Italy (with a population of 61 million inhabitants) is a democratic Republic and is the fourth largest European economy. The Italian economy is characterized by a large number of SMEs and micro firms and to a large extent it consists of low knowledge-intensity sectors – for example, footwear, textiles and clothing and mainstream manufacturing industries such as fabricated metal products, domestic appliances and bicycles. However, Italy also has some specializations in technology-intensive sectors such as machinery, automotive and aerospace.
Italy is recognized for the quality of the goods it produces. The “made in Italy” brand remains a valuable one worldwide, particularly for high-end goods but when it comes to more innovation-led sectors, Italy’s entrepreneurs are falling behind their peers in other countries. However, Italy scores above the EU average for innovative SMEs introducing marketing, organizational and product or process innovations.
Italian industry clusters have been concentrated in the low-tech and medium-tech sectors but new clusters are emerging in aerospace, biotechnologies (highly concentrated in the Lombardia region, Milan being the capital city of this region), renewable energies and mechatronics (in close collaboration with automotive and transports in general).
Italy is unmistakably a place of cultural achievement and historical pride. Italian culture permeates every aspect of life and, as a result, for those hoping to successfully break or enter the Italian business market, an understanding of this culture is a vital tool.