When innovation rhymes with SMEs

Borsa Italiana - 3 march 2020

Innovating to meet market’s needs is a must for all businesses. And also in this case, Italian SMEs are a feather in the cap.

Italy and innovation: paraphrasing a famous Italian song, we can say that “more ca be done”. The ranking of global innovators presented by the Consumer Technology Association in the 2019 Ces in Las Vegas, a global event, shows Italy in the 25th place. Our country is defined as in Innovation Leader, just one step down from Innovation Champions, the most innovative countries. A good result, then, but not the best attainable.

The Assirm Innovation Index - an index which allows to compare 11 countries in Europe on innovation, devised by Assirm, an association comprising the main Italian market research companies - shows a more positive result: starting from 2014, Italy shows a positive growth trend as far as innovation dynamics are concerned, with a particularly positive uptick in the second half of 2016, though followed by a slowdown in 2018.

SMEs, an economic engine

This trend is also due to the role of small and medium-sized enterprises, which have always been the beating heart of the Italian economic fabric, which boast numerous highly innovative companies.

This is confirmed by the Grant Thornton and University of Pisa's Innovative SMEs Observatory, which shows an increase of 38% in the number of innovative SMEs registered in 2019 in the Register of Companies published annually by the Ministry of Economic Development (in September 2019 these companies reached 1,226), with a clear prevalence of the services sector (70.83%), followed by the industry / crafts sector (20.60%), without forgetting consultancy firms (6.7%).

But the overall number still appears limited compared to the potential basin. To help these companies, many of which are micro-enterprises that struggle to grow on a dimensional level, Unicredit and Bei-European Investment Bank have allocated 400 million with the aim of supporting their development and thus increasing the innovation rate of small and medium Italian industry.