Développement économique et création locale d’emplois (LEED)

Boosting local entrepreneurship and enterprise creation in Lombardy region (Italy) - 2012


 A joint project of the OECD LEED Programme, Unioncamere Lombardia and Regione Lombardia (Italy)


Within the framework of the OECD LEED Reviews on boosting local entrepreneurship and enterprise creation


Objective / Issues / Method / Outputs / Contact



Entrepreneurship and the development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) are key drivers of economic growth and job creation. The OECD review series on Boosting local entrepreneurship and enterprise creation, of which this study is a part, examines the capacity of local economies to support successful new enterprise creation and the growth of small enterprises and make recommendations on how this capacity can be enhanced through local policies.

The reviews entail an assessment of entrepreneurship and SME performance at the local level, the local framework conditions affecting this performance and the policies in place to back entrepreneurship and SME development. The reviews involve a comprehensive examination of conditions and policies including the key domains of skills, financing, regulations, business support infrastructure and innovation.

The key objectives are to:

  • Analyse local framework conditions for new enterprise creation and SME development in Lombardy region;
  • Assess policies undertaken in the region to develop entrepreneurial people, new enterprise creation and healthy SME development; and
  • Contribute to policy development in the region by proposing policy options to overcome barriers and realise potentials.

This review aimed to provide, from an international perspective, advice on policies to strengthen and restructure the business environment for SMEs in the Lombardy region following the EU framework of the Small Business Act


Issues to be addressed

A particular emphasis was put on the following key issues:


Entrepreneurship skills: Success in enterprise creation is underpinned by a comprehensive set of skills and competencies among entrepreneurs, including strategic skills, small business management skills and entrepreneurial traits. Entrepreneurship training is a rapidly developing policy field with strong potential for learning from other areas, but it is important to focus on the real needs of entrepreneurs, which extend well beyond traditional business planning and accounting skills.


SME workforce skills: Skills upgrading is also crucial for existing SMEs, where workers have more limited access to training than those in large firms, which reduces enterprise productivity, innovation and competitiveness. Skills development is even more important in social enterprises, where social goals are twinned with profit goals and where people are not always familiar with business management principles. 


Business support framework: The right business support infrastructure endowment, including the presence of incubators, hubs, and science parks, and a diversified set of business development services are important for effective public entrepreneurship support. However, business support is often unnecessarily fragmented, leading to lack of visibility and difficulties in reaching enterprises and lack of co-ordination and synergies. This can be addressed with appropriate policy structures.


Finance: Working capital and investment finance is critical to the creation, survival and growth of enterprises, whether they are in the private or social economy sectors. A wide range of financing options is available, tailored to different needs by company type, sector, stage of growth and finance portfolio.  Arbitrage is insufficient, however, and finance markets are often insufficiently developed at local level. Effective policy needs to overcome obstacles in all of these areas. 


Knowledge networks: In an economy increasingly characterised by open innovation methods, the performance of new firm start ups and SMEs is often boosted by market and technological ideas provided by other companies and organisations in their wider networks and supply chains. There is often a major networking gap, however, between knowledge sources in universities and research organisations and industry exploitation in new spin-off enterprises and SMEs.

The review was based on the following nine SBA principles:

  • P.1. Create an environment in which entrepreneurs and family businesses can thrive.
  • P.3. Design rules according to the “think small first” principle.
  • P.4. Make public administration responsive to SMEs.
  • P.5. Adapt public policy tools to SME needs.
  • P.6. Facilitate SMEs access to finance and develop an appropriate legal and business environment.
  • P.7. Help SMEs to benefit more from the opportunities offered by the single market.
  • P.8. Promote the upgrading of skills and all forms of innovation.
  • P.9. Enable SMEs to turn environmental changes into opportunities.
  • P.10. Encourage and support SMEs to benefit from the growth markets.




Collection of data and diagnostic - A local working group, established by Unioncamere Lombardia, provided relevant background information and documents and assisted OECD experts in the collection and systematisation of information and data.


An international peer review visit - To validate and deepen the self-assessment, to contrast local experiences with other countries and to develop policy options.


A final report - Drawing on the results of the peer review exercise.



Cover report review enterprise creation lombardy‌‌The review resulted in an OECD Report in English language containing concrete policy analysis and recommendations to the national and regional level accompanied by international learning models.

Download the report



For further information about the project please contact Alessandra Proto at the OECD Secretariat.


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