Mr Ricci, what is your area of expertise?
Social economy, no profit, innovative start-up and SMEs are my areas of expertise, with particular attention to management, organization, taxation and accountability. As head of a tributary office, in conformity with the law n.4/2013, I professionally practice as tax lawyer and chartered account qualified at international level. I’m professor designated at the Università Statale di Milano in the “Law, Treasury and Civil Society in the third sector” Post- Degree Masters level Course and professor at the Università Bicocca di Milano in “Planning and Management of educational financial projects”. For twenty-years, I have collaborated as a no-profit expert with the most important periodicals and newspapers, such as the Quotidiano Avvenire’s No profit insert and the Rivista della Guardia di Finanza. I’m the author of “Trust e Non Profit” (2013), published by Maggioli Editore and I’m the editor of the Codice del Non Profit, published by Novecento Media Editore (2014).
What is your last publication and how it is related to it?
My latest publication is titled “Social Start Up” published by Maggioli Editore. The book presents different methods and types of development and financing of innovative start-ups, included those with a social scope, and more broadly those acting in the framework of social innovation and social business. The first part of the volume explains, with the help of summary schemes, the relevant features of the innovative start-ups as well as benefits for these businesses and for people who want to invest in. Furthermore, the norm on start-ups recognizes the innovative character of these newly formed businesses, and shows that also start-ups focusing on a social dimension can be characterized as such.
Moreover, through the analysis of the innovative theme of the working buy out, the volume also examines how the spin off may be used as an instrument to solve situations of unemployment and to foster the creation of new entrepreneurship. Businesses networks are also introduced as a typical tool to start an innovative common path with different stakeholders, coming from social economics. A particular reference is made to social and no-profit entrepreneurships, which are at the core of the Reform of the Third Sector.
The second part of the volume is focused on how to develop innovative start-ups and social economics businesses. In order to do this, alternative financing – such as venture philantrophy, private foundations, microcredit and crowdfunding – are thoroughly analysed. Furthermore, a chapter is dedicated to Horizon 2020, the new European Union funding programme for the next years, with particular reference to procedures related to calls for proposals and methods for drafting a business plan. At least, a specific part of the volume is dedicated to the provision of the “information memorandum”, with a reference to capital value and evaluation of innovative start-ups and businesses with a social purpose.
Have you got a particular interest for innovation? Why?
There are some interesting sectors in the economic system despite the current crisis that affects both global competition and the labour market. In this context, innovation and businesses, which are able to take advantage of it, are the key elements. It is not a coincidence that social start-ups and innovative social businesses are areas on which all governments rely on, given their capability to generate competitive advantages on medium and long term, compared to other economic system and, thus, to lead to a greater economic wellness.
The Kauffmann Foundation has declared that “between 1980 and 2015 nearly all net jobs creation in the United States has occurred in firms less than five years old. Even if more consolidated businesses contribute to create labour demands, it is not enough to balance out the employment downturn caused by the downfall or the bankruptcy of enterprises. On average, new enterprises create around 1 million job opportunities per year; while ten-year old enterprises contribute just with 300.000 newly created jobs”. This is impressive. After all, in 2011 the Obama Administration has issued “the Start Up Act” (3.0 version in 2013), with the aim to subsidize and to promote innovative enterprises as the driving force of the economic growth.
Also the Italian Government has decided to rely on innovative enterprises and start-ups, adopting legislative provisions in their favour. Hence, I believe that innovation is the only driving force to create economic growth in areas such as the European Union. This is also true in the social sphere. This is the reason why I have been the first in Italy to introduce at the Università Cattolica di Milano, a Masters course on the innovative start-ups with a social purpose, in order to show connections between these two spheres.
And on SMEs?
Small and medium entrepreneurs, Italians or not, should be familiar with the SMEs programme, because it is addressed to both individual businesses or groups of businesses. In my opinion, the SME instrument is one of the best tools dedicated to the SMEs (art.22 regulations EU n. 1291/2013), and is in order to support both research and innovation activities and SMEs’ capabilities during all the innovation cycle.
An overall idea you have on the Horizon 2020 program?
I’m following with attention the Horizon 2020 since its beginning. I believe it is a greater opportunity for development of many stakeholders, especially in Italy. This is an opportunity that should not be missed. This is the reason why I decided to dedicate a whole chapter of my book to a detailed introduction of Horizon 2020, the EU biggest financial instrument for the next years. In particular, I present the calls of proposals that should contribute to discriminate between innovative and social enterprises, capable to get funding, and those whom on the contrary follow the old parameters of doing business. The selection process of the calls, the application and the management of the project are key elements to get a EU funding opportunity.
Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future of the European Union?
I am very optimistic for the future of the European Union. I believe Europe should reinforce its political entity and its economic and monetary architecture. After all, in this globalized economy I cannot see any other credible option than a more united Europe.
Damiano De Rosa
Chief editor – NEU