What does Telecom Italia/TIM offer start-ups?

Offering start-ups a diverse range of programmes for creating new products

25 European Corporate Startup Stars reveals which large companies are doing the most to support new firms. These case studies highlight some specific examples of active and successful collaboration between corporates and startups.

A good example of…

Strategic investments

European Headquarters: Milan and Rome, Italy

European countries operating in: Italy, with accelerators in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Catania

Sector/s of interest: digital (for example, digital entertainment, mobile open life, indoor life, business life, trusted digital life, enriched communication and data evolution)

Works with start-ups through:

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  • Four TIM#WCAP accelerators
  • TIM Ventures, Telecom Italia’s Corporate Venture Capital fund
  • Mentorships and regular events
  • Fast-track procurement processes and go-to-market partnerships
  • Offering free resources, such as office space and facilities
  • Occasional acquisitions


Why does Telecom Italia/TIM work with start-ups?

Telecommunications company TIM is creating innovative new digital products, for both internal use and its clients, through accelerating the work of promising start-ups. This also allows the corporation to innovate and enter new markets.

How does Telecom Italia/TIM work with start-ups?

TIM has a very well structured ecosystem of support for digital start-ups. Through an excellent range of events and programmes, it nurtures early-stage business, from incubation and acceleration to acquisition and investment.

TIM collaborates with start-ups through four TIM#WCAP accelerators, in Italy, and TIM Ventures, an investment vehicle for corporate venture capital activity. Through these two areas of work, TIM promotes the start-ups internally, to other parts of the company, and externally, to its partners and clients. For example, Pedius, a communication system that helps deaf and hard-of-hearing people to make phone calls, was supported by one of the TIM#WCAP accelerator programmes and helped TIM launch the first Italian call centre for deaf people.

What has Telecom Italia/TIM done to facilitate collaboration with start-ups?

The four TIM#WCAP accelerators – in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Catania – host an average of two to three events per week targeting start-ups and bringing them into its business. These include hackathons, in partnership with local governments, and Startup Weekend, which aims to create new companies. Free resources, such as co-working space, Wi-Fi and other facilities also help engage start-ups.

Since December 2014, TIM Ventures has made 16 venture capital investments, and in 2015 it was ranked as number 36 among the most active global corporate venture capital investors (by CB Insights).

Fast-track procurement processes with shorter payment terms have also been implemented to suit start-ups’ needs. Alongside this, TIM business units have access to ‘the innovation basket’: a budget of €1m per year to part cover the costs of services supplied by start-ups.

Thanks to the above open innovation tools, in 2015, TIM developed around 35 go-to-market partnerships involving start-ups, including commercial relationships, pilots and trials.

Success story: Pedius

Pedius is a communication system helping deaf and hard-of-hearing people to make phone calls, by using voice recognition and speech synthesis technologies. Telecom Italia/TIM awarded Pedius a grant of €25,000 through its accelerator programme, and launched the first call centre accessible to deaf people as a result.

Pedius then received €410,000 in seed funding from TIM Ventures and other Italian investors, proving that solving a social issue with business logistics is both possible and an attractive proposition. Today, Pedius is active in nine countries, has 11,000 registered users and is growing by 9% every month.


Telecom Italia/TIM has a very well-structured corporate-start-up eco-system, that covers incubation and acceleration, as well as investment and acquisition, and is integrated throughout the company

Candace Johnson, Corporate Startup Stars judge


What can other corporates learn from Telecom Italia/TIM about working with start-ups?

  • Offering free resources, such as office space and facilities, and hosting regular events are an effective way of bringing start-ups into a business
  • Accelerator programmes with multiple offices and targeted investment funds attract qualified deal flow. The success of Pedius also proves that funding social projects can generate strong returns
  • Standard supplier processes, designed to suit more mature companies, often don’t work for start-ups. A ‘fast-track’ way of procuring early-stage companies is more effective


What is Telecom Italia/TIM looking for from the start-ups it works with?TIM is seeking early-stage start-ups operating in digital sectors or verticals – for example, digital entertainment, mobile open life, indoor life, business life, trusted digital life, enriched communication and data evolution.TIM’s main goals are: entering new businesses and benefiting of potential growth of new market segments; moving up the value chain; a quicker go-to-market through the set-up of a critical mass of business and customers and gaining a return on investment.

How can start-ups get involved with Telecom Italia/TIM?

For updates and to get in touch with Telecom Italia/ TIM, please go to:

TIM#WCAP Accelerator





TIM Ventures 



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Image courtesy of SVC2UK CEO Summit 2015.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 644104.


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