Estonian Aviation Cluster, member of European Aerospace Cluster Partnership
In December, the Estonian Aviation Cluster had an opportunity to introduce itself to other aviation clusters all over Europe. The following article was published in the EACP newsletter.
Established in 2018 with a current membership of 30 organisations, the Estonian Aviation Cluster is dedicated to fortifying aviation as a pivotal economic sector within the country. Its primary objectives include amplifying its influence on the Estonian economy, fostering collaboration across the entire value chain, attracting foreign investments, creating favourable conditions, capitalizing on the growth opportunities presented by new technology, enticing top talent, and opening avenues for ambitious startups (www.eac.ee ).
To support the cluster’s endeavours, the Estonian government instituted a measure for cluster projects funded through Enterprise Estonia from the European Regional Development Fund, which the aviation cluster joined in 2019. The overarching aim of the aviation cluster project was to augment the sales revenue and added value of member companies throughout the entire value chain, boost visibility in markets, and enhance the innovation capacity of partners. The project spanned until August 2023.
The specific objectives outlined for the aviation cluster encompassed targeted development activities, development projects, joint marketing initiatives, and measures for closer internationalization. Eligible activities, with a minimum cumulative value of 1.2 million euros, received cluster project support of up to 50%.
Despite the active project period coinciding with a challenging epoch for the aviation sector, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, cluster members successfully achieved the outlined goals in various practical realms. Amid these adversities, persistent efforts were made to explore alternative pathways, forge new collaborative opportunities, and fortify existing relationships, ensuring the sustainable growth of the aviation industry and establishing a robust foundation for the future. Member companies engaged in development activities within their respective domains, participated in fairs and conferences, and cultivated partnerships with both Estonian and international entities.
The primary sub-activities of the cluster project included the Aviation Cabin Product Development Program, led by Magnetic MRO; Air Cargo development by Tallinn Airport; development of the Unmanned Traffic Management system and elements of the U-space operating environment by Estonian Air Navigation Services in collaboration with various ITC companies; and WingOps software development for the Continuing Airworthiness and Maintenance Organization by Pakker Avio.
These collaborative endeavours have played a crucial role in strengthening the Estonian aviation sector, enhancing its influence on the national economy, promoting collaboration, and driving ongoing advancements.
Looking ahead to the near-term future, the cluster’s main priorities involve ensuring its sustainability by capturing new funding programs and expanding its membership base. It aims to guide domestic regulators towards policies that enhance aviation competitiveness while minimizing non-value-added bureaucracy. Another key focus is on developing and enhancing new sub-activities that engage cluster members, reflecting the successful approach taken during the aforementioned recent projects supported by Enterprise Estonia funding.
Author: Jaan Tamm