Doing Businessin Italy

Italian Market Insights

The Covid-19 pandemic has created a new set of challenges for the Italian market.

Enterprise Ireland is responding to the global crisis by working with Irish exporters to help them avail of business response supports announced by the Government. These supports are designed to help businesses stabilise and adapt to the evolving situation, in preparation for getting back on the road to recovery.

Market Overview

Italy has a diversified industrial economy. This can be divided into the developed industrial north, where Milan, the business capital of Italy is located, and a highly subsidised agricultural south. It is the third-largest economy in the Eurozone and the fifth largest market in Europe for Irish exports.

Despite its economic challenges, it still offers substantial opportunities and continues to deliver major deals for Irish companies. With an economy of €2.24 trillion and a national wealth of almost €10 trillion, Italy is a very wealthy country and accounts of 3.33% of the net wealth globally in 2018.

€26,973 GDP per capita (2020)

€430.6m in client exports in 2020

8th Largest Economy in the World

Get Export Ready

In recent years, Enterprise Ireland has witnessed an increase of nearly 50% in the number of Irish companies with a direct presence in the Italian market. Irish companies focusing on innovation and providing niche products are likely to find gaps in the market that might not have been apparent before. A number of key sectors have been identified as offering the greatest export opportunities. These include digital technologies, life sciences, engineering, and agritech.

Key Market Sectors

As Brexit plans progress, Irish businesses are exploring export options in sectors across the Eurozone markets, the USA and Canada, the APAC region and the ASEAN.

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in Italy’s life sciences, traveltech, financial (fintech) and ICT sectors.

Additionally, engineering, aviation telecoms, cleantech and biotech continue to perform and add appeal to Irish exporters and service providers who want to scale and develop a presence in the Italian market.

Read more on Italy’s sectoral successes in our Going Global Guide.

  • The Italian Biotech industry is the fourth largest in Europe
  • With a workforce of over 50,000 the Italian aerospace industry ranks seventh in the world
  • 4th largest pharma industry in Europe.

Doing Business

Personal presentation matters enormously in Italian business culture. The image you project includes your manner of dress and how you comport yourself too. Equally marketing materials must also look sharp.

Working hours in Italy vary widely by sector and geography. August remains the main holiday period, making it unwise to arrange meetings for this period.

Italians enjoy talking and debate, and consequently meetings can take longer. Organise your presentations with this in mind – don’t leave the meat of your presentation until last as you may not get to show it.

Best Routes to Market

Choosing the right route to market is very important.

Agents bring a deep understanding of local business practices and distributors can deliver products geographically across large nations. Joint ventures and acquisitions bring valuable established contacts, customers and market knowledge. Local representatives may not always be necessary with many global markets open to direct sales and prospecting from Ireland. Other markets require a ‘boots on the ground’ approach – the power of referrals and networking shouldn’t be underestimated. The key routes to market in Italy are local agents and distributors, regular face-to-face meetings, local market presence and joint ventures. Download our Going Global Guide to Italy to find out more.

Before You Go

Before you go, we recommend you invest some time in researching the terrain before you explore the Italian market. Here’s a few starting points to consider…

  1. Market Landscape
  2. Market Trends
  3. Target Market
  4. Market Segmentation
  5. Market Competition
  6. Market Research Resources

Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers client companies access to market intelligence in the form of company, sector, market, and country information to explore opportunities and compete in international markets.

Helping You Succeed

We are committed to helping you succeed in global markets and have an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Italian market.

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new markets with pre-visit support, in-market support, international trade events, additional supports and access to mentors.

Click here to download our guide to Going Global in Italy.

Our Market Advisors are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.


Alessio Nori
Senior Market Advisor
Tel: +39 02 880 099 227

John Roche
Director Italy
Tel: +39 348 783 5500

Enterprise Ireland Milan Office
Via Edmondo de Amicis 53
20123 Milano

+39 02 880 0991