Products offered by Italian SMEs are exported successfully throughout the world even to historically difficult markets. This success is mainly due to the ability to consistently offer high quality products. This is reiterated by the fact that over the last ten years the trend shows that the average unit values of the products offered by Italian SMEs have grown at a faster pace than those of other European countries.

 

An Italian mobile ice cream cart (credits: Flickr / Tekne Italia)

An Italian mobile ice cream cart (credits: Flickr / Tekne Italia)

Moreover, due to the fact that by and large, products offered by Italian SMEs are perceived to have a high quality, customers all round the world are prepared to pay a premium. In fact, Italy is the country with the highest number of products with the highest average unit value in the world (255 products). These types of products come from a number of different industries from food products to mechanics, from furniture to design and fashion.

 

and here they are: the ten reasons for investing in Italian SMEs.

 

1. In the manufacturing sector, Italy is the European leader for the creation of value added: with €77.3 billion, Italian SMEs contribute more than one fifth (22.1 per cent) of the total value added created in Europe by manufacturing companies with up to 50 employees. This is the highest percentage among EU countries, above Germany (€64.8 billion -18.5%), France (€46.5 billion -13.3 per cent), the UK (€38,7 billion -11.1%) and Spain (€31.1 billion – 8.9 per cent) (source: Eurostat)

 

2. In Italy, SMEs are the driving force behind national exports, with a driving effect far superior than SMEs in other European countries. In Italy, out of all manufacturing firms that export their products (88,952 firms), nine out of ten have 50 employees or less. They represent 89.9 per cent of the total (79,947 firms). In Germany, the same type of firms represent 67 per cent of the total (46,000 firms). Even when considering micro-firms (under 10 employees) Italy has got more companies that export their products (44,749) than micro-firms in Germany (24,209). In Europe, Italy has the highest number of SMEs that export their products, followed by Germany (14,5 per cent), France (7,8 per cent), the UK (6,9 per cent), Poland (6,8 per cent) and Spain (6,1 per cent). (Source: Eurostat)

 

3. Over the last decade, products manufactured by Italian SMEs have seen a qualitative growth higher than that of other European countries. Since the introduction of the euro, the average unit value of products manufactured in Italy has grown by 39 per cent compared to 36.4 per cent in the UK, 30.6 per cent in Spain and 26.9 per cent in France. (source: A-Comtrade)

 

4. Italy is home to the largest number of products in the EU with the highest average unit value in the world (255 products) compared to 196 in Germany, 193 in France and 188 in UK. This group of products includes some that are historically associated with the “Made in Italy” brand and come from sectors such as food, furniture, mechanical and fashion & design. There is also a large number of products that come from a wide range of other sectors, ranging from motorbikes to bags, from helicopters to parts of watch cases, coats, shoes, jackets, gloves wallets, preserved mushrooms, bike tyres, waste paper, transmission belts and wood panelling, grand pianos and violins, milling metal and vitamins, typewriters, cast iron baths and golf clubs. (source: A-Comtrade)

 

5. Italy ranks second in Europe by number of companies (65,481) which, over the last three years, have introduced innovation processes or innovative products, Germany is the leading country with 90,395 companies, but Italy ranks above The United Kingdom (44,623), France (37,924) and Spain (24,159). Of those companies in Italy which have introduced innovation over the last three years, almost 54,000 (more than 80%) have less than 50 employees. That’s a clear sign that company size is not a barrier for innovation. (source: Eurostat)

 

An Italian business school in Trento (credits: Flickr / Trentino as lab)

An Italian business school in Trento (credits: Flickr / Trentino as lab)

6.On the whole, Italian companies are among the leading companies in Europe that best implement eco-efficient production systems. Italian firms produce 104 tons of carbon dioxide per EUR 1 million of production (143 tons in Germany and 130 tons in the UK) and 41 tons of waste (65 tons in Germany and the United Kingdom and 93 tons in France). Thanks to SMEs, Italy is a leading country in Europe for the “green economy” and as a result, employment growth in this sector in Italy is one of the highest in Europe. Data shows that in 2014, 51 per cent of Italian SMEs had at least one green job in comparison to 37 per cent in UK, 32 per cent in France and 29 per cent in Germany. When looking at the recycling industry in Europe, out of a total of 163 million tons of waste recycled, Italy recycled 24.1 million tons , the highest amount in European. (source: 2013 GreenItaly Symbola Foundation and Unioncamere).

 

Taormina (credits: Flickr /Gnuckx)

Taormina (credits: Flickr /Gnuckx)

7. The cultural and creative sector has created about 1.4 million jobs and Italy has filed more patents than both France and the United Kingdom (Italy ranks first, second or third in 22 out of 32 categories). In Europe, Italy is second only to Germany in terms of number of patents filed (source: Istat, Eurostat)

8. In Italy, the cultural and creative sector counts 443,458 companies (7.3 per cent of Italian SMEs), out of these firms, 96.4 per cent have less than 10 employees. Within this sector, Italy generates a turnover of approximately €80 billion (5.7 per cent of the total wealth produced) and employs 1,394,000 people. (source: I am culture – Italy quality and beauty defies crisis. Report 2014 Foundation Symbola and Unioncamere)

 

9. Italy is the number one destination of choice for tourists outside the Eurozone. In 2013, non-European tourists spent 56 million nights in accommodation throughout Italy (13 million nights more than Spain). In Europe, Italy is the first choice for Chinese tourists (2.8 million), South Koreans (750,000), Japanese (2.8 million), Brazilians (1.8 million), Australians (2.3 million), Americans (11.7 million) and Canadians (2 million) (Source: Unioncamere, the Edison Foundation and Fondazione Symbola, 10 truths about competitiveness Italian).

 

Italian wines at Vinitaly in Verona (credits: Flickr / Italian Embassy)

Italian wines at Vinitaly in Verona (credits: Flickr / Italian Embassy)

10. Italian food products rule the world markets. Despite counterfeiting and unfair competition, Italy remains a worldwide leading country for the production of food products. This is due to the fact that Italian agriculture has chosen to invest in the production of quality products and in many cases with an environmentally friendly approach. Italy has got 43,852 organic farming companies, which represent 17 per cent of the total organic farming companies in Europe, and it boasts the lowest number of products with chemical residues (only 0.2 per cent of products) in comparison to the European average of 1.9 per cent. (source: 10 Verità sulla competitività italiana – Focus sul settore agroalimentare di Fondazione Edison e Fondazione Symbola con Coldiretti)

Marco Belmondo

Marco Belmondo

Marco Belmondo born in Ivrea (Piedmont) in 1969. He has worked for Saatchi & Saatchi, In Adv/DGT Media, TradingLab, RBS, UniCredit Banca and Banca di Roma. In 2014 joined Epic (epic.it) where he is currently Head of Marketing.
Marco Belmondo