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New Federal Funding for Hamburg Aviation

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Federal Ministry of Research convinced by internationalisation concept of Hamburg’s aviation cluster: up to 4 million euros of funding over 5 years

Following on from its victory in the Leading-Edge Cluster competition in 2008, Hamburg Aviation can once again enjoy support at a federal level: within the framework of the High-Tech Strategy, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing up to 4 million euros of funding over the next five years to support the internationalisation of Hamburg's aviation industry. Specifically, this is about the establishment of a 12-million euro transatlantic exchange and collaboration programme with Montreal's aviation sector. In the future, Hamburg's companies, universities and institutions will cooperate closely with their Canadian colleagues. In the selection procedure, Hamburg Aviation and its concept prevailed over top-level competition from other leading research groupings.

With its funding programme, "Internationalisation of Leading-Edge Clusters, Forward-Looking Projects, and Comparable Networks", the Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting a total of 11 projects aimed at the international networking of highly innovative German regions. The selected projects were evaluated by an independent expert committee chaired by DAAD President Margret Wintermantel. They will be officially recognised by the Federal Ministry on 30 June as part of the 3rd International Cluster Conference.

"Germany must maintain its position as a world-leader in the export of high-tech goods in the future. The new initiative will help companies, universities, and research institutions to participate in international innovation processes, actively shaping them," says Federal Minister for Education and Research, Johanna Wanka.

"This renewed success in a competition conducted by the federal ministry is a fantastic confirmation of the work that our network has done in Hamburg's aviation sector over the past few years. At the same time, it confirms that we are on the right track with the regional strategy we produced in collaboration with all players in 2014," emphasises Dr Franz Josef Kirschfink, Managing Director of Hamburg Aviation.

The international cooperation with Montreal is to take place on three levels: cluster management, industry, and research. The aim of the exchange and networking is to draw the two aviation locations closer together in terms of focus, and to jointly explore such innovation issues as the automation of production processes, fuel cell technologies, and new approaches to training and education. Alongside definite project funding of three million euros from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the local industry will contribute the same amount, matched by another six million euros being brought to the project from the Canadian side. BMBF is also making further funding of up to one million euros available for concept development.

"This federal funding allows us to build a transatlantic bridge between two aviation centers that complement each other in an outstanding way. Both Hamburg and Montreal are important international hubs in the aviation industry, and they are both very strong in the area of research," says Roland Gerhards, CEO of the Center of Applied Aeronautical Research (ZAL).

Montreal, the largest city in the province of Quebec, has a population of 1.6 million. The aviation sector in the city employs some 40,000 people, representing almost 50% of the jobs in the entire Canadian aviation industry and 70% of the industry's research and development workforce. The largest aviation employer is Bombardier, the world's third-largest aircraft manufacturer, which focusses on regional and business aircraft. Montreal is also home to the helicopter manufacturer Bell, the engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, numerous other system vendors, suppliers, universities, and research institutions, making it one of the most diverse locations in the industry. The global aviation organisations IATA and ICAO are also based there.

"This cooperation will open up access to new companies, supply chains, and research networks for players from both cities. This is very attractive, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises," says Ingo Martens, Vice President of the Hanse-Aerospace suppliers' association. "The different focal points in many areas makes collaboration with Montreal particularly exciting."

Within Europe, Hamburg Aviation is already outstandingly well connected. The cluster provides the coordinating office for the networking initiative of European aviation locations, the European Aerospace Cluster Partnership (EACP), established in 2009. This EU-funded network currently represents 34 regions from 13 nations, including Russia and Turkey. Issues include strengthening the convergence of training standards along with the expansion of collaboration between western and eastern European aviation centers.