Globally, the aerospace and defense industry is a strategic sector, expression of high-level technological expertise and characterized by the ability to impact the nations’ economies, the relative adjacent markets and the society patterns as a whole.

At international level, the global defense segment is expected to experience continued declines in revenues, due to decreasing military spending, principally in the United States (U.S.) and Europe. Conversely, the commercial aircraft segment is expected to reach record levels of revenues over the following years. The Asia-Pacific region is expected to become the world’s biggest air transport market by 2016, while traffic is rising in the Middle East and in Latin America as well.

The Aerospace research and technology scenario embraces a collaborative exploration of transversal ideas and concepts which have been applied in designing new products and solutions to shape future trends. Therefore, in order to meet the most relevant demand issues such as sustainability, affordability, reliability and safety, the role of innovative stakeholders in bringing leading edge technologies will be paramount. In particular, there is space for opportunity in that areas where change represents a compelling factor for companies in order to remain competitive in an increasingly challenging and dynamic eco-system. The key success factors which have been identified are the following:

  • need to innovate continuously, reinvest and grow core capabilities (technology, infrastructures and skills);
  • launch of large research programmes involving different players;
  • more collaboration in the technology research areas within the Aerospace community and across other sectors;
  • investments in technology roadmaps and reinforcement of supply chains.

For instance, the European Commission has identified the so-called "Key Enabling Technologies" for the strength of the EU’s industrial and innovation capacity; mastering these technologies means being at the forefront of managing the shift to a low carbon economy. They play an important role in the R&D, innovation and cluster strategies of many industries and are regarded as crucial to ensure the competitiveness of the European industries. In more detail, the program Horizon 2020 has established to meet the challenge of “smart, eco-sustainable and integrated transport system” for the aeronautics sector, while the space research sector is required to safeguard and develop a competitive space industry and foster innovation-driven solutions based on technological research.

The EC also launched  its Flightpath 2050 report in March 2011, which defines the vision for the Aviation and Air Transport industries of Europe. These initiatives should be seen as opportunities to strengthen the competitive position of Europe and stimulate a sustainable growth based on the ability to innovate, generate new ideas and take them through to market (requiring both R&D as well as strategic capital investment).

Beyond that, however, the Aerospace industry will continue to be an efficient converter of science into wealth and a strong driver for scientific and technological advance. The resulting critical mass of people (young experts from science, technology engineering and mathematics backgrounds) with world-class skills in science and technology, will build centres of gravity for high-tech enterprises, attracting inward investment from high-tech companies. 



At national level, the aerospace industry plays a strategic role for the country and it is characterized by the presence of various regional districts and clusters. Piedmont, Lombardy, Lazio, Puglia and Campania are the regions that host these clusters.

The industrial and technological know-how of these groupings is very extensive and relies on local excellence (fixed wing systems, rotating wing systems, propulsion systems, software...). Over the last few years the trend  has been the creation of regional inter-clusters which acts as strategic players in order to rationalize the supply chain and leverage the experience of the Italian research centers and universities. With its industrial backbone of smaller enterprises, in fact, the Italian industry has made an effort to support these subsystem integrators and foster the internationalization of local resources. 

Starting from the analysis of the current national supply chain technological scenario (by considering regional districts, market players, skills, core technological areas and patents), ICM Industrial has carried out a baseline map of the Italian Aerospace technology competencies, R&D projects, areas of excellence and collaborative initiatives (with a focus on the internationalization activities and the smart specialization areas).

The result is the IRM® Aerospace Technology & IP Data Bank: a structured and continually updated set of know-how, information bases and best practices which turn a vast and dispersed knowledge/information concerning the Italian aerospace sector into valuable insights and opportunities for skills integration and exploitation.

Tracking almost 1.000 entities (including 800 SMEs and 150 members among universities and research centers), this platform of interconnected information capitalizes the know-how, experiences and best practices derived from several projects involving SMEs, clusters, large corporations, technology specialists of the aerospace industry.