When an entire region takes off

Nothing can compare with the opening up of Europe – here in the context of the INTERREG inter-regional cooperation programme - to develop the competitiveness of a growth sector such as aeronautics. The proof lies in Aviation Valley.

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The SNECMA engine manufacturer has moved to Aviation Valley The SNECMA engine manufacturer has moved to Aviation Valley

Context

In South-East Poland, “Aviation Valley” suits its name. Proud of its hundred-year-old history in aeronautics, it is home to most of the companies in this sector and training centres for pilots and scientific research organisations. The majority of these companies are situated in the voivodship of Podkarpackie (Low Carpates), the capital city of which is Rzeszów. It notably has a Polytechnic College, which offers a specialist course in aeronautics construction. Although the region is disadvantaged (nearly 18% unemployment) and essentially rural, it has many advantages: low labour costs, nearly 16,000 highly qualified employees, proximity to an international airport and a planned motorway which will connect the South-West and West of Poland.

The sky’s the limit with INTERREG

In this context, the Aviation Valley Association presented a project to bring together businesses in the aeronautics sector in order to boost the existing and future SME sector. It forms part of the Regional Framework Operation INTERREG IIIC ADEP (Action to Develop, Experiment and Mainstream innovative support schemes to assist territorial development). The programme was conducted between 2004 and 2006 for the principal purpose of training and development, emphasising the links between local, regional, national and European levels. An essential component of the programme was therefore the funding of sub-projects in each region, in order to promote the exchange of good practices. The entire second year (2005) was therefore devoted to the establishment in each region of pilot projects such as this.

All manner of activities

These pilot projects included inter-regional events and joint activities on territorial development, innovation, competitiveness, support for micro-businesses and local employment. Aviation Valley took part in the following activities: study visits in partner regions (Pohjois-Pohjanmaa in Finland and the Border, Midland and Western Region of Ireland), conference on the outlook for the aeronautics industry in the enlarged Europe (164 participants from 17 member States), and a workshop on the usefulness of clusters at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, in France.

Local activities included promoting the voivodship as a high-tech industrial region, developing a supply chain at minimal cost, cooperation between researchers and industrialists, developing of the CEKSO training centre, creating a business database, producing promotional films and brochures, creating an Internet portal for Aviation Valley (which has over 4,000 recorded visits per month) and participation in seminars and forums, etc.

Results

Aviation Valley demonstrates that cooperation is a strategic factor for growth. The cluster of aeronautics players in South-West Poland and exchanges with partner regions have made it possible to enhance the sector’s competitiveness whilst boosting a region whose development is lagging behind. The aeronautics industry in Europe as a whole has also benefited in terms of its position in the global market, as well as reducing regional unemployment. Since its creation on 11th April 2003, Aviation Valley already has fifty members.


Draft date

01/08/2006