Doing business with alternative models of the “Italian System”

17 September 2021

Is it possible to activate forms of promotion and networking in favour of companies in your compartment, helping them in developing their business and at the same time activating virtuous mechanisms that reduce the disparities between the so-called “developing countries” and “developed/industrialised countries”?
A way forward has been opened by ASSOMAC and ITA/ICE Agenzia for some years, with a systemic model that is certainly “alternative” and capable of creating long-term relationships by connecting the Italian industry represented by ASSOMAC and the countries that import technologies: “Centres of Technological Services”.
This is a concept that ITA/ICE Agenzia has been promoting for years, through a financing mechanism that is proving to be successful, with ASSOMAC in the footwear, leather goods and tannery Sectors.

"The Centre of Technological Services is one of the tools made available to ICE-Agenzia to promote Italian companies in rapidly developing markets that complement the Italian economic model. For this reason, ICE-Agenzia has taken advantage of the opportunity to collaborate with ASSOMAC to set up technological centres through which to accompany Italian manufacturers of footwear, leather goods and tanning machinery in India, Vietnam and Pakistan. After some time since its establishment, the model has proved to be effective in guaranteeing solid and sustainable development to local supply chains and for this reason, ICE-Agenzia continues to support this strategic approach and collaboration with ASSOMAC” ITA Agency General Director, Roberto Luongo

But how does a “Centre of Technological Services” (CTS) work?

A CTS is an “enabling platform” for the industrial development of sectors in the foreign countries where it is located.

The CTS works as an “incubator of skills, technologies and knowledge” with the aim of transferring and applying the best advanced and “Industry 4.0” technologies, owned by Italian companies, and the related organisational and management processes for their proper use.
A CTS works as an “accelerator” for the full development and wellbeing of people, providing or increasing technical and digital skills, as well as “soft skills” and thus transferring sustainable methods to the local industrial ecosystem.
Each country has its own needs, expectations and an industrial culture on which one cannot simply apply a model of a Technological Centre.
For this reason, ASSOMAC and ITA AGENZIA (with the technical support of the NGO PISIE) have developed an approach that stems from listening to local needs, through the ITA HELP DESK in foreign countries and through the creation of a mixed team (joint team) consisting of a local entity / Association / Institution and the Italian counterpart.
This is where the process of creating the CTS starts: the formation of a specific action plan that includes finding adequate financial resources and analysing the best and most feasible technologies to be implemented; the identification of the skills that need to be improved or provided and the development of a plan for the promotion and dissemination
(in the foreign country) of the opportunities for technological and social development that the CTS can guarantee.

“The challenge we set ourselves was to be able to favour the machinery produced by our members over the competition, trying to make it clear that the solution to our production needs lay in the ability to know how to use these machines to the maximum. However, there was a lack of technical, practical and organisational skills to set up complex industrial processes. Hence, the idea of building a centre that could provide all this. On the one hand, personnel training and on the other, machinery and components to get hands-on experience and learn how to make the most of the technologies. This led to the creation of the model of the Centre of Technological Services.” ASSOMAC General Manager, Roberto Vago

What are the advantages for Italian companies?
Being able to benefit from the presence of a CTS in a foreign country, for Italian companies, can become an interesting commercial and strategic lever:

1. The CTS can be understood as a “commercial base” from which to activate business actions, in a specialised area with low costs, from which to start local market scouting actions.
2. The CTS is a local reference point specialised in the sector, where practical technical demonstrations of its machinery and training and promotion of its technologies can be organised.
3. The CTS is a privileged observatory because it is co-managed with the trade association or an institutional partner that is a reference point for the sector. Here it is possible to obtain information and learn about the real needs of the country, future trends and evolution of the sectors.

The four operating pillars of a CTS:
The development of the individual’s skills is the main pillar of a CTS: high-level, trained human resources are the basis for the success of the initiative.

A “demonstration” space where machinery, equipment and process technologies can be implemented, not simply a “showroom” but an environment to facilitate technological transfer. 

- Networking
A place for business and dialogue, a bridge between Italy and foreign countries, a gym for entrepreneurs and technicians in the sector to become a “centre of excellence” for the industry and the civil and social ecosystem around it. An international CTS network to dialogue with the whole world.

-Consultancy and Business Development
The CTS Staff provide consultancy and support to local companies through a specific portfolio of services.
Through their activities and the constant relationship with PISIE and ASSOMAC, the Centre of Technological Services and the various training and education activities they provide to foreign companies at all levels of competence, are becoming a success factor in gaining preference in the choice of Italian technological partners, with a focus on a more sustainable and qualitatively better model of industrial development.
An alternative path to industrial development exists and an “Italian” System is already taking it.


To date, ASSOMAC and ITA Agenzia have set up three Centres of Technological Services, operating in Vietnam, India and Pakistan. In addition to these, there are just as many “twin” CTSs in the Textile Industry.

“Italy Pakistan Footwear Technology Center – IPFTC” was developed in collaboration with the PFMA (Pakistan Footwear Manufacturing Association) in Lahore. It was set up with the aim of implementing a technological transfer from Italy to Pakistan, consisting of machinery and related know-how, with a view to promoting and marketing activities of Italian manufacturing companies.
The technological centre is structured in two complementary parts: one is dedicated to cutting, modelling and prototyping systems and the other includes the physical-mechanical quality testing laboratory. The project also provides training and education activities involving professors and students, as well as company technicians and entrepreneurs.
The centre, together with the new “Pakistan Shoe Design Hub” funded by UNIDO, acts as a bridge between Italian manufacturers and suppliers of technologies, i.e. ASSOMAC member companies, and the footwear and leather goods sector in Pakistan. The collaborations that are being developed, through joint training, seminars and promotional activities, will lead to a better business relationship between the two countries.

VIETNAM (2017)
“Italy-Vietnam Footwear Technology Center Italia” at the LEFASO Technology Centre and with the collaboration of the Binh Duong Institute of Technology and Trade, under the patronage of the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry, the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Italian Embassy in Vietnam for technological transfer and development and management of footwear production processes. This centre of footwear services was made available to all companies in the sector, equipped with Italian technology, where training courses were held for local technicians.

INDIA (2009)
Tanning Training & Service Centre Kolkata (TTSC). The project, sponsored by the Government of West Bengal in partnership with the Council for Leather Exports, the Calcutta Leather Complex (CLC) and the Tanners’ Association of Kolkata, is part of the development of Kolkata’s tanning cluster, which is being relocated from the urban areas of Tiljala, Topsia and Pagla Danga to Bantala, 15 km outside the borders of Kolkata.
The new district offers infrastructure, logistic services, sewerage treatment, technological upgrading through technical assistance, investments and training. The main protagonist of the training is the GCELT (Government College of Engineering and Leather Technology), which is located on the edge of the CLC industrial area and is responsible for the service centre within the “Cluster”. The aim of the project is to update the level of technological specialisation of the GCELT teachers who will be in charge of the service centre, through refresher courses that also include the creation of a new technical laboratory for experiments, complete with instruments and equipment for the physical and chemical analysis of leather. The courses involve the fields of tanning chemicals, engineering, reduction of environmental impact, and quality testing in the laboratory.

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