This region of north-central Italy, equidistant between Florence and Milan and largely known for its agricultural industries, boasts one of the strongest regional economies in Italy. Already home to some of Italy’s most established and iconic exports – from Ferrari and Lamborghini to Technogym, Furla and Prosciutto di Parma, Emilia-Romagna is known as the cooperative capital of Italy.
In a recent article titled “Europe’s innovation comeback: Emilia Romagna leads Italy back”, the Financial Times praised the region’s strong growth and status as one of the most prosperous regions in Italy, with an income per capita around 35% above the wider EU average.
The region has put in place great infrastructure to support the plethora of start ups, encouraging and facilitating a high level of innovation. Many women entrepreneurs in Emilia-Romagna are feeling empowered to start their own businesses or are turning to self-employment as freelancers, in a variety of different industries. There are more and more examples of successful mum-owned businesses in Emilia-Romagna.
Emilia Romagna Start Up is the main regional initiative for startups or future entrepreneurs. The online platform shares information about innovative startups and business support organisations in the public and private sector as well as information on incubators and the local chamber of commerce. The organisation also offers support and advice on all areas of entrepreneurship, financing, business development.
The region’s capital, Bologna is the seventh largest city in the country, with around one million inhabitants and a fantastic reputation in terms of its quality of life, especially for families, with many business opportunities forback-to-work mothers. Neighbouring Modena has also been hailed by many as one of the best places in Italy to create and grow a new business.
Founded in Bologna in 2006, the You Can Group is a collection of companies, a business incubator for innovative schemes and a creative outlet where concepts, ideas, events and products are brought to life. Founded by entrepreneurs Sara Roversi and Andrea Magelli, their project has grown into a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem specialising in projects for new businesses in the digital, design, and food fields.
You Can Group has most recently developed philanthropic projects focused on future food scenarios, with a particular emphasis on social innovation and education. They are launching food apps, opening restaurants and creating co-working spaces, all in the name of achieving growth, inspiring innovation, and empowering entrepreneurs in the region. Their network is directly responsible for many positive changes to the region’s startup eco system, supporting many small and growing businesses. The full list of their work is on their website.
One of their most recent projects, The Future Food Accelerator is dedicated to startups in Emilia Romagna that develop “farm to fork” services, products and solutions in the world of food. The organisation promotes innovation among startups, businesses and the global ecosystem of the food industry.
Work Wide Women was founded in Bologna in May 2013 and is the first social network dedicated to the professional training of women in Bologna and Modena, through e-learning and webinars. The organisation supports women in business in Emilia-Romagna a myriad of ways, to create mutual opportunities for inclusion, employment and growth.
Bologna Startup is a group for professionals and entrepreneurs in the region to meet like-minded people in the local area who are either self employed or aspiring to create their own businesses. They meet once a mont in the centre of Bologna.
The International Women’s Forum (IWF) is a non-profit organisation for English speaking women of all nationalities in Bologna. The group provides the opportunity for professional and cultural exchanges, where women can meet contacts, find support and friendship, and speak English with more than 100 members from over 20 countries, including many expat mum entrepreneurs. The International Women’s Association of Modena (IWAM) is a social and cultural non-profit organisation for international English speaking women in Modena and the surrounding areas. They organise regular aperitivos and a friendly, welcoming setting to socialise, enjoy interesting company, make professional contacts and exchange experiences.
Kilowatt is the first coworking space for children and parents in Emilia Romagna, set within Le Serre dei Giardini Margherita, the former municipal greenhouses and a regenerated abandoned public space. Ideal for entrepreneurs in the region, Kilowatt offers workspace for freelancers and entrepreneurs alongside the lovely Kw Baby, offering childcare and outdoor education, and hosts resident workshops, and an annual summer festival Kw Summer. The Serre dei Giardini Margherita is also home to the gARTen community, responsible for the vegetable garden, the ethical purchasing group (GAS), and event space dubbed the Lion Cage.
Factory Grisù is the first “culture and creativity factory” in Emilia-Romagna. Set within a former fire brigade barracks, the 4,000-square-metre space is ideal for cultural and creative enterprises in the centre of Ferrara. Work in Progress is another new workspace in the centre of Bologna close to Bologna Central Station and Piazza Maggiore. Offering a flexible environment for digital nomads, freelancers and entrepreneurs and with just 10 work stations, it is intimate and sociable.
Spazio ReFactory is a shared space dedicated to freelancers looking for a young, flexible and innovative work environment, in particular in digital and creative fields. The Capodilucca project is an initiative dedicated to the creative professions in the heart of Bologna. Occupying a beautiful converted medieval mill with a garden and charming views over the Moline canal, each floor boasts a different “vibe” and range of services. They also host exhibitions and events to create opportunities for members to showcase their work and projects.
For more places offering flexible working, there is a comprehensive list of all the coworking spaces in the region on the Emilia Romagna Startup website.
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