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Turin opens the “Aerospace and Defence Meetings” pushing the cooperation between major players and SMEs

by Filomena Greco

The Aerospace & Defense Meetings open in Turin for its fifth edition, taking the baton from the event that every two years take place in Toulouse. Attention to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) active in the aerospace sector is confirmed in Turin, where 400 economic operators have gathered for a calendar packed of B2B events, with Finmeccanica as industrial partner.

Italy’s aerospace industry is a driver of the manufacturing sector with high value added, research and technology innovation, despite the scarce resources invested in defense programs in recent years. The Italian-made sector is worth nearly €13 billion and employs over 60,000. Around a third is based in the Piedmont region, with military production by Alenia Aermacchi, and Avio Aero of the General Electric group, and space activities by Thales Alenia Space, in collaboration with France.

In Turin, the Chamber of Commerce and the Foreign Center (run by the Piedmont region and UnionCamere) in 2007 created this annual event which has become a point of reference for the European industry. Also in Piedmont, the technology platform of the aerospace industry funded with European funds by the region represents a valid example of cooperation between leading industrial groups and the cluster of SMEs.

“Innovation represents the main channel to reach the emerging countries at a moment when the European market is in stagnation,” said Daniele Romiti, CEO of AugustaWestland, during a conference dedicated to Italy’s aerospace strategies. “The challenge is to continue to be ahead of those countries in technology. As part of Finmeccanica group, the dual system that we use to optimize the benefits of the technologies developed in the civil or military sector helps. But Italy must do a quality leap and focus all of its public resources on shared innovation projects,” he said.

This is the main issue. The president of Piedmont, Sergio Chiamparino, said he is ready to bring to the region a shared project of industrial policy and tap the “treasure trove” of €50 million of funds coming from Europe.

At the moment there is a national coordination, the rest remains to be done, to avoid that single regions and clusters waste resources in different projects without coordination. The risk is evident for Carlo Calenda, Deputy Minister for Economic Development who said: “Industrial policy has a crucial role in the aerospace industry. As they decide their industrial strategy, parent companies, in Italy and abroad, have a key role. We need to focus public resources on groups’ industrial plans. Germany is doing so. This is the only way to multiply benefits and the economic impact of the use of public resources.”