Despite the global post-September 11 downturn in direct investment flows, Italy’s Lazio is one region that has managed to maintain significant inflows of FDI from an impressive list of foreign investors. Academic research published last month gives a good indication of what is attracting foreign investors of all sizes to the central Italian region surrounding the country’s capital:

  • good human resources;
  • excellent quality of life;
  • a large and sophisticated commercial marketplace;
  • excellent links to universities and research centres.

Saro Munafň, vice-president of Sviluppo Lazio and responsible for the international marketing of the region, is pleased with both the quantity and quality of recent foreign investment projects, worth €950m.

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Confidence in Lazio has already been boosted by Sviluppo Lazio’s successful international marketing programme for 2002-2004, which has far outstripped initial forecasts in terms of results. Mr Munafň says: “Our region has confirmed its leadership in Italy, with 496 foreign enterprises operating in the region and 195 foreign plants.”

It is estimated that the investment projects currently under way will create about 10,845 jobs. “Negotiations are also under way regarding four formal expressions of interest on the part of US investors for investments worth over €200m,” says Mr Munafň

Mounting evidence

Investor confidence in the region is confirmed by recent research presented by Professor Matteo Caroli from the Luiss University in Rome and conducted by Sviluppo Lazio’s new Permanent Monitoring Unit.

Research was based on a sample of 40 international enterprises based in the region. Overall, foreign investors operating in the pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors were most positive.

According to the sample, investors in Lazio have a particularly positive view of the region’s human resources (about 18% of Lazio’s adult population holds a university degree.) The study showed that, although medium-sized companies remain more concerned with the cost of labour, large and small companies place greater importance on the quality of the labour force. Also highlighted was the importance that larger companies place on the high quality of life, whereas smaller companies are more attracted by the size of the market place. (Not only is Lazio Italy’s third most populated region, per capita incomes are 13% higher than the national average.)

The research confirms that companies value the potential for productive relationships with the region’s universities and research institutes. Another positive perception of the region is its central location and good logistics.

However, the local government is not resting on its laurels but is also investigating negative corporate viewpoints. For example, the survey highlighted areas where there is room for improvement, such as relations with the public administration and the need for greater infrastructure development.

Important feedback

This attempt to increase understanding of investors’ requirements is vitally important for Lazio’s government. Research and investor feedback will play a key role in developing the region’s economic future as Sviluppo Lazio works to identify suitable joint projects between the regional authorities, their agencies and international corporations.

Building on the success of recent years, Lazio’s regional government is now concentrating on sourcing significant levels of FDI into three key sectors credited with transforming the region’s economy: tourism, logistics and new technologies.

The tourist industry is already one of the foundation stones of the national economy. Italy attracts a vast number of visitors each year, who are drawn by the sites of ancient Rome and its stunning surrounding countryside. Lazio accounts for about one-third of all tourist activity in Italy. However, there is substantial growth in eco-tourism in the region, thanks to large, specially-designated nature zones. And there is also quantifiable growth in gastronomic tourism, business travel and the conference sector.

Against the enormity of Rome’s artistic and cultural heritage, the region plans to establish a region-wide tourism strategy. The regional government has begun early discussions on building a new international museum on the outskirts of Rome.

Foreign investors attracted by large-scale projects in the leisure and tourism sector have already found that there are major opportunities in Lazio.

Foreign investors are also finding opportunities in Lazio’s fast-changing logistics sector. The sector is making an increasingly large impact on the regional economy, accounting for a significant reorganisation of land use as logistics becomes an important economic sector in its own right. Heavy investment by the regional, national and EU authorities make this another sector likely to experience rapid growth in the next five to 10 years.

The region has become an important centre for an increasing number of businesses involved with advanced technologies, in particular electronics, computer science and communications networks management. The advanced service industry, based on new multimedia and digital technologies, is now the fastest-growing sector in terms of revenue and job creation.

Lazio is a major hub for new economy companies. For example, the largest service providers (including fixed-line, mobile and satellite companies) and information providers (for example multimedia publishers, foreign and national television stations) have chosen to locate in Lazio. Even outside Rome, cities such as Anagni and Ceprano in the Lazio province of Rieti are home to leading electrical engineering, telecommunications and computer firms.

Tech advances

Sviluppo Lazio’s latest strategy objectives, designed to attract increased levels of foreign investment into the region, were presented at a conference in Rome on December 6. The conference, Lazio and Multinational Corporations: Scenarios, Synergies and Growth, was attended by some of the largest investors in the region, including Bridgestone, Siemens, Patheon, Baxter and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

At the conference, the development company unveiled its new database unit, charged with systematically monitoring all foreign investment projects, capacity and opportunities for investment in the region. The database will go live in the next few weeks. “Our objectives are to develop our capacity to systematically monitor the presence of foreign companies and increase our ability to convince people that we can compete in quality of work, services and life. We are growing, and we have the ability to play the game well – and to win,” says Mr Munafň

Lazio’s new monitoring unit will track all FDI in the region and help to inform government decision-makers, companies interested in participating in the region’s economy and academics looking for investors capable of commercialising ground-breaking technologies.

Other recent initiatives by Sviluppo Lazio include the creation of an advisory board composed of leading international consultancy firms Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Value Partners.

In the high-tech sector, Sviluppo Lazio’s recently launched Match databank will help high-tech investors to find qualified professionals, who are classified by academic training, experience, research activities and other skills, such as languages. The prototype databank will be launched in February and an online version is expected to go live by the end of March. Investors will be able to identify existing research projects that are relevant and the professionals who have worked on them.

The Match database – together with Speedy, an advanced consultancy for investment projects operating in the region, and Finance, which provides innovative financial solutions for investment projects – will provide data to match investors with the region’s relevant resources of excellence.

Speaking at the investment conference in Rome, Lazio’s finance minister, Andrea Augello, told investors and corporate leaders that the region’s future looked “brighter than ever considering the list of achievements so far, the fruitful investment of structural funds and the competence of Sviluppo Lazio”.

He continued: “To date we have tried to shift attention towards measurable facts. Despite old claims that enterprises are fleeing Lazio, we can speak of a very different reality. We are proving that it is possible to achieve great results in this field in two years of work, giving the region a new and more attractive profile for direct investments from abroad. We have to thank Sviluppo Lazio for this.”

 

 

MAJOR PLAYERS IN LAZIO

 

Foreign investors include:

  • auto group DaimlerChrysler
  • pharmaceutical group Pfizer
  • Mundo Aquatico, a leading Portuguese oceanarium
  • the UK’s Retail & Leisure Investment
  • high-tech aerospace and defence company Seicos
  • dry cleaning equipment company Donini
  • insurance and real estate company Aig/Lincoln

 

 

DON’T MISS IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS:

The International Forum : Territories in the new world market

February 17-18, 2005

Rome, Palazzo Colonna

The Region of Lazio and Sviluppo Lazio (Lazio Development Agency) make their annual presentation of experiences and results marking international developments in territorial marketing. The Forum, starting on Thursday, February 17 in the prestigious Gallery of Palazzo Colonna, offers two days of discussion and presentation of success stories. Territorial marketing requires flexibility and continuous change and so the Forum’s objective is to compare important experiences and emerging realities, represented by some of the most prominent figures in local development.

MIPIM

March 8-11 2005 ,

Cannes, Palais des Festival, stand 02.33

If quality is a priority, come to Lazio! The Lazio Region’s economy continues to expand. Discover business opportunities in the heart of Italy and take advantage of our competitive edge.