Chemical industry in Italy is characterized by the well balanced presence of three different actors, all of them playing a very important role: Italian SMEs (38% of total chemical production value), medium-large Italian groups (24%) and foreign capital companies (38%).
Italian chemical industry is concentrated in Northern Italy (78% of chemicals employment) , close to downstream European markets and local customer companies.
In particular, Lombardy has Europe’s second-biggest chemicals cluster and is home to 31% of Italy’s chemical firms, 41% of jobs and 46% of chemicals turnover.
Chemical industry in Lombardy has different features from other European region with strong chemicals presence: production is not concentrated in a handful of highly integrated sites, but across a network of foreign multinationals, Italian medium and large groups and local SMEs, which account for 54% of chemicals employment, far above the European average.
In effect, Lombardy firms focus on chemical sub-sectors where the average size of firms is lower because scale economies are not so relevant and the key of success often consists in offering to customers tailor made products: detergents and cosmetics, specialty chemicals and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
These companies can benefit from the presence of major universities and research centres, able to develop research and put scientists to work on industry-oriented projects.