Italian companies ready for digital and green. But 41% do not think about PNR

Italian medium-sized companies will grow by 6.3% in 2022after a 19% rise in turnover in 2021. More than 60% plan to invest in 4.0 and green technologies in the next three years; 52% who have already done so expect to exceed pre-Covid production levels this year; 59% have already been activated or are preparing to take advantage of the growth opportunities arising from the PNR. This is the identikit of the centered Italian industrial enterprises centered XXI Report dedicated to them by Unioncamere, the Mediobanca Studies Area and the Tagliacarne Study Center presented in Rome. A universe of 3174 companies which the study defines as “leaders of change,” but whom it must address in the near future challenges such as generational change, focus on environmental and governance (ESG) objectives. and the supply chain transformations induced by global uncertainties and tensions.

Medium-sized companies and Pnrr, 59% acted

59% of medium-sized Italian companies focus on PNR: 40% have already activated projects to directly support entrepreneurial systems, while 19% plan to do so. However, there is another 41% who do not think they will benefit of the opportunities provided for in the Plan.

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It exists both internal and external factors which pushes more to take action. The former refer to human capital: up to 72% of medium-sized companies that andInvest in management training to innovate their business models has already moved (or plans to do so) in PNR projects, a percentage that drops to 46% for those who do not invest in managerial skills. This last concern the relationship with institutions and universitiesespecially when both actors are involved: 74% of medium-sized companies that maintain relations with both institutions and universities have already activated (or plan to do so) PNR projects, compared to just over 60% in cases in which relations are only entertained with institutions or only with universities and 52% in the event that the company does not collaborate with either subject.

The digital and green transition

52% of medium-sized companies that have invested in the double digital and green transition in the last five years expect to exceed pre-Covid production levels by 2022. A share that drops to 35% in the case of those who have invested only in digital and 31% for companies that have focused only on green, to 21% where no investment has been made in this direction. An element of competitiveness that medium-sized companies seem to know: in fact, more than 60% expect to invest in 4.0 and green technologies in the three-year period 2022-24, while only 15% expect to focus only on the digital transition and another 13% only on the green one.

Management and training play a key role also in terms of investments in the double transition where medium-sized family-run companies show a lower propensity than those of external managers (60% vs 66%). The gap, however, widens when the company invests in training family executives to innovate in business models.

Human capital and innovation

Technological advancement, attention to the environment, but aSocial sustainability also rewards medium-sized companies: 62% invest in business welfare, 61% involve their employees in innovation activities. (new processes, products and organizational methods of the company, etc.), 51% in the quality of human relations and 51% collaborate with the culture sector to increase the well-being of the territory.

Even just observing the behavior of the businesses they conduct co-innovation with its employeesIt turns out that those who encourage their participation in the development of innovative projects demonstrate a greater capacity for productive resilience: 48% expect to exceed pre-Covid levels by 2022, compared to 36% of those who do not adopt this initiative.

Almost all production in Italy

A peculiar aspect of medium-sized enterprises is the fact that wealth and employment occur mainly in Italy. 88.2% do not have a production site abroad and only 3% carry out more than 50% of the production in foreign plants. The issue of reshoring therefore seems irrelevant to these companies, which, on the other hand, are actively involved in global value chains: 88.8% use foreign suppliers, obtaining on average 25% of their supplies. Besides, the share of sales abroad is equal to 43.2% of turnover.

The actions achieved by medium-sized companies are even more favorable if we take into account that they have been achieved in a context that is not always favorable, the report emphasizes. In particular, the effective tax rate for medium-sized companies is now around 21.5% compared to 17.5% for large companies, but in the past the spread was even wider, exceeding 8 points in 2011. If in the last decade medium-sized companies had had the same tax pressure as large companies would have obtained more resources for 6.5 billion euros – a figure which, for example, would have allowed a higher volume of investments up to 10.6%. On the other hand, compared to foreign competitors, our medium-sized companies are perceived as disadvantaged precisely in terms of cost structure (50.5%), the efficiency of the Public Administration (30.2% ) and the quality of the country’s infrastructure equipment. (22%).

The future: Accelerate ESG and management skills

The multiple positive profiles of medium-sized companies should not elude the important challenges that remain on the ground. The need to align with ESG requirements returns the focus to governance: some good practices are still limited in circulation: the code of self-discipline is adopted by 35.3%, the presence of independent directors on the board is limited to 24.8%. The existence of a CEO outside the family occurs in 16.8% of cases and is associated with more advanced training (undergraduate or graduate in 71.2% of cases vs. 49.7% of the CEO of the family) and a younger age (55.6 years vs. 59.9). . In addition, under the pressure of the turmoil of the last two years, medium-sized companies give high priority to the introduction of new managerial skills (46.2%) and consider it necessary to accelerate the generational transition (33%).

Geopolitical uncertainty jeopardizes the continuity of supplies and medium-sized companies seek to address this through a combination of diversification in the number of suppliers (79.7%) and an increase in local suppliers (29.8%), including domestic ones (27.4%).

“Medium-sized Italian industrial companies are the backbone of Italian family capitalism, as the experience of the last 25 years shows. They can rightly be defined as the locomotive of our entrepreneurial system, which represent a factor of resilience and continuous modernization of the production system, thanks to a high investment capacity in the dual green and digital transition, with respect to which human capital represents month. important intangible asset, ”he said the president of Unioncamere, Andrea Prete.


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