The Andalusian aerospace cluster sets a course for its internationalization

Oct 1, 2012

The Hélice Cluster starts an internationalization plan aiming the increase of the scope and presence of Andalusian aerospace industry in foreign markets. The initiative, that will be developed throughout the next two years, includes the development of several lines of action, such as the participation at the main fairs and specialized events of the sector, the reinforcement of the collaboration with other European clusters and the execution of a communication plan to strengthen its corporate image"

The evolution of aeronautic industry in the last decades has trans­formed the sector into a global-structured industry, with a supply chain where companies from different countries are participating, resulting from an integration process of different aircraft manufacturers, es­pecially in Europe, that nowadays continues with a similar process regard­ing high level suppliers or subcontractors. Aircrafts constructed nowadays in Europe or North America are manufactured in China, Japan, Central America, etc. and are sold all around the world. Therefore, internationaliza­tion, is nowadays a key factor for all companies and institutions developing its activity in the aerospace sector and searching for new business opportu­nities together with partner and collaborators all around the world.

Conscious of the importance of this fact, and of the necessity of keeping on fostering the presence of Andalusian companies in the main internation­al programs of the sector, the Hélice Cluster has started an internationaliza­tion plan to boost the scope of aeronautical companies in the community and to contribute consolidating its image as an unifying agent of all the An­dalusian aerospace cluster, an international benchmark that acts as inter­locutor before administrations and main players in the industry.

With this plan, Hélice wants to consolidate a course already started in 2005 with its first activities related to external promotion, but now, it is pur­suing another step forward, developing an action with a strategic goal and a integrated method. The plan has been started last summer and will last two years. It includes different actions focused on the promotion of the An­dalusian aeronautic cluster in different national and international spheres, boosting cooperation relationships with the European aerospace clusters network, coordinating proposals for joint R&D projects and developing an integral strategy of communication gathering all these actions together. The deployment of the plan will be possible thanks to the co-financing of the General Direction of Industry and Small and Medium Sized Companies, of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, through its annual announce­ment of boost of the Innovating Business Groups, AEI2012.

A “premier division” cluster

The guidelines of the European Union regarding the knowledge-based economic growth have, as fundamental basis, the implementation of Strat­egies of Intelligent Specializations adapted and customized to the territories (region, nation, etc.) and the development of the existing clusters in order to transform them into World Class Clusters. Therefore, the European Commission’s advice is not to create new clusters but to boost those that already exist –the best ones-, to transform them into international, strong and consolidated clusters. Thus, it defines a 15-criteria panel to evaluate the clusters that already exist in Europe, five of them directly related to the international visibility of the cluster and its scope beyond its action sphere.

Under such premises, Hélice pledged its commitment to foster the inter­nationalization activities of the Andalusian aerospace cluster with two fun­damental goals. Firstly, with a short-term tactic aim: to boost the internation­al scope through its participation on the most important events and forums in the aeronautical scene, with the advantage of being well defined, having a notable tradition and being a meeting point for all agents of the sector.

The plan also aims a strategic goal, rather in a long term, which is to make the right movements to fulfil the requirements in order to become a world class cluster, able to lead the aerospace industry’s growth in the interna­tional field and to coordinate its development toward activities that need the collaboration with other productive sectors, that is to say, becoming a driv­ing force or link among them.

Consolidation at the main international scenarios

The internationalization plan of Hélice is developed according to five main lines, some of them, already started. That is the case of the participation at main international events in the aeronautic sector, an activity in which Hélice has the support of Extenda, the Andalusian Agency of Foreign Promotion (within the Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment Regional Minis­try), which has been collaborating for several years in order to increase the presence of companies in the foreign markets. Among the initiatives result­ing from that process, there must be highlighted the organization of Aero­space and Defense Meetings (ADM) Seville 2012, held in May, which was the first international business event for the aerospace and defence sector in Spain, which has become a shuttle to widen international relationships of Andalusian aerospace companies.

The actions started by the new Helice plan, within this sphere, have had the most important international aerospace fairs as main players: Farnbor­ough (United Kingdom), held in July, and ILA Berlin (Germany), last month of September. The Andalusian attendance in both events was a complete success, since attending companies and institutions held important busi­ness meetings and commercial contacts with international firms of the sector, which could enable the arrival of new contracts and orders for the aeronautical industry in the region. In fact, Andalusia was the only Spanish region with its own pavilion in both fairs, with the participation of companies like Alestis, Aerosertec, Cesa, Ghenova, Prescal, Sofitec, UMI Aeronáutica, Indaero-Tecnigrab and Aerotecnic-Mecatecnic, as well as the Andalusian Aerospace Technological Park, Aerópolis.

As a result of the different meetings held in both fairs by Andalusian companies (about 320 approximately), there were established important international agreements of collaboration, such as the one subscribed by Prescal and Sogeclair Aerospace, a subsidiary firm of the French company Sogeclair, with the purpose of complementing activities and capabilities in the field of engineering to participate in the common management of new projects in the sector. On its turn, Hélice held meetings with different busi­ness organizations and aerospace clusters from different countries like USA (Oklahoma, Missouri, South Carolina); Mexico (Proméxico, Chihua­hua); Italy (Campania Aerospace, Torino Piamonte); Canada (Ontario), Bel­gium (Flag and Skywin) and Germany (Aviabelt Bremen, Hamburg Aviation, BavAiria, Niedersachsen Aviation).

The actions of the plan for the coming months include the participation at Aeromart, the most important aeronautic business meeting of the year in France that is held in December in Toulouse, and the attendance to the next edition of Le Bourget, in July 2013 in Paris.

Fostering a European excellence network

Another important subject of the internationalization strategy of the Hélice Cluster regarding the Andalusian sector is the collaboration with the other European clusters through the EACP (European Aerospace Clusters Part­nership). Hélice is also member of this association, which aim is to be a driv­ing force and to enable the transnational dialog, the information and knowl­edge exchange and the cooperation among associated clusters, which allows them to offer support to their companies, research centres and public institutions to work together in common projects boost­ing the development and the innovation in the sector. The efforts of Hélice within EACP are heading for supporting the activity of this ex­cellence network among clusters, in such a way that it helps boosting the competitiveness of the European aeronautical industry, including the Andalusian, in the global market. Thus, Hélice is involved in the dif­ferent working groups created in the association, which are focused on training, finances, and internationalization subjects.

As a third line of the plan, and linked to the previous one, there is the collaboration with other European clusters of EACP to create a project in the VII R&D Framework Program of the European Commission, specifically, within the line dedicated to create Creating cohesive links and common knowledge between potential partners in EU Framework Programme Collaborative Projects. The aim of this initiative is to link coordinators and potential partners to develop joint projects within the program in the field of Aeronautics and Air Transport.

The goal aimed with such action, is, first of all, to have a map of aero­space capabilities of each region or European cluster and to identify those regions with a low participation in the Framework Programs with regard to their capabilities, which would be therefore benefited for hav­ing best contacts in specific technological areas of other clusters, spe­cially between Western and Eastern Europe. This way, the companies of the Andalusian aerospace cluster could establish important techno­logical collaborations with companies all around Europe and to share experiences and knowledge to improve competitiveness.

National and international scope with its own brand

The presence at specialised forum of the sector both national and international is the fourth action line integrated in the internationaliza­tion plan of Hélice. In this case, it is about fostering the participation in other important events of the sector that may also contribute to im­prove the positioning of the Andalusian industry. Among these actions, there must be remarked the participation at the annual meeting of ASD (AeroSpace and Defense Industries Association of Europe). This meet­ing will be held this year in October, in Lisbon (Portugal) and there will meet together 1,000 professionals, representatives of sectorial Europe­an associations, members of boards of directors of Tier one, European commissioner and parliamentary members and other representatives of international organizations. The Hélice Cluster has been invited to at­tend this meeting, and to participate with the conference “Clusters and their role in the improvement of the Supplying Chain”. The attendance to this meeting, considered as on of the most important events of the sector in Europe, will mean a step forward to consolidate the interna­tional strategy of the Andalusian aerospace cluster.

Hélice will also promote an aeronautic business meeting that will be about organizational Lean in the sector. The activity organized with the help of the International Institute San Telmo, will be aimed to business­men and directives of SME, technological centres and administration linked to the aerospace sector in Andalusia and it will have a practical case and a debate table made up by first level directives of am Andalu­sian Tier 1, and two Tier 2 specializing in manufacture and engineering services. Also, there will be a meeting with the European Tier 1 GKN within its Business Action Board, during the month of October.

All these actions are complemented with the sixth and last one ac­tion line of the plan, which is the value enhancement of the Andalu­sian cluster through a corporate RP plan which aims reinforcing its image and the image of Andalusia as an international first level aero­space hub. This initiative considers the launching of a new corpora­tive image of Hélice (already started), several promotional marketing actions, the broadcast of general and specialised media, and the dissemination through new 2.0 communication channels and social networks. To summarize, the goal is granting the cluster its own joint and powerful brand, to become a benchmark of all the companies of the Andalusian aeronautical industry in the main national and interna­tional events.