About the Region

  • Italy is a country having a National Bioeconomy Strategy since 2017 updated in 2019 to the National Smart Specialization Strategy and is planned to be implemented in synergy with the Italian National Strategy for Sustainable Development. All domains are operational in the strategies frames and they include the bio-based textiles and pharmaceuticals, the paper industry and the wood industry comprising, all together, more than 10% of the national turnover and work occupancy.
  • In the meantime, the Smart Specialization Strategy is an important source that reveals key strategic priority areas for most Italian Regions. In the domain of Bioeconomy Education, the Italian context is characterized by the presence of multiple institutional players at national and regional levels, in addition to the relevant role of the social partners. The whole frame has a dedicated multi-ministerial governance, orchestrated by the Ministry of Education. Into the whole scheme, social partners play an advisory role in the formulation of training policies and contribute to their interpretation of the pathways that then constitute the training offer.
About the Region Image

Thematic Orientation

Existing Sub-Sectors

In 2017 the Italian government launched The Italian Bioeconomy Strategy (BIT) which was updated in 2019 (BIT II).

According to this strategy, as of the year 2017, the below sub-sectors are mentioned as the key sub-sectors in terms of their share in the total turnover, in addition to their share in employment. In this regard:

  • Food, Beverages and Tobacco industries 40.9% of the turnover and 22.4% of the employment 
  • Agriculture, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, meanwhile consisted of 17.7% of the total turnover and 45.3% of total employment. 
  • Followed by the Bioeconomy sub-sectors of 
    • Bio-based apparel (10% of turnover and 10% of employment), 
    • Paper industry (6,9% of turnover, 3,6% of employment), 
    • Bio-based textiles (5%, 3.8%), 
    • Bio-based pharmaceuticals (4,6%, 1.9%)  
    • Wood industry (4,1%, 5.2%), altogether accounting for a total of 90% of the total turnover in Bioeconomy in Italy. 

In 2020 the Emilia-Romagna Region started a participatory process to define the new Smart Specialization Strategy in view of the 2021-2027 EU funds programming. The new S3 Strategy has identified 8 Strategic Specialization Areas, which are: 

  • Agrifood 
  • Building and Construction 
  • Mechatronics and Motoring 
  • Health and Wellness Industries 
  • Cultural and Creative Industries 
  • Innovation in Services
  • Energy and Sustainable Development 
  • Tourism

In addition, there are 2 new areas with high growth potential: 

  • Aerospace Economy 
  • Critical Infrastructures

Meanwhile, the 15 Cross-sector Priority Areas adopted in addressing these specialization areas exist.

Key Trends Influencing Innovation

Key sub-sectors have been defined, in addition to challenges, opportunities as well as research and innovation priorities related to each sub-sector. In this regard, the sub-sectors identified are:

  • Primary production: Agriculture, forestry and related industrial sectors
    • Rich local biodiversity and agricultural ecosystem services
    • The local crops/varieties available regionally to be adapted to climate change and low-input cultivations;
    • The innovative multi-purpose cropping systems are able to regenerate marginal, abandoned, degraded lands, and to create value for local rural Communities;
    • The innovative precision-farming and breeding techniques, enabled by available digital services
    • The adoption of new business models for the diversification of rural incomes, 
    • The valorization of the underexploited agricultural, forestry and breeding residues and side streams with the production of food ingredients and valuable bio-based chemicals, fertilizers (eg, the recovering and recycling of phosphorus from sewage sludge, manure and food waste) and energy;
    • The role of agriculture in the urban and peri-urban areas (including indoor vertical agriculture) for their regeneration, for greener and healthier cities.
    • Independent Sustainable Forest Management schemes for a tailored integrated management and exploitation of forests;
    • Innovative techniques, based on digital services, enable input reduction, sustainable and resilient intensification of forestry;
    • Nature-based and eco-designed solutions (including new sustainable organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides) enabling the preservation of biodiversity, the implementation of low-impact management protocols;
    • Forest certification schemes and Life Cycle Analysis practices for the sustainable exploitation of valuable national wood and deriving materials, as for the production of added value products and energy via tailored biorefinery schemes;
    • Business innovation models with local value chains deriving from forest products, like mushrooms, truffles, herbs, cork etc. as a contribution to rural development opportunities.
  • Food industry
    • New “typical/quality” food products (DOP, IGP, STG, etc.) to be valorized, preserved and protected at the European and international level;
    • New emerging global markets seeking for safe and high-quality foods;
    • Alternative protein sources (insects, algae etc.) and novel food microbes utilizing pedoclimatic national areas and existing industrial infrastructures taking advantage of climate change and anticipating novel food security needs;
    • Food byproducts to be used for the production of food ingredients and feed, as well as of agri-food waste, to be exploited for the integrated production of bio-based chemicals, materials, energy as well as fertilizers and compost;
    • New Urban Food Systems”, e.g. the local food production and distribution of fresh and high nutritional value products, which create new business opportunities by overcoming the dichotomy between urban and peri-urban areas.”
  • Bio-based industry
    • Agricultural, forestry and breeding residues and side streams are currently underexploited;
    • Abandoned/marginal lands suitable for the production of autochthonous or planted industrial biomass;
    • Former oil refineries/industrial sites that can be partially converted into biorefineries;
    • New regenerative processes for cleaning polluted areas and engineering measures for the reconversion of abandoned industrial and urban sites, promoting the valorisation of brownfields rather than virgin land;
    • Expertise in already assessed lab scale processes for the conversion of residues, byproducts and side streams into food/ feed ingredients, biochemicals, biomaterials and high-quality organic fertilizers;
    • Successful case studies on bio-based products developed in Italy (i.e. compostable shopping bags/foodservice ware, biodegradable mulch film/bioherbicides/ bio-lubricants) and price premiums for environmentally sustainable products (Made green in Italy);
    • New emerging technologies for capturing and converting CO2 into fertilizers, chemicals and polymers;
    • Methods for the valorization of stabilized digestates from biorefinery and bioenergy plants, to provide soils with assimilable organic carbon;
    • Prominent national collections of microbes (bacteria, yeasts, molds, fungi, algae, etc., also from the sea), enzymes and genetically improved microbes of industrial interest;
    • Large network of biomethane-producing facilities (mainly fed with agri-food biowaste and municipal organic waste) and relevant potential for the valorization of a wet fraction of urban waste with the production of compost to improve soil fertility in urban and rural areas;
    • Integration of the existing wastewater purification plants and anaerobic digestors with biorefinery schemes to combine the production of their conventional products with that of high-value bio-based chemicals and compounds;
    • Pioneering initiatives leveraging on Bioeconomy “everyday products” for informing, educating and engaging urban communities in urban re-generation projects
  • Marine Bioeconomy
    • Environmentally safe practices for marine aquaculture (multi-trophic but and also offshore) and of robust aquaculture supply chains;
    • New emerging business models for connecting tourism to ecosystem valorization;
    • Unique landscape and cultural heritage of coastal areas as a resource of local communities and worth to be preserved and valorized according to sustainable and integrated schemes;
    • Technology for marine bioenergy production

Expected Sub-Sectors / Value Chains

Joint Research Centre Report on the future scenarios of the Bioeconomy in the EU (for year 2050), has identified the below main drivers of the EU, that will shape the future sectors of the Bioeconomy. This report will also be very relevant for the case of Italy. The main drivers that are expected to shape the sub-sectors /value-chains of the future are as follows:

  • Ecosystems in the EU
    • Agroecology
    • Bio-based carbon sequestration
  • Social systems in the EU
    • Awareness and engagement for change
    • Food security
    • Food-related health concerns
  • Economic systems in the EU
    • Bioeconomy-based employment
    • Bioeconomy-based international trade
  • Energy systems in the EU
    • Biobased electricity/CHP
    • Biobased heat
    • Biofuels for transport
  • Material system in the EU
    • Biobased chemicals, plastics etc.
    • Biobased construction materials
    • Biobased fertilisers

Opportunities for advancement (Growth, Career, Social etc.)

According to the report titled “Promoting education, training and skills in bioeconomy” 7,7% of the working population in Italy are employed in the bioeconomy sectors. The largest bioeconomy sector in terms of value added at factor cost and employment is agriculture, with 45% of people being employed in this sector. While this data indicates which sector presents the most employment opportunities, the report titled “Bioeconomy in Europe”, prepared by key stakeholders of the Bioeconomy industry ecosystem provides some data concerning the number of start-ups in Bioeconomy in Italy (2021), in the differentiation of different sector. This data provides us an idea about the trends in the Bioeconomy industry, and sectors which present a potential and an opportunity to pursue innovative and entrepreneurial activities. According to the table below, the highest number of start-up firms were found in the area of Research and Development and other professional and technical-scientific activities. The second sector with the highest number of start-ups was the Food and Beverages sector, followed by the sector of Agriculture.

Governance, Education levels & Skills

Governance structure in adult education on Bioeconomy, or on the wider topic of sustainability (Higher Education, Vocational Training etc.)

The Italian context is characterized by the presence of multiple institutional players at national and regional levels, in addition to the relevant role of the social partners

  •  Existing Policies – Strategies 
    • A coordination structure among the involved actors
  • Governance Model 
    • The education ministry 
    • The labor ministry 
    • At the national level, the National Institute for public policy analysis monitors vocational education and training pathways, 
    • The regions and autonomous provinces are in charge of planning, programming, organization and implementation of VET pathways
    • Social partners play an advisory role 
  • Regulation – Legislation
    • A system of adult education has been running in Italy since 1997, organised at Local Permanent Centres (Centri territoriali permanenti – CTPs) and through evening courses at upper secondary education institutions. In 2007, a specific Ministerial Decree launched the reform of the adult education system that started in 2012 and ended in the school year 2015/2016. The reform has also provided for the establishment of Provincial Centres for School Education for Adults (Centri provinciali per l’istruzione degli adulti – CPIAs) that, together with the upper secondary schools for the second level courses, have replaced the existing CTPs and evening courses respectively

Organization of Adult and Lifelong Learning

The education and training system in Italy comprises of: 

  • preschool education 
  • integrated primary and lower secondary education 
  • upper secondary education 
  • post-secondary education 
  • higher education 

How VET is offered within the ET system

At the upper secondary level, the following VET programs are offered:

  • five-year programs (EQF level 4) at technical schools leading to technical education diplomas
  • three-year programs leading to a vocational qualification (EQF level 3);
  • four-year programs leading to a technician professional diploma (EQF level 4).

At the post-secondary level, VET is offered as higher technical education for graduates of five-year upper secondary programs or four-year vocational education and training pathway programs who passed entrance exams:

Available Research on Bioeconomy Education

  • BIObec project in 2021-2022 performed a EU & regional analysis of needs in light of the implementation and replication of a Mediterranean Bio-Based Education Centre, a specific analysis was performed involving 20 Italian actors in dedicated multi-stakeholder focus groups. 
  • UrBioFuture project performed research on a comprehensive map of completed and ongoing programs of education in the bio-based sector.  

Main Training, Retraining or Lifelong Learning on Sustainability

Master Program





Sustainability and Circular Economy Management Marche Polytecnic University
Circular Economy Tuscia University
Sustainable Chemistry and Technologies for Circular Economy University of Padua
Environmental Sustainability and Circular Economy Polytechnic University of Milan
Bioeconomy in the Circular Economy – BIOCIRCE University of Bologna, University of Naples Federico II, University of Turin, University of Milan Bicocca
International Master in Sustainability and Circular Bio Economy Rome Business School
Circular Economy Management EIIS – European Institute of Innovation for Sustainability
Postgraduate course


Circular Economy Polytechnic University of Bari
Environmental management and control; circular economy and efficient resource management Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
Highly Specialized Course Circular Economy for Business Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies
Seasonal School Circular Economy and Sustainable Management Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies


Available Research on Bioeconomy skills needed

  • BIOSKILLS project “Promoting education, training and skills across the Bioeconomy” provided recommendations for the development of education at higher education, VET and entrepreneurship levels;
  • Transition2BIO project prepared a report on skill needs that have been identified during five co-creation workshops organized by the project, each of which targeted different Bioeconomy sectors.

Linking Art & Bioeconomy Education

Bioeconomy education in which Art concepts are applied

  • Art as a stimulus of the needed skills
    • An effective example at EU level to stimulate systemic thinking is the Joint Research Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy foresight exercise “How can the EU Bioeconomy best contribute to specific Sustainable Development Goals and to the transition towards a climate-neutral economy by 2050?” 
  • Art addressing learning styles
    • “Link” is an association whose aim is to involve NEETs in training paths in the context of Italian municipalities. It aims at involving NEETS in creative/artistic experiences and non-formal educational activities, to help them find a motivational driver, and also stimulate their interest in different topics (specifically art, sustainability, and bioeconomy).
    • “My HandScraft” is a 30-month project aiming to develop and test an innovative education and training programme, addressed to low-skilled adults and migrants
  • Inspirational case studies from Art to Bioeconomy Education
    • The BioArt Gallery offers an innovative approach to showcasing to the large public some examples of bio-based products and applications currently available in the market. It displays high-impact images to use the “wow” effect and showcase how a raw material commonly considered “waste” can have numerous possibilities for valorization in the Bioeconomy. 
  • Injecting the Bioeconomy in design, art, architecture, etc. professions 
    • The Sustainable Art Prize is launched by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and it is dedicated to an artist or a collective of artists working on sustainability issues and that, using artistic language, actively disseminate issues related to major global challenges, in line with the 17 objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promoted by the UN. The prize entails the construction of an installation, an exhibition or a performance which relates to sustainability, to be hosted at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.

Marginal Groups

Working with which marginalised, disadvantaged, minority groups is prioritised?

BioGov.net addresses Italy as a macro-region. Nevertheless, the specific priorities and policies connected to marginalized groups are often region-specific. For this reason, we identified the main target beneficiaries of educational activities supporting marginalized groups related to the regions that will be represented by local stakeholders in the Italian CoP.

  • Apulia: Women, Youngsters, Neets.
  • Lazio: Young Neets, Adult Neets, Women.
  • FVG: Young Neets, Adult Neets, Women
  • Emilia Romagna: Young Neets, Adult Neets, Women, Immigrants/Foreign Citizens

Relevant Jobs and/or Opportunities for Inclusion of Marginal Groups

In relation to the priorities identified below are listed the relevant sectors or other opportunities for inclusion for individuals (from the marginalized, disadvantaged, minority groups) in the bioeconomy per each target region:

  • Apulia: Agrifood Industry, Wine Industry, Craftsmanship, Sustainable Fashion, Tourism Industry, Sea Economy.
  • Lazio: Agrifood Industry, Craftsmanship, Sea Economy.
  • Friuli Venezia Giulia: Agrifood Industry, Forestry, Sea Economy.
  • Emilia Romagna: Agrifood, Building and Construction, Health and Wellness industries

Main needs of individuals of marginalised groups integrating them into Bioeconomy

  • Networking opportunities, to become connected to bioeconomy education as well as bioeconomy industries
  • The motivation provided, especially to NEETs, through inspirational successful stories
  • Accessible, flexible and free online training courses, which are tailor-made focusing on the needs of the target groups
  • Provision of soft skills, especially, entrepreneurial skills and transversal skills, such as self-confidence, self-awareness, time management, prioritization, communication skills
  • Skills connected to running/or being a part of a business: Preparation of a business plan, project proposals, financial reports, etc.

Existing educational/development activities for marginalized groups for Integration to Bioeconomy activities

Based on the regional priorities, dedicated calls are launched under the European Social Fund. The educational centres respond to these specific priorities, by providing educational activities to respond to these needs. The marginalized groups to be addressed are also covered by these priorities. Therefore, the educational providers are the same as described in Part 2.

SWOT Analysis


  • Wide spectrum of sectors involved
  • Competitiveness based on Innovation
  • Increasing transition to horizontal value chains
  • Expected expansion to new sectors
  • Increase of employment / available job positions
  • Existing National plan for achieving the goals
  • Existing Educational Strategies, defined policies and a well-structured Governance
  • Existing of lateral opportunities, Life-Long learning, Vocational training, mass information, etc
  • Substantial overlapping between the Bioeconomy Education Institutions and Art related institutions


  • Not fully valorized resources and products
  • Bioeconomy is not fully aligned with the socioeconomic priorities of the country
  • There is a National Strategy on Bioeconomy but there are no data on the level of implementation of this strategy
  • Fragmentation of activities and priorities. Lack of an organizational umbrella
  • Marginalized groups are identified in a regional basis with significant differences between them. This inhibits the possibility of establishing a National strategy for the education and integration of these groups


  • Expansion in many ways, considering the geopolitical situation
  • Building strategic alliances
  • Further exploitation of the developed digital background
  • Making Italy a recognized centre of Bioeconomy development in Europe
  • Benefitting from the existing Educational background
  • Organized structures for advancing opportunities on social and educational and career levels
  • Italy can become a pioneer in European scale in matters of Bioeconomy and/or Art thanks to the existing affinity and interaction among the related institutions


  • Potential decrease of resources by 2050 due to dynamic harvesting
  • The increasing of the emigration waves will enhance the issue of managing and educating the marginalized groups
  • A potential brain-drain due to the lack of motivation
  • Lack of a concrete National plan aiming to identify and then to integrate the marginalized groups

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