"L’evoluzione del sistema manifatturiero marchigiano": relazione al Forum UNESCO

Tre giornate da ricordare

La Fondazione Aristide Merloni ha accolto i delegati UNESCO nella prima giornata del Forum “Città industriale città creativa” che ha avuto luogo a Fabriano dal 4 al 6 settembre. Dopo la visita alla Fondazione G.Fedrigoni, Istituto Europeo della Storia della Carta e delle Scienze Cartarie (ISTOCARTA), presso l’Archivio Storico delle Cartiere Miliani, sono subito iniziati i lavori presso il Ridotto del Teatro Gentile.

Grazie ai prestigiosi interventi le città creative ospiti del Forum, hanno potuto verificare la vivace realtà produttiva del nostro territorio.

Il professor Donato Iacobucci, coordinatore della Fondazione Aristide Merloni, ha moderato i lavori dell’incontro tra le Città Creative UNESCO e le industrie del territorio fabrianese, svoltosi il 4 settembre presso il Ridotto del Teatro Gentile. Di seguito, la sua presentazione dedicata all’evoluzione del settore manifatturiero delle Marche, alla sua evoluzione e alle sue prospettive future.


The manufacturing system of the Marche region: evolution and future prospects

Donato Iacobucci

Università Politecnica delle Marche

Fondazione Aristide Merloni

The Marche region experienced a process of very fast industrialization during the second half of the last century. In about a generation (from 1951 to 1981) the Marche transformed itself from an agricultural region to one of the highly industrialized regions in Italy and in Europe.

The Merloni Fondation was set up in the middle of such process (in 1963) with the aim of sustaining new entrepreneurial activities in the area of Fabriano by providing financial and managerial services. During the seventies the manufacturing activities in the Fabriano area (and in the overall region) were well developed and the Merloni Foundation changed its mission towards economic and social research with the aim of understanding the factors explaining the economic success of the region and, above all, indicate the roads for future development.

In a famous conference that the Foundation organized at the end of the seventies it created the ‘slogan’ of the “Adriatic way of development”.

What were the main features of this model:

  1. The prevalence of small and medium sized firms, which were set up by local entrepreneurs. They were not operating individually but were organized in industrial districts (specialized clusters)
  2. A high degree of internationalization (mainly based on export at the beginning) but that is now assuming new forms (as we will hear from our guests)
  3. The spreading of manufacturing activities over the territory, thus avoiding population migration and urban congestion

This last characteristic is particularly true in the case of the Marche region, which is the region with the highest share of its territory covered by manufacturing systems.

The in which the manufacturing system of Marche is specialized are those typical of the ‘made in Italy” productions: clothing and footwear, textile and furniture, food, household appliances and machinery and equipment for the production of such goods.

Thanks to the above mentioned characteristics, after fifty years of development the Marche still retains its strong manufacturing base. I do not have time to illustrate the situation of our industry and the transformations which are occurring1. I will just mention a few aspects that in my opinion are crucial for the future prospects of the manufacturing system of the region.

In the last century the key factor behind the Marche miracle was ‘entrepreneurship’, i.e. the willingness of people to engage in economic activity and take financial and personal risks.

For the future, entrepreneurship remains crucial but there are other key aspects: creativity and innovation, i.e. the ability of people and organizations to generate and apply new ideas. I am not referring only to technological innovations but innovations in all aspects of production and distribution, and of the social life in general.

This does not imply that in the past firms did not innovate. The question is that the manufacturing system needs to change the innovation model.

A few centuries ago Adam Smith associated innovation to specialization. This is true for incremental innovation, i.e. the little and continuous improvements of products and processes. This mode of innovation, based on learning by doing and interactions with other firms along the production chain (customers and supplier) is at the base of the innovation processes in specialized local clusters (industrial districts).

However, the recent literature on innovation show that radical innovations are the result of variety rather than specialization. The variety of production activity within an area is fundamental to produce the cross-fertilization of ideas that come from the interaction of people with different knowledge, experience and culture. This refers not only to firms, but also to the contamination processes of people working in different institutions, such as universities and public institutions.

In general, large cities are considered the best context for variety, contamination and creativity. In the Marche region there are no large cities but a network of small towns.

My confidence on the future prospects of the Marche region comes from the fact that the region have all the ingredients to stimulate the creativity of people: the variety, in term of sector of activity, size of firms entrepreneurial models, etc., and, above all, the long standing tradition in manufacturing activities of our artisans and a huge cultural heritage.

Leveraging on these resources to promote social and economic development requires to address two main challenges:

  • Strengthening the relations between firms, universities and public institutions; their willingness and ability to collaborate in designing growth strategies and working together in specific projects
  • Increasing the capacity of institutions and firms to get ideas and resources from outside the region.

I think that the activities and ideas that comes from the network of creative cities may be an important step in this direction. For both these challenges the recognition of Fabriano as a creative cities and the activities of this network of creative cities may provide important ideas and stimuli.

In the workshop of this afternoon we will hear on how the challenge of innovation and creativity is addressed by our entrepreneurs and firms, from small, artisan firms to large multinationals.

For organizational reason, the meeting is organized in two moments. We will first hear the representatives of small firms: artisans, commercial and agricultural companies. In the second part we will hear from some of the largest firms of the region.

In both cases we will start with people involved in paper production, which (as you know) represents one of the oldest productions of Fabriano.





Fondazione Aristide Merloni

Coordina : Donato Iacobucci

con la partecipazione di Emanuela Bora, assessore Att.produttive, Regione Marche

15.30 – 17.00 dalla millenaria esperienza artigiana alla capacità d’impresa:

CGIA : la carta, Sandro Tiberi

CNA: la meccanica, Mauro Cucco e Rodolfo Alcool titolare di Metaldesi

ConfCommercio : l’agroalimentare, Piergiorgio Angelini

Coldiretti: Emanuele Befanucci, presidente provinciale AN

Vincenzo Spinosi, presidente Spinosi srl

17.00 – 18.30 il design, la creatività

Le imprese del territorio si presentano

Ariston Thermo Group, Luca Mezzopera, Group Human Resources and Organization Director

Elica, Gianguido Cerullo, vice presidente Go to Market di Elica

Fedrigoni Group, Claudio Alfonsi, Amministratore Delegato

Whirpool, Alessandro Magnoni, senior Director Communication and Government


1 See : Donato Iacobucci, “Trasformazioni e prospettive dei distretti industriali nelle Marche”, in I nuovi distretti industriali, a cura di Marco Bellandi e Annalisa Caloffi, il Mulino, Bologna 2014


The manifacturing system of the Marche region

Traduzione relazione Donato Iacobucci – Forum UNESCO Fabriano 2015