the Italian Practice

As a forerunner in Europe, Italy adopted in 2009 regulation for enterprises networks in order to promote technological innovations and fosters the competitiveness of Italian SMEs.

Although not specifically targeted to SMEs, networks represent a powerful instrument to overcome dimensional limits by enabling various different kind of collaboration without the need to give away share of control on the business.

The network contract allows two or more enterprises, on a purely contractual basis, “to pursue the goal of individually and collectively increasing their capacity for innovation and their competitiveness on the market. To this end they mutually undertake, on the basis of a shared framework program, to collaborate in predetermined forms and contexts regarding the running of their own companies and to exchange industrial, commercial, technical or technological information or services, or to jointly perform one or more activities that is part of each company’s corporate purpose”.


The Network Contract Law is drawing attention from other Member States and the European Union, as could offer the opportunity to enhance networking among policymakers and to promote exchanges of experiences and practices, as was one of the goals of the Small Businesses Act.