The Packaging industry is one of the world's most dynamic sector, affected by a strong technological relevance and an increasing innovation rate in both the applicative sub-sectors that constitute it: packaging materials and packaging machinery.

The industry as a whole is quite fragmented, especially in developing countries where a great deal of the production capacity consists of small companies that offer few types of basic units and aftermarket parts. Instead, large industrial and commercial groups play a key role in the main target markets (food, beverage, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, tobacco, home hygiene), leveraging the packaging as part of their value-added products. These companies very often drive the entire innovation process with a strong focus on the issues of environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility..


An increasing attention towards energy efficiency processes, operational performance, cost reduction activities and environmental/regulatory compliance are key industry drivers, and competitive success factors as well. In this context, customers drive the demand patterns and the development of new products features in terms of innovative materials (organic, compostable and from recycling) and differentiating attributes (ease-of-use, low-price, duration, hygiene, new shapes).

From a technological point of view, the packaging machinery and materials are high valuable segments for technology systems on the global market and offer interesting opportunities to develop green and eco-friendly processes and products. Innovation is mainly incremental but there are also cases of original and revolutionary solutions, not necessarily related to the architecture of an entire machine or type of materials, but rather to individual machine and materials components.

Here, continuous and strategic investments in R&D activities, state-of-the-art technologies and patent portfolios are compelling factors which allow to appropriate the innovation returns  and differentiate the sources of revenues. The patenting activity, in particular, should be viewed as a critical enabling process which can protect innovation, exploit R&D outputs and further monetize technology advancements. 


The Packaging Machinery supply chain can be simplified into four macro-categories:

  • manufacturers of materials/components
  • manufacturers of packaging machinery
  • agents (or distributors)
  • final customers which use packaging machinery

The Italian Packaging Machinery landscape is characterized by the presence of more than 600 companies and over 26.000 employees: 54,5% of these companies have registered a turnover of less than € 2,5 million and contributed for about 4% to the total turnover of the sector (compared to 50,4% of large groups).

The greatest concentration (50%) of Italian manufacturers is located in the “Emilian Packaging Valley”: they account for more than 60% of domestic turnover in their sector. Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont are other interesting geographical areas.

Given such a complex, fragmented and highly innovative scenario, ICM Industrial has mapped the national Packaging Machinery Supply Chain and the IP scenario in order to support the national players in assessing attractive business opportunities and discovering state-of-the-art technology solutions.

We have adopted both a top-down (from market to technology) and bottom-up (from technology to market) approach and the result is the IRM® Packaging Technology & IP Data Bank: a structured and continually updated set of know-how, information bases and best practices which turn a vast and dispersed knowledge/information concerning the packaging sector into valuable insights and new business opportunities.

The platform capitalizes the know-how, experiences and tools derived from several projects involving SMEs, clusters, large corporations, technology specialists in the field of sustainable packaging machinery. The rationale is to keep track of multiple and differentiated technologies and to match the technology focus of each company to their business activities,  in a real and “living” innovation-driven database.