You are right in saying that the majority of start-ups are in the fields of science and technology. However, to the purpose you are raising there are no "preferable fields." Indeed, Italian law requires a minimum investment rather than a specific field to invest in. Hence, you would be considered eligible for the investor visa program even if you are setting up your own fashion studio in Milan (at present time, the best place in Europe for the business you're involved in).
What kind of start-ups are preferable by Italy’s investor visa program?
I am a newly graduated fashion designer and would like to set up my own fashion studio in Milan. As a non-EU national, I also want to use this start-up to apply for an investor visa. However, based on what I have learned, the majority of start-ups are in the fields of science and technology. What other fields are preferable?
Create your own start-up: The company must meet the requirements set forth by law 221/2012. The applicant must: prove the availability of at least 50,000 euros to be used for the sole purpose of establishing and operating the start-up; submit a detailed business plan. The key for obtaining the clearance from the ministry is being able to submit an “innovative” project. The ministry’s committee will in fact focus its exam on the viability and novelty of the project, while the availability of funds is only a technical requirement that confirms the applicant’s ability to start the proposed activity. The law does not require the activity to be only in the fields on science and technology. It can be any field, but the idea and project must be innovative. Invest in an existing start-up: Applicants intending to join an existing start-up can obtain a work visa but must make sure that: the investment is for at least 100,000; they will be appointed as chairman, CEO, member of the board of directors or auditor; they will also work as self-employees for the company (i.e., as independent consultant). The law gives the possibility to file the application through a certified incubator, i.e., an Italian company having specific features and that can host start-ups and help them by providing technical, legal and management support, as well as equipment and a space where the start-ups can develop their business. These visas are subject to availability of quotas issued yearly by the government.
Only innovative start-up companies falling under the definition provided for by Law 221/2012 are elegible to ground a start-up visa application. It is not the business field that matters but rather the fulfilment of the requirements set forth by the law, among which are: have a yearly turnover lower than 5 million euros; do not distribute profits; produce, develop and commercialize innovative goods or services of high technological value; be of innovative character. That can be identified by at least one of the following criteria: at least 15 percent of the company’s expenses can be attributed to R&D activities; at least one third of the total workforce are Ph.D. students, the holders of a Ph.D. or researchers or, alternatively, two thirds of the total workforce must hold a master’s degree; the enterprise is the holder, depositary or licensee of a registered patent (industrial property) or the owner of a program for original registered computers.