Manufacturing companies look to the future and aim to grow


  • Optimism and growth prospects: seven out of ten companies are satisfied with their current performance and order portfolios. Revenue growth.
  • Expansion target: 81% aim to grow in size over the next two years
  • Transformation 4.0 and digitalization: more and more investments in digital (74%)
  • Evaluation of in-company competencies, essential for 51% of the companies
  • Sustainability in manufacturing: 39% of companies in the sector are on the path to sustainability


Milan, March 09, 2022 – Italian manufacturing companies confirm the positive trend in the sector that began last year. As noted by Istat, industrial production for the whole of 2021 has already grown by 11.8% from 2020, bringing GDP to 6.6%; a sign of a decisive, growth-oriented trend in 2021. The latest MECSPE Observatory (submitted?) by Senaf on the third quarter of 2021[1], an analysis exploring the health status of the industry in Italy, confirmed this trend. Despite a drop in confidence in the Italian political and economic background and the difficulty experienced by almost four companies out of ten in accessing raw materials, about seven companies out of ten consider themselves satisfied with the current trend, with order portfolios sufficient to maintain levels of financial sustainability (75%). Turnover also has also improved in 2021 compared to 2020 (for 72% of entrepreneurs), with two-thirds of the sample expecting further growth.


This wave of optimism is reflected in the decision of more than as many as 8 out of 10 companies to start growth over the next two years. Specifically, 31% would like to increase the size of the company, 23% intend to expand production into new sectors and 15% plan to focus on internationalization. With this in mind, even though for most enterprises (50%) the main sources of credit are already available own capital, for others, an important percentage (30%) these sources are through participation in public tenders, including European tenders. In contrast, one out of ten is considering new partners and 8% are considering funding.

Whilst looking to the future also means planning corporate strategies that involve extraordinary M&A (Merger and Acquisition) operations, evaluated as feasible by 41% of the sample, both in the short term, through corporate mergers and acquisitions (25%), as well as in the long term (17%).


To move along this growth trajectory for transformation 4.0 of Italian manufacturing companies, continued investment is necessary as well as further exploration of key technological innovations in the areas of digitalization, training and sustainability. These guidelines, fundamental for the expansion of the sector, will be the subject of many initiatives at the 20th edition of MECSPE, the exhibition dedicated to innovative technologies in the manufacturing industry that will take place in BolognaFiere between 9-11 June 2022.


Digitalization: businesses look to the NRP

Companies are increasingly interested in PNRR funds, (a large portion of which will be allocated to Italy in spring), but the level of knowledge about such opportunities remains low (only 15% are familiar with them). MECSPE plays an important role here as a bridge between institutions and manufacturing companies. Moreover, at the new expo in June, special attention will be devoted to the field of Competence Centers and Digital Innovation Hubs, in view of the new PNRR funding round. The Competence Centres will play an active role at MECSPE 2022 with their participation in the flagship initiative of the show; the MECSPE LIVE ACADEMY. After the positive experience of the last expo that brought them in closer contact with the manufacturing sector, despite the fact that still very few (9%) companies work with them.

Yet 74% have already gone down the road to digitalization and this is increasing (40% of companies), with growing investments in cybersecurity (41%), collaborative robotics (28%) and the Internet of Things (23%). Some special initiatives of MECSPE 2022 will be dedicated to these, such as the Simulation Summit, the first independent Italian conference on CAE simulation in the industrial field, and for the seventh consecutive year there will be the SolutionAward”, the Robotics Innovation Award to recognize the best industrial or service robotics application implemented by Italian companies.


Training: without skills there can be no growth

The MECSPE Observatory also confirms training as core to manufacturing, with 51% of companies identifying staff skills as essential to growth. Furthermore, 71% have already hired, trained or plan to integrate new staff members with appropriate skills to achieve transformation 4.0. This element alone is explored in depth at the MECSPE LIVE ACADEMY, the new lead initiative of MECSPE 2022, developed jointly by the companies and the Competence Centers; a space where everybody, including young people between 18 and 24, will be able to observe up close processes involving Machines, Additive Manufacturing, Automation and Robotics, and where the themes of design, digitalization, sustainability and light-weighting are explored.


Sustainability: increasingly responsible companies

Finally, in 2022 there can be no growth without sustainability. The whole industry is well aware of this, showing realism and responsibility. This is an uphill battle, but 39% of the companies responding to the MECSPE Observatory already consider themselves sustainable, thanks to specific actions, such as the use of low energy consumption devices, the purchase of new generation efficient machinery and/or systems and the installation of systems for the production of electric and thermal energy from renewable sources. Less satisfactory, however, is the level of knowledge of the environmental, social and governance criteria establishing new corporate stewardship and governance (ESG criteria). These are the parameters used to assess the impact of a business and will be increasingly decisive in attracting investment, as well as improving a company’s reputation. Yet only one in three companies (33%) has any knowledge of them. Therefore, it is important to draw comparisons between the actors in the sector in order to speed up the development of best practice in companies. To this end, the 2022 MECSPE will dedicate ample space to company strategies in adopting green policies with the ECOfriendly Path – “I do more”, and with the Area Progettazione e Design by Materioteca, dedicated to the theme of lightweight, considered as one of the basic elements of sustainability.

The area will showcase a selection of examples illustrating “designing light” strategies and how to limit the impacts on the ecosystem during product lifecycles.

The topic of sustainability will also be key at METEF, the International Expo, which, in conjunction with MECSPE, will promote aluminium production as a competitive and eco-sustainable form of advanced manufacturing.


For further information visit www.mecspe.com.

Facts and figures of the last edition of MECSPE

48,562 trade visitors, 92,000 square metres of exhibition space, 2 024 companies present, 2,000 square metres of the Cuore Mostra Fabbrica Senza Limiti, 46 special initiatives and conferences.

MECSPE Exhibitions

Machines and Tools – Machine tools, Equipment, Tools and Design Software; Machines, Materials and Sheet Metal  Working – Bending, Stamping, Cutting, Assembly, Welding, Materials and Software; Digital Factory – Industrial Informatics, IoT, Industrial Sensing, Cloud-manufacturing, Automatic Identification Technologies, Applications, Devices, Instrumentation and Intelligent Components for Process Interpretation and Interconnection; Logistics – Packaging, Packing, Handling, Material handling, Lean manufacturing, Warehouse management software, Supply chain management, Safety systems, PPE, Outsourcing; Mechanical Subcontracting – Precision mechanical processing, Metal carpentry, Mechanical construction, Fasteners, Foundries, Small parts, Wire processing, Contract industrial processing, Micromachining; Electronic subcontracting – Cem (contract electronics manufacturer), Wiring harnesses, Ems (electronics manufacturing service), PCB (printed circuit board manufacturers), Engineering and design offices; Eurostampi, Machines and plastic, rubber and composites subcontracting – Plastics, rubber and composites processing, Machines and plants, Auxiliary equipment, Innovative materials, Moulding, Extrusion, Packaging, Blowing, Moulds, Models, Standardised components for moulds, Design, Simulation and design software, Micromachining; Additive Manufacturing – 3D printing, Rapid prototyping, Rapid Manufacturing, Systems and services for reverse engineering, Additive technology, Materials, Services, Hardware: 3D printers and scanners, accessories, Simulation and design software; Treatments and Finishes – Surface Treatment Plants, Furnaces, Electroplating, Chemical and Electronic Processes, Washing, Metallization, Enameling, Galvanizing, Products and accessories for treatments, Heat Treatments, Painting; Non-Ferrous Materials and Alloys – Processing of non-ferrous materials (Aluminum, Titanium, Magnesium, Light Alloys), Die Castings, Foundries, Contract Industrial Processing, Technologies, Design, Engineering; Automation and Robotics – Automation and Robotics, Assembly, Assembly and Handling; Control and Quality – Certification and quality control, Metrology, Measuring instruments, Laboratory testing, Calibration, Analytical equipment, Vision; Power Drive – Mechanical power transmission devices, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, Mechatronics, Motion control, Maintenance, Compressed air.


For further information

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[1]Methodological note: The MECSPE Observatory was conducted by GRS Ricerca e Strategia (research and strategy) on a sample of 980 Italian manufacturing companies, using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interviewing) method.