H-FARM is the most picturesque venture incubator you’ve ever been to, based in the Italian countryside a convenient five minutes from the Venice Airport. While the area’s shoe manufacturing industry struggles to keep profitable under the heat of delocalised competition, this massive incubator offers a nearby solution to the economic woes.
Set over 1300 hectares on a modern campus with massive coworking spaces, a huge produce farm (one startup is monitoring veggie growth), a fresh-foods cafeteria, huge transparent cubes host roughly 300 young, inspired 20-somethings at 400 euros a desk. When Wired Italia director Riccardo Luna spent time visiting H-Farm he said afterwards on Twitter that it “intoxicated him: a new Italy is born and is set to grow”.
So far Italy’s technological lag has caused a need for departure, leading young, aspiring entrepreneurs out of the country and into emerging startup hubs across Europe where visibility and access to funding is higher. Working closely with other local incubators like Padova’s M31 (which specialises in hardware technology) and Florence’s Nana Bianca (led by Paulo Barberes, startup veteran and founder of Dada, which IPO’d in 2010) – H-Farm aims to keep Italian talent in the motherland.
With a €20 million fund backed by international partners like Bertelsmann and Unicredit, H-Farm acts as both an incubator and investor: it provides startups with the capital required to commence operations while supplying a range of administrative, financial and commercial services.
To date the portfolio comprises 30 startups, four of which have already been sold with successful track records. H-art, for instance, a web agency, a seed investment of €100,000. It was sold for €5 million to the WPP group, world leader in advertising and marketing services and reached a turnover of approximately €10 million in 2011.
Despite the palpable love of Italy, some of H-Farm’s biggest success stories are still the ones who leave, much like in Berlin. One mobile commerce company Garage (backed by Balderton Capital and Holzbrinck) recently opened an office in London, which H-Farm founder Maurizio Rossi mentioned as a point of pride.
As H-Farm expands, it is actively looking to host founders from in and out of the country. Get in touch with the team here.