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Rome unveils €1 billion fund to boost Italian AI

PM Meloni wants Italian companies to leverage the “greatest revolution of this time” and has asked CDP to support their efforts with major funding, intended to draw in more money. The effort complements Rome’s push to regulate AI governance, including within the G-7

Big money for Italian AI. On Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni confirmed that CDP Venture Capital (the VC arm of State lender CDP) will invest €1 billion in Italy’s artificial intelligence ecosystem. The money will either be channelled into a new, AI-specialised investment fund, or other investment funds arctic in the field. She noted that the resulting operation is intended to act as a multiplier and attract further investment.

Delving deeper. Agostino Scornajenchi, managing director and general manager of CDP Venture Capital, expects the investment to attract an additional €2 billion. “We are honoured to welcome the responsibility that the government entrusts to us,” he said, noting that the resources “will play a primary role in the Industrial Plan that we will present in early April.”

  • He explained that CDP’s work will focus on technology transfer, to enhance Italian research and university excellence and lead them to become enterprises; investments in early-stage companies that need to consolidate; and investments geared toward creating a national champion capable of developing an Italian large language model, one that “may ensure support for tomorrow’s industrial processes and guarantee the security of sensitive data.”

It’s about building an “Italian way” to AI, to its development and its governance, explained PM Meloni while speaking remotely at an AI event organised by her office. “We can build this way only through strong support for research, for experimentation, for those productive realities that already exist in Italy but obviously need to be enhanced to become stronger and more competitive.”

  • Such an effort, she added, must “clearly […] start with the great champions of this nation.”

The national efforts. The PM also noted that her government is preparing legislation, to be shared with Parliment, to complement the upcoming European Union AI Act (expected to get the final approval on Wednesday). The dual goal is “establishing principles” and “identifying the most effective measures to stimulate [Italy’s] productive fabric.” Undersecretary Alessio Butti, the organiser of Tuesday’s event, further noted that the executive intends to pass the measure within 15 days. 

  • “We intend to deploy the available resources immediately,” he said. The bill “will already include” the existing €800 million fund controlled by CDP and Italy’s National Cybersecurity Agency (ACN). The State lender’s venture capital division is expected to provide a business plan to reach a billion, he explained.
  • “We need to bring together the world of research with universities, SMEs and innovative startups. Only by listening to their needs, also providing economic resources, regulating the path on the affirmation of AI, will we arrive at the industrial policy that the country lacks.”

Surfing, not drowning. PM Meloni confirmed that the Italian government is working on a national AI strategy and shared governance paths within the G-7 nations Italy leads in 2024. Her stated aim is to keep the technology’s development on human-centric tracks, carving out a leading role for Rome in the process.

  • She called AI “the greatest revolution of this time” as well as “the main challenge we have before us,” underscoring the profound impact it can have at the anthropological, social, economic and productive levels.

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