Italy is the latest country to quickly support the domestic development of an AI ecosystem. As part of its Artificial Intelligence Strategic Program, the government will “soon” launch a €150 million fund to support startups in the field, backed by development bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP).
As reported by Corriere Communizione, Alessio Butti, the undersecretary of the Italian cabinet in charge of technological innovation, conveyed the news about the state-backed fund yesterday. While he did not provide specific details about the amount that would be made available, government sources later revealed Reuters the figure being discussed in Rome was close to €150 million.
“Our goal is to increase the independence of Italian industry and to cultivate our national capacity to develop skills and research in the sector,” said Butti. “That is why we are working with CDP to create an investment fund for the most innovative startups, so that study, research and programming in the field of AI can be promoted in Italy.”
Indeed, the AI boom is here in earnest. Yesterday, Nvidia became the first chipmaker to reach a $1 trillion valuation. The share gain followed a forecast of $11 billion in Q2 revenue thanks to the company’s chips powering OpenAI’s ChatGPT (which just happened to fare a little badly with Italy).
Those who haven’t yet got their hands on the (generative) AI pie are now racing to be part of the algorithm-driven gold rush of the 21st century.
While governments are focused on regulatory oversight, they are also keen to support domestic developers in the field of artificial intelligence for several reasons. Last month, the UK made available £100 million in funding for a task force to help build and deploy the “next generation of secure AI”.
Italy is also considering setting up its own “ad hoc” task force. Butti stated: “In Italy, we need to update the sector’s strategy, which is why the Department of Digital Transformation is working to create an authoritative group of Italian experts and scientists.”
Part of national AI strategy
Italy approved in 2021 the Strategic Program for Artificial Intelligence 2022-2024, but the sector is of course evolving at lightning speed. The strategy is a joint project of the ministries of university and research, economic development and technological innovation and digital transition. In addition, it is guided by a working group on the national strategy for AI.
The program outlines 24 policies that the government will have implemented over the three years. In addition to measures to support domestic AI development, these include promoting STEM subjects and increasing the number of PhDs to attract international researchers. Furthermore, they focus on setting up a data infrastructure for public administration and specific support for startups that work in GovTech and want to solve critical problems in the public sector.