Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Italy: A capacity building initiative on start-up visas worldwide


The project, elaborated by the OECD Trento Centre for Local Development in co-operation with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), aims to foster an exchange of practices and mutual learning between selected policy-makers involved in the management of start-up visa programs worldwide, to support inclusive entrepreneurship for migrants.

Implementation period: February 2021 - May 2021



Policy environment

In recent years, the Italian Government has adopted a vast range of policies to strengthen the national innovation ecosystem. Among these, the so-called Italian Start-up Act, introduced in 2012, plays a major role in improving the regulatory framework for innovative firms (see OECD, 2018: The Evaluation of the Italian Startup Act). The Italia Start-up Visa (ISV) programme for ‘migrant entrepreneurship’ is part of such broader effort. Launched in 2014, its purpose is to foster the attraction of non-EU hi-tech entrepreneurs to Italy. A rapid and digital procedure allows them to save time and money when applying for a self-employment visa, individually or in teams.

Up until 31 December 2019, ISV had recorded 481 applications from 49 countries, suggesting that the programme had managed to raise widespread interest worldwide. A survey report issued by the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) in February 2020 shed some light on how individual migration pathways unfold after the issue of the visa, and highlighted the challenges and opportunities met by entrepreneurs once joining the Italian ecosystem.

While monitoring and dialogue with beneficiaries are key to assess the strengths and weaknesses of any policy venture, consultation with policy makers engaged in comparable initiatives worldwide can bring additional insights and hands-on expertise. Analysing differences and similarities with practices from other countries and regions, discussing common challenges and learning from solutions adopted by peers can strengthen the knowledge base in a meaningful way.


The final goal is to support the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and other ISV managing institutions in taking the programme to the next level – from a smart practice that showed promising results to a truly transformative policy able to generate systemic effects.


  • Kick-off webinar. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and its network constitute the main target audience for a first kick-off webinar aimed at providing an overview of the ISV programme, its goals and functioning, the results achieved so far as well as its strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Peer-to-peer learning webinar. Policy practitioners and experts from a selected panel of OECD countries operating start-up visa programmes, i.e Chile (Startup Chile), France (La French Tech Visa), Ireland (Start-up Entrepreneur Programme) and Portugal (Startup Visa Portugal), jointly with Italian institutional representatives, will be the discussants of a second webinar aimed at fostering dialogue and peer-to-peer learning.
  • Briefing note. The project will conclude with a capacity-building brief summarising the evidence collected during the aforementioned webinars and interviews. 


For more information or activate a similar initiative, please contact



MAECI - Ministero degli Affari Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale‌ 



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