Located in North West Italy, Piedmont is the second largest region: it has an area of 25,400 square kilometres and a population of 4.396,293 million (in 2016).
The region, bordering with France and Switzerland, is surrounded by the Alps: mountains occupy 43% of total territory. The resident population is quite cosmopolitan: almost 10% of the resident population is composed by foreign nationals.
Seventh in the world and fourth in Europe, with sales of over 8 billion € and a workforce of 39,000 employees with high levels of specialization, the aerospace industry represents the largest manufacturing sector in Italy in the field of high-tech integrated systems. In Piedmont, the aerospace sector is one of the productive and scientific excellences confirming the regional vocation for technological innovation. Moreover Piedmont boasts a complete aerospace supply chain that is quite unique in the panorama of Italian aerospace cluster. The region hosts the largest aerospace cluster with more than 15,000 employees working for 400 different companies, with an annual turnover of around 6.6 billion €. This is hardly surprising considering that the industrial area surrounding Turin (the capital city) hosts a range of leading players in space and aero-structure segments.
The regional aerospace industry has a good ability to operate internationally, as certified by the amount of programmes – both commercial and military – in which local companies play a significant role. Some of the most renowned products with the contribution of Piedmont industry: A380, B787 Dreamliner, Typhoon, the new JSF fighter, the ISS (International Space Station), the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the GOCE satellite and Ariane 5, the Europe’s largest rocket launcher. More than half of SMEs boast foreign companies among their clients, both European and overseas.
Smart Specialization Strategy (S3)
Piedmont Region has identified the following areas of innovation in its S3: Aerospace – Agrifood – Automotive – Cleantech – Textile – Mechatronics – Life Sciences. The spectrum of technological and manufacturing know-how is wide within the region: metallurgy, mechanics, electromechanics, electronics, manufacturing and processing of plastics, rubber and all materials used in many complex systems. Attention to technological innovation is constant, as assessed by European Innovation Scoreboard and its description of Piedmont as a Strong Innovator region. Many projects promoted by the regional government are focused on aerospace sector supporting large partnerships among enterprises in order to increase expertise and excellence of the aerospace industry.
- Several regional players stand out both at the national and international level: Alenia Aeronautica, Thales Alenia Space, Avio, Selex Galileo, Microtecnica etc.
- 400 SMEs operating in accordance with technological and manufacturing processes compatible with the technical standards (quality, accuracy, ability in handling special materials etc.) required by the sector.
- Regional government (Regione Piemonte) spent the last decade in supporting actively the aerospace industry through two key initiatives:
- in 2005 it has set up the Piedmont Aerospace District to coordinate all institutions supporting the sector, as well as to gather inputs from all the regional aerospace stakeholders. The outcome is a jointly developed R&D technology platform;
- in 2007 it has set up the Torino Piemonte Aerospace (TPA) – a project promoting a selection of 400 local top class aerospace companies to international players.
- Thanks to the presence of some academic institutions and specialized research centers – whose activity in the aerospace sector is of great relevance in terms of engineering training and research & development – Piedmont provides the necessary support to design and R&D activities to sustain businesses.
- Strong commitment of academia and research institutions to the space sector such as the Center for Space Human Robotics (CSHR) of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Politecnico di Torino, founded in 1859 and considered one of the most prestigious technological institutions: according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) it is the 1st in Italy and the 8th in Europe in 2013 as far as Engineering/Technology and Computer Science.
- At regional level many other organizations are involved in the aerospace sector with different roles.
In the end the regional aerospace sector has been able to establish effective working partnerships thanks to an organised and structured cooperation between academia, R&D, companies and public institutions.