IEC – Institute for Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness


IEC – Institute for Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness

Born out of an affiliation with the institute directed by Prof. M.E. Porter at Harvard Business School, the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness sets a national standard for the study of competitiveness, entrepreneurship and strategy. The Institute has an international faculty active in research, training and coaching of entrepreneurs, companies and institutions.

Today, it is an established research centre dedicated to entrepreneurial, innovative and strategic processes that accelerate the competitiveness of companies, districts, clusters, institutions and territories. Collaborations with the Institute have extraordinary potential and visibility for partners, supporters and internal members, especially in relation to the prestigious and distinctive affiliation with the institute headed by Prof. M.E. Porter at Harvard Business School.

The Institute also acts as a catalyst for national and international projects on topics within its sphere of competence, in conjunction with other centres or research units at Italian and foreign universities.

The faculty is made up of national and international academics, entrepreneurs, consultants and policy makers and operates through basic and contract research, executive and specialist training, and dissemination events.

Lastly, it collaborates with the international think tank Strategique, founded and based at Harvard University, which provides the Institute with training and research material on the development of innovative business models.

Main areas of research

  • Analysis of successful business models
  • Study of corporate entrepreneurship processes
  • Design and development of networks and enterprise clusters
  • Regional/cluster strategic plans
  • Cluster governance, cluster management and organisation
  • Supporting the Cluster Excellence Label


The Institute also shares the results and possible implications of its research via:

  • Organisation of and participation in events related to research products
  • Free, online teasing seminars for the Master’s degree
  • Posts, newsletters, video/audio podcasts on social media
  • Articles in professional, specialist and trade journals
  • Own and third-party reports

The Institute’s founding partner is the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, headed by Prof. Michael E. Porter. In 2002, Prof. Porter founded the Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) network to share his knowledge of strategy and competitiveness with students, companies, leaders and policy-makers worldwide. MOC is now an exclusive international network of some of the world’s most important and influential professors and is a member of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness.

The close relationship with Harvard Business School is also ensured by the role that the Director, Prof. Fernando G. Alberti, plays in the MOC network, as Institutes Council Leader, coordinating the more than 40 competitiveness institutes affiliated with ISC across the world.

The Institute has an international advisory board, composed of Jorge Ramirez (Harvard Business School); Fred van Eenennaam (Erasmus Rotterdam University); Philippe Gugler (Fribourg University); Mark Esposito (Grenoble Ecole de Management); Ingo Bobel (International University of Munich); Pablo Collazzo (Vienna University); Peter Abplanalp (FHNW University); Jesus M. Valdaliso (University of the Basque Country); Amit Kapoor (India Council on Competitiveness). It is affiliated with other competitiveness research centres such as: The Netherlands Centre for Competitiveness, the Lab-Centre for Competitiveness (France), the Center for Competitiveness (Switzerland), the Forum de Inovaçao (Brazil).

Cluster Mapping

Consolidating the Institute’s distinctive specialisation in clusters, a subject of which Prof. Porter is the scientific father, the Institute has conducted the first mapping of Italian clusters. This  follows the quantity of work done in recent years on the subject, from scientific publications to the strategic plans of the Lombardy Aerospace Cluster or the Lombardy Energy Cleantech Cluster, from participation on the boards of regional and national clusters to the organisation of international seminars for cluster managers.

The project is based on the methodology developed at Harvard Business School by Prof. Porter’s team, and was conducted with the support of Richard Bryden, Project Director of the U.S. Cluster mapping project. The aim of cluster mapping is to study clusters not only at a national and regional level but, for the first time, also at provincial level.

Italian Survey on Competitiveness

The Institute carried out a pilot version of the well-known Survey on Competitiveness conducted by Prof. Porter at Harvard Business School.

The research is characterised by being carried out for the first time in Italy, following the original survey protocol and under the guidance of HBS itself. It aggregates and guides the ongoing debate in the country on the issue of competitiveness.

The survey will be repeated annually, expanding and updating the categories of respondents from time to time.

Hyper-competitive enterprises

Studies on competitiveness also involve above all an analysis of the competitiveness of individual companies, with a focus on hyper-competitive companies, i.e. those that show competitive advantages that are clearly superior to their reference context. In particular, deploying the concept of competitive advantage introduced by Prof. Porter, the study focuses on the strategies adopted by those companies that show a core business profitability at least 50% higher than the average for their sector. After analysis, first of the Made in Italy sectors and then the Italian Tertiary Sector, a strategic invariant formula was found, confirmed by similar studies at international level.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem – Index

The aim is to make the Institute’s, and thus LIUC’s, work recognised as the leading voice in the analysis and monitoring of the national entrepreneurial ecosystem, starting with the development of an index and a related annual report:

The Institute is engaged in the development of an ‘entrepreneurial ferment index’ to analyse and monitor the national entrepreneurial ecosystem. The project, inspired by the Surge City index of the Silicon Valley magazine ‘Inc.’, aims to provide a ranking of Italian provinces that are emerging as places to start a new business.

The Centre, which was set up by the CFMT- Centro Formazione Management del Tertiary (Tertiary Sector Management Training Centre), intends to monitor the competitiveness of companies and clusters operating in Italy in the large and diversified tertiary sector, offering them tools, solutions and competitive benchmarks as well as opportunities for knowledge sharing and training proposals.


The activities envisaged by the Centre are:

  • An annual survey based on primary and secondary sources, inspired by the model developed by Professor M.E. Porter for analysing the determinants of a territory’s competitiveness. It will consist of three main focuses of analysis: the competitive environment, clusters, and business strategy.
  • An event, jointly organised with the CFMT, to present and share the annual report with the results of the Centre’s activities.
  • The identification and sharing of best practices, training proposals and managerial recipes to understand the determinants of competitiveness in the sector, rethinking the strategic and management models underlying competitiveness and identifying the skills needed to develop entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship


The competitive environment will be analysed through the first Italian edition of the ‘Harvard Business School U.S. Competitiveness Survey’. The survey aims to investigate and analyse the ability of Italian companies, operating in the service sectors, to compete in global markets. The results will help assess and potentially improve the competitiveness of companies in Italy.

The cluster analysis will be conducted in cooperation with Richard Bryden, Project Director of the U.S. Cluster Mapping Project at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness of Harvard Business School. The aim of the project will be to investigate the new relationships and connections between the tertiary sector and the manufacturing industry, also offering a comparative view at regional and international level.

Companies competitiveness will be assessed with an economic-financial analysis on the basis of ROE, ROI, ROS and Turnover Growth Rate indices for the last three years. The same analysis will then be conducted on a sample consisting only of the so-called ‘hyper-competitive’ companies in the tertiary sector (ROI = 50% or more than the sector average for three consecutive years).

For each of the three analyses, the most significant case histories will also be presented in order to understand the key elements underlying their success (or failure), and to identify the main entrepreneurial and competitive challenges for today’s companies and managers.


Representatives of LIUC Cattaneo University

Fernando G. Alberti
Director of the National Monitoring Centre for the Competitiveness of Tertiary Sector Enterprises

Stefania Ferrario
Researcher at the National Monitoring Centre for the Competitiveness of Tertiary Sector Enterprises

Federica Belfanti

CFMT representatives

Pietro Luigi Giacomon
CFMT President

Mario Sassi
CFMT General Manager

Angela Cozza
CFMT Head of Events, Communication and Research

CONTACTS – National Monitoring Centre

Fernando G. Alberti

Stefania Ferrario
Research Associate

Federica Belfanti

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