Why invest in Emilia Romagna
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Why invest in Emilia Romagna

A number of reasons to invest

Therea are a number of reason why a foreing enterprise should invest in (Italian Regione) Emilia Romagna. This article is writter in order to describe some of the Region assets, and in particular to provide an overview of the territory, key sectors, logistic, support to new investments, necessary steps to set up a company. Most of the information provided are taken from the Regions Emilia Romagna web sites.

Overview of the Region territory

Emilia-Romagna is a region open to new foreign investments, whose development model has been able to combine economic competitiveness with a high level of social cohesion and an enviable quality of life. With a world-class business and innovation ecosystem, top level supply and value chains, a business-oriented public administration granting support and incentives to investors, excellent locations and an international mindset: Emilia-Romagna is just the perfect place to invest in!

Population: 4.5 milion Inhabitants

Governance: 1 Region, 1 Metropolitan city (Bologna), 328 municipalities with 8 main cities (Ferrara, Forlì-Cesena, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Ravenna, Reggio Emilia, Rimini).

A region of wellbeing

  • BEAUTY: Plenty of UNESCO Sites, with porticoes of Bologna awarded as new world heritage site in 2021
  • INCLUSION: Lower social exclusion rate than in Italy and Europe
  • QUALITY OF LIFE: Higher employment and GDP per capita than in Italy and Europe; strong cultural offer

A well connected region

  • TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURES: In strategic position connecting Northern Europe and Mediterranean area
  • DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES: Top smart cities, broadband connection and Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) higher than the national average

A region of knowledge and research

  • RESEARCH AND INNOVATION: 1st region in Italy for innovation according to the Regional Innovation Scoreboard 2021 (European Commission)
  • EDUCATION: Oldest University in Western Europe strongly oriented towards Industry 4.0 and innovation
  • INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM: With a unique High Technology Network integrated in Clusters and Technopoles
  • BIG DATA VALLEY: A top world hub for supercomputers and data centres

A sustainable region: Regional Pact for Labour and Climate 2020: a shared overall strategy up to 2030 for a regional sustainable development in the environmental, social and economic dimensions.

A competitive and international Region:

  • ECONOMY: Strong manufacturing sector with 26.9% of total employees, being 20.7% the Italian average and 18.4% the European one
  • INTERNATIONALISATION: 1st Italian region for export per capita
  • ATTRACTIVENESS: Open region with strong incentives for new investments, 7th European Large region for FDI Strategy according to FDI Intelligence division of the Financial Times

Key Sectors

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is the main regional cluster – spread all over the region – and supports all the other regional key sectors, especially Agrifood (e.g. agricultural machineries, food packaging); Housing (e.g. machinery for building and ceramics); Health Care (e.g. electro-medical equipment, packaging).

Food Valley

The Emilia-Romagna agri-food system encompasses a unique heritage made of tradition and excellent quality, characterized by an approach strongly oriented towards research and innovation, environmental sustainability and food safety.


The regional companies in the building and construction industry have become international leaders in terms of product quality and design innovation and are at the cutting-edge as regards research into materials and production technologies.

Exports of regional tiles and ceramics are worth 93% of the national total. The Italian ceramics industry is concentrated between the provinces of Modena and Reggio Emilia – the Sassuolo district, with 135 companies, almost 20 thousand employees, turnover of 5.3 billion euros – and also in Faenza (Ravenna) and Imola (Bologna).

The region is also home to the Italian companies operating in the production of machines and systems for the ceramics industry as well as in a series of related production areas, including earth moving machinery, cranes and hoisting equipment, and in the production of building material.

Production of high quality furniture and furnishings is another excellence with larger concentration in Forlì (upholstered furniture district), Rimini and Imola.

Green economy

Emilia-Romagna has a strong presence of companies oriented towards sustainable business, that cover a wide range of sectors, with a presence in the main regional clusters, including firms in traditional environmental sectors such as waste or water and also those ones that, regardless of the productive sector, act in a greener way.


The fashion production chain – divided into textiles-clothing, footwear and accessories – is based on the presence of a large number of small companies either working for third parties or on niche productions, characterized by technical and manual skills of the highest quality. At the same time, there are also very well-known brands such as Max Mara, Liu Jo, Pinko, Twin-Set, Furla, Piquadro, which have production plants and design centres in Emilia-Romagna.

Culture and Creativity

The cultural and creative industries in Emilia-Romagna play a key role in the development and quality of life of the local community. The production sectors involved cover cultural and artistic enterprises, the media and cultural industries, multimedia and ICT creative services, artistic hand-made products. In a more general sense, they also comprise the economics of creativity concerning high-tech innovative companies, the fashion industry, furniture and all other products connected with design.

The region boasts a strong offer of cultural festivals ranging from classical and electronic music to theatre and movies. Emilia-Romagna is also well known at global level for excellences such as the Cineteca – Centre for audiovisual development and technological innovation with top skills in restoration. The Fellini Museum in Rimini is the largest ever named after a film director.


Strategic position

The Emilia-Romagna region is a bridge: it is at the crossroads of the communication routes connecting Northern Europe with Adriatic and Mediterranean countries. The regional logistics system for handling freight is one of the most advanced in Italy, a major road and railway junction between Northern and Central-Southern Italy.

Access to markets:

  • 1st Italian region for export per capita (2021)
  • Export-oriented – Exports (72.4 billion euros in 2021) much higher than imports (42.5 billion euros)
  • Main countries for export in 2021 are: USA, Germany, France, Spain, UK, China, Poland, Japan, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, …


Crosses the region from southeast to northwest and is surrounded by a high concentration of businesses and logistics hubs.


The intercontinental “Guglielmo Marconi” Airport of Bologna (the region’s main air transport hub), “Federico Fellini” Airport of Rimini, “Giuseppe Verdi” Airport of Parma.


Interporto Bologna and Parma CEPIM. Main Freight Terminals: Piacenza, Dinazzano, (RE), Rubiera (RE), Marzaglia (Modena), Villa Selva (Forlì), Ravenna.


From Bologna to: Turin – 2:19h, Milan – 1:04h, Florence – 0:37h, Rome – 2:03h, Naples – 3:25h. Main rail companies are Trenitalia, ItaloTreno and Ferrovie Emilia-Romagna.

Support to new Investments


The regional strategy focuses on: innovation (R&D investments and facilities), creation of qualified employment, Integration with the regional supply and value chains.

The regional Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) aims at supporting research and innovation connecting the production and the knowledge systems and identifying the main priorities.

Overall objectives include also ecologic and digital transition and have been shared in the Pact for Labour and Climate.

Regional incentives available for foreign companies

Emilia-Romagna has a specific law to promote investments with incentives available also for foreign companies

RESULTS OF THE REGIONAL LAW 14/2014 FOR THE PROMOTION OF INVESTMENTS (UPDATED 30/06/2022) – 5 CALLS 2016 – 2017 – 2019 – 2020 – 2021

  1. investment programs: 76
  2. companies: 67
  3. new jobs: 2,955 % of graduated 55%
  4. R&D Centres: 18

Amount of investments (million euros) 340

Amount of public grants (million euros) 123

Agreement for the settlement and development of enterprises

The main tool provided by the regional law for the promotion of investments is the Agreement for the Settlement and Development of Enterprises

National incentives

There are many other opportunities from national plans.

The INNOVATION AGREEMENT aim at financing large investments considered strategic for the regional economic system.

The DEVELOPMENT CONTRACT supports large investments in the sectors of manufacturing, tourism and environmental protection. A fast-track procedure is provided (DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT) for highly strategic investments with strong impact on the production system.

Invest in Emilia-Romagna contact point provides support to apply for large strategic investments.

More information available on Invest in Italy: https://www.ice.it/en/invest/investment-incentives


  • investments: over 110
  • Total amount of investments (billion euros) about 1.8
  • new jobs: over 2,200

Steps to set up a company

Emilia-Romagna Region promotes simplification, transparency and legality to ensure effective and reliable governance, together with easy and fast procedures for businesses and citizens.

Main steps


Main company models offered by the Italian law:

  • Company of persons (simple partnership, general partnership, limited partnership);
  • Capital companies (joint stock company; limited liability company; share company);

Cooperative companies.


Directly in the Italian territory at low set-up and management costs, without being subject to income tax.

It can be used only the following purposes: storage, display or delivery of goods or services belonging to the foreign company; purchase of goods or services, information gathering, scientific or market research for the foreign company; performance of activities that are preparatory and auxiliary to those of the foreign company.


It is subject to normal Italian business taxation, obliged to keep account books, VAT records and file the annual financial statements of the foreign company. The branch office of a foreign company is subject to the same obligations as an Italian company as far as the publication of financial statements and other company documents are concerned.


At national level, all the procedures required to register a company are processed electronically in a ‘Single Communication procedure’ that allows applicants to start their business activities on the same day. The procedure is valid for tax, social security and insurance purposes. After digital signature, it has to be submitted to the Business Registry Office of the territorial Chamber of Commerce.


The regional network of “One Stop Shop for Productive Activities” (SUAP: Sportello Unico per le Attività Produttive) assists businesses by providing a single online procedure to obtain authorisations and licences required to start a business, concerning health, safety, environmental protection, pollution and urban planning. The SUAP desks are widespread on the whole territory, aim to simplify bureaucracy and provide certain timeframes to complete the procedures.

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