ups and investment in the generation of electricity from renewable resources.”
Equitystartup is the only platform operating on the Italian market to be operated by an entity subject to the supervision of the Bank of Italy and Italy’s National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange (Consob). It integrates the typical business of equity crowdfunding platforms with a broad range of financial, legal and administrative services support.