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Focus on Industry: Competitiveness and the new industrial triangle

Venice, 11/10/2019 - 13/10/2019, Aspen Seminars for Leaders

The new industrial triangle (Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli) is currently one of the European continent’s most dynamic drivers behind growth in GDP, exports and value added manufacturing. A performance made possible by an intersection of business, universities and public administration anchored to major technological and research platforms. The data are gratifying but, at the same time, they raise questions. In a country characterized by such exasperated dualism, it becomes urgent to understand how the new industrial triangle can bring the rest of the country with it. The answer cannot discount the importance of cooperation involving institutions, society, and the economy or the role of intermediary bodies.

The debate on the divergences between various areas of the country arises from the debate over regional autonomies. It is no accident that the three regions of the new industrial triangle are the same ones pushing for greater autonomy. Nearly two years after the referendum in Lombardy and Veneto, proposals are being drafted for the transfer of authority to the regions – a sometimes less than transparent process not always correctly interpreted by public opinion that risks being transformed into a federalism of malcontent. On the other hand, regional autonomies cannot but be conceived within a national legislative and institutional framework.

There are three key concerns that must never be left out of the industrial seminar: The fundamental role of an up to date education capable of responding to present and future challenges; the importance of investing in innovation, understood this time as sustainability – a sustainability understood not as a marketing tool but as an integral part of a firm’s ability to compete over the medium term; and finally, how important a company’s size is to meeting the challenge of competitiveness – the maxim that ‘good things come in small packages’ loses validity in the face of a global competition dominated by giants.

Time and space offer the essential coordinates by which to locate the debate:  A time that cannot be the fleeting one of financial or electoral cycles, but that medium to long term one of factories and investments in innovation; and a space that cannot be detached from the European context, a context not only legislative and institutional but also and increasingly political and proactive.