Innovation and sustainable development: 2020/2021 Best Performance Awards to outstanding Italian companies

BPA, Best Performance Award


49% of surveyed companies generate 51% or more of their revenues abroad; while 46% of them still focus on domestic market.

SDA Bocconi School of Management Best Performance Award is awarded every year to Italian companies in different categories who excel in creating economic, technological, human, social and environmental value. With the support of J.P. Morgan Private Banking, PwC, the private equity fund EQT, Bureau Van Dijk and Havas PR, this year’s fourth edition has awarded top companies with the title of Best Performer in each category.

The award ceremony has seen both in-person and remote participation of partners, and has appointed the following winners:

  • Targa Telematics S.p.A, as Best Performing Small Company.
  • SIFI S.p.A. and I.CO.P. S.p.Aex aequo as Best Performing Medium Companies.
  • Iren S.p.A. as Best Performing Large Company.
  • Davines S.p.A. as Best Performer of the Year.

Moreover, in the Hot Topic category:

  • Music & Lights S.r.l. is the Adapt to React award winner.
  • S.A.I.B. S.p.A. is the Most Impactful Company.

Research and analysis to assess company performance aims not only at determining the winners in every edition but especially at outlining a clear and broad overview of the entrepreneurial scene in Italy as to revenue structure and ESG, at the same time providing interesting elements for comparison with previous years.

This year’s research has focused mainly on companies based in Lombardy (24,4%), Veneto (15,9%) and Emilia-Romagna (14,6%), and has provided major insights into extremely hot topics, such as the percentage of women in top executive positions. By comparing data from 2020 with data gathered in the first edition in 2017, you can see that the percentage of companies with no women in the top management has gone down from 37% to 16%, while those with 21% to 50% of women executives have increased from 17% to 27 per cent. Companies with 51% to 100% female top management have also grown from 3% in 2018 to 7% this year.

Another positive aspect emerging from 2020 BPA analysis concerns talent development. It is a fact that in 84% of surveyed companies at least 50% of executives have developed within the company. This represents a reassuring trend in the present uncertain period which is impacting professional life too.

A positive surprise also comes from digitalization, a key aspect in 2020 more than ever. When assessing their own level as compared to the forefront of digitalization processes pre- and post-Covid, companies have ranked it higher post-Covid than pre-Covid, with a perceived level of 7,73/10 and 7,09/10, respectively.

When it comes to financial performance, geographical origin of income (as of 31.12.2019) has been reported as “European” by 27% of companies (i.e. over 51% of revenue had been generated outside Italy but within European borders) and “Global” by 22 per cent of them (over 51% of revenue generated outside Europe). “National” geographical exposure remains strong, with 46% of companies generating over 51% of their revenue in Italy.

“The pandemic situation throughout 2020 has strengthened Italian entrepreneurs’ attention to sustainability and has made them even more determined to share it with all corporate stakeholders. This fourth edition of BPA has accounted for increasing sound competition among entrepreneurs to show the positive social and environmental externalities of their ventures. Of course, 2020 hot topics have focused on the ability to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic: virtuous resilience has emerged, enabling finalist companies both to smartly adapt to new business models and to care for their communities,” said Bocconi University Professor of Finance and former Dean of SDA Bocconi Maurizio Dallocchio.


“From our privileged point of view, we have been observing a change of paradigm towards a more sustainable development. This is already a common reality in Italy, and financial markets have started assessing our companies based on ESG. BPA research shows that the Italian sustainability model is increasingly turning to the social sphere. After all, this is nothing but a rational consequence of the spirit and well-known generosity of our people!” added SDA Bocconi Associate Professor of Practice, Corporate Finance and M&A, and Bocconi University Professor of Corporate Finance & Business Valuation Leonardo L. Etro.

Despite the difficulties in the global competitive environment, even this year Italy’s best performing companies have confirmed to be quite a number. It is exactly the end Best Performance Award has been created for – accounting for this reality and emphasizing the culture and best practices of Italian entrepreneurs. This is especially important in the present difficult and uncertain context, where examples of resilience and courage are to be celebrated like a source of inspiration. To reach this goal, SDA Bocconi’s team not only assesses company performance but, thanks to support and commitment from its partners, orchestrates a real journey every year: ad hoc initiatives, projects and events that give companies in the BPA ecosystem an opportunity for shared growth, to improve trust, sharing and cooperation. That is the spirit of our Best Performance Award – creating a virtuous environment and expanding it year on year, to serve as a dialog box supporting Italian companies who want to stand out.

“Created to bring successful entrepreneurial stories to light, this year BPA have pointed out that a company’s financial and market leadership goes always hand in hand with a solid performance in terms of sustainability, building social responsibility (in its wider meaning) into the company’s vision and organization. Sustainable firms are especially resilient ones; they can attract the interest of investors, customers and their own communities, thus being better equipped than others to overcome difficult times such as the ones we are living,” commented J.P. Morgan Private Bank Managing Director Francesco Guidi.

We have the chance to listen to companies every day. We therefore understand the challenges they are facing and how strong they are in carrying on with their job,” said PwC Assurance Partner Francesco Ferrara. “In the present edition of BPA, we have observed that they are increasingly keen not only on financial goals but on the ones concerning all their stakeholders: customers, suppliers, employees and communities. Even during these difficult months, our entrepreneurs have been able to tune up to the needs of their communities, in many cases integrating national welfare measures. We are only able to honor a few companies, but in this edition we are proud to award a special mention to the most resilient companies who have endured and striven to survive.”

For years, we have been putting ESG themes at the heart of our investment activity and embedded them in every dimension of what we do. It is an honor for us to be side by side with SDA Bocconi for BPA. This experience has showed us how lively the entrepreneurial environment is in Italy; being made up of high-quality companies who are able to compete in Italy and abroad, even as far as global sustainability challenges are concerned,” said EQT Partners Managing Director Federico Quitadamo.

We are proud of being SDA Bocconi’s technical partner in this important project,” said Luisa Quarta, Bureau Van Dijk’s Marketing Director for Italy, Greece, Malta, Ciprus.

I am very happy SDA Bocconi’s team has chosen Havas PR to communicate such a peculiar edition, which has positively highlighted our ability to adapt and react,” said Caterina Tonini, CEO of Havas PR. “2020 has been an impactful year – it has been more important than ever not to stop or isolate, rather to forge an ecosystem to rally and cooperate in order to continue and create value. Even if a competition only has one winner, we must say all participating companies are to be praised this year and looked upon as an example, not only for their financial performance and wonderful sustainability initiatives but especially for being strong enough to thrive in such a hostile context, being the champions of a country that is not giving in.”

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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