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LOMBARDY AEROSPACE CLUSTER ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF EXCELLENCE IN PRECISION MECHANICS
The eyes of the world's leading players in the aerospace industry are on Varese. Undisputed giants such as Boeing are in constant communication with the Italian producers who, in 2009, launched the challenge of the Lombardy Aerospace Cluster which has since become "one of Europe’s four economic engines". With Europe as its target market, the Lombardy-based aerospatial mechanics industry has now reached all continents. Varese’s aerospace industry has not only taken the route of internationalisation but is now "flying very high".
The sector is coming out of a physiological recession in terms of its trade balance which, in the last 9 months of 2010, led to a 3.1% fall in exports. However, the start of recovery in 2011 has been sufficient to reverse the trend and regain international market shares eroded by the global crisis. "In the last quarter of last year and at the beginning of 2011," according to the Lombardy Aerospace Cluster, "the atmosphere has been one of growing trust. There are no numbers on these latest trends but the improvement has been registered by small and medium enterprises that have participated in recent months in important international fairs, such as that in Toulouse in December".
In the early days, the aerospatial mechanics cartel counted on a base platform of nine partners, but in less than two years the number of members has risen to 70 and the strength of the production system has developed around SMEs. These latter constitute a solid reality, made up of 160 enterprises, plus the 25 with more than 250 employees, and 13 universities and research centres, including the National Research Council (CNR).
Over the last year, this ensemble of companies and resources has generated a turnover of € 3.8 million and provided employment to 14,500 people. Varese has thus established itself as the control room for aerospatial manufacturing targeted towards the world market if, as suggested by figures released by the research centre, approximately 38% of Italian exports is produced in Lombardy. In the first nine months of 2010, the balance of the import-export sector on a national scale was about € 1.7 million, of which € 751,000 referred to the Lombardy cluster. This northern Italian region now aims to strengthen its network of relations at national level and consolidate its productive force abroad, according to those responsible for the Aerospatial Cluster: "We plan to operate on the basis of common and shared promotion activities on the internalisation front, which is one of our priorities. Activities," stresses the Cluster, "that are designed above all to benefit small and medium-sized businesses that we want to put in a position to be able to stand on their own feet in foreign markets. Those working in the Lombard aerospatial sector have all the necessary skills and abilities. Above all, they have the credentials to be the suppliers for the most important world giants in this sector."
Boeing’s interest is proof, as shown at the recent event in Toulouse. The big names of aerospatial mechanics consider the Varese cluster an interesting research observatory for the top of the range components of the Italian market, among which helicopters, flight trainers, small satellites, equipment and avionics stand out. A production catalogue that boasts a 100-year-long year tradition has been able to reinvent itself and follow the evolution of a market such as the aerospace industry, where innovation, research and development are the key drivers of success.