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Clusters of Aerospace Suppliers Share Innovation Capabilities

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CLASSIC (Clusters of Aerospace Suppliers Share Innovation Capabilities)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2019-07-31

This project has been carried out by three mature regional cluster organisations operating in France (ASTech – Paris region), the UK (Midlands Aerospace Alliance - MAA) and the Netherlands (Netherlands Aerospace Group - NAG) that each undertake innovation support activities in the high-growth aerospace industry.

One of our common challenges is how best to design and utilise cluster mechanisms, including cluster organisation service delivery, to address a recognised strategic weakness in Europe’s aerospace supply chains. Despite often high levels of technical know-how, many smaller companies have a low rate of product and process innovation. Our shared goal is to accelerate rates of innovation in aerospace supply chain companies so they are better equipped with new products and new processes to compete in global markets and thus retain and grow high-skill, high-wage aerospace supply chains in Europe’s aerospace clusters.

Our organisations have developed what is considered within our regional clusters to be good and successful – possibly excellent -- practice. A range of services is delivered, in part by mobilising the clusters themselves as a resource. Relevant service delivery systems include intensive business networking, delivering small grant competitive collaborative R&D programmes, innovation mentoring, R&D match-making, working closely with regional Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) to obtain support for aerospace suppliers and supporting consortia of companies and RTOs to apply for R&D funding from national funding programmes -- all activities which from our perspective are designed not only to increase the rate of SME innovation itself but through this to improve the effectiveness of innovation ecosystems as a whole.
This project uses our inevitably-diverse expertise based on these experiences to comparatively benchmark the recognised good practice and create a Design Options Paper that contextualises this within the broader range of service delivery models. We then have a clear plan to share the resulting knowledge for maximum impact, first within our own clusters, secondly across the big community of European aerospace clusters, and thirdly with the broader innovation/SME and cluster policy communities which work in other economic sectors.
Our organisations have developed what is considered within our regional clusters to be good and successful – possibly excellent -- practice. A range of services is delivered, in part by mobilising the clusters themselves as a resource. Relevant service delivery systems include intensive business networking, delivering small grant competitive collaborative R&D programmes, innovation mentoring, R&D match-making, working closely with regional Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) to obtain support for aerospace suppliers and supporting consortia of companies and RTOs to apply for R&D funding from national funding programmes -- all activities which from our perspective are designed not only to increase the rate of SME innovation itself but through this to improve the effectiveness of innovation ecosystems as a whole.
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