April 10, 2017

Spain's Thriving Aerospace and Defense Industry

Photo of representatives from
Spanish aerospace and defense
companies companies visiting Boeing's
factory in Everett, Wash.: Extenda
On Mar. 27, 2017, my colleague, Yan Tang, and I had the pleasure of attending the US-Spain Aerospace and Defense Business Forum, which featured 18 Spanish companies from the autonomous region of Andalusía seeking business opportunities in the United States. The forum was sponsored by Extenda-the Trade Promotion Agency of Andalusía, a public company owned by the Andalusían Regional Government, and hosted at the Seattle office of K&L Gates. While you can download the event booklet containing detailed information on each company, this blog post highlights a few that captured my attention.

Photo of Solar MEMS
sun sensors and replica
USB flash drive:
Yan Tang
Solar MEMS Technologies specializes in designing and developing sun sensors for high technology applications in space, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and renewable energy markets. Headquartered in Seville, Solar MEMS' sun sensor is a device to measure the incident angle of the sun rays when they go through a small window. The sun sensors developed by Solar MEMS were designed using sensor on chip technology: they have small size, low weight, reduced cost, high accuracy and reliability thanks to the characteristics of the miniaturization over MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems). Solar MEMS developed this technology to use it on satellites and aerospace applications, but nowadays it has been transferred to other fields of application as solar energy, where the sun sensor improves reliability and features, and it reduces costs. Solar MEMS' customers include the European Space Agency (ESA), National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Beihang University in Beijing, China.

CARBURES is a technological industrial group specialized in the manufacturing of composite parts and structures and in designing engineering systems, which operates in the aerospace, automotive, civil works, railway and security industries. Founded in 1999, CARBURES has developed its own technological and manufacturing processes to produce composite structures, allowing the Cádiz-based company to branch out into different industries. With respect to the aerospace and defense sectors, CARBURES has over 15 years of experience as a tier 2 supplier to these industries. In addition, the company plays as key player in the manufacturing of composite parts and structures for the industry giants and the world's most relevant tier 1 companies. Currently, CARBURES, produces composite parts for a large part of the most modern civil and defense airplanes. 

Since 2004, the Hélice Cluster has been promoting the development of the Andalusian Aerospace Cluster supporting all of the cluster's stakeholders such as universities, technology centers, small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as to providing subcontractors with the technical resources to ensure a better integration with contractor companies. Its main clients include Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, Bombardier, and Dassault.

As stated in a press release dated Sept. 28, 2016: "The Andalusían Aerospace industry had a turnover of €2,343 million in 2015 and created 1,052 new jobs, according to the 'Aerospace Annual Report 2015,' carried out by Hélice Cluster. According to the Andalusían aerospace data, the industry contributes 1.62% to the Andalusían GDP." Entrepreneurship is growing throughout Europe including Spain and the Hélice Cluster provides an ideal setting to help startups connect with strategic partners and customers.

Photo of US Coast Guard
HC-144A Ocean Sentry: Airbus
I had the pleasure of being part of a U.S. delegation of journalists, attorneys, and business professionals to Andalusía in 2010. The trip, which was sponsored by Extenda, provided me with the opportunity to tour the Aerospace Technology Park of Andalusía (Aerópolis) in Seville. My visit included a tour of the final assembly line for the Airbus A400M airlifter and HC-144 Ocean Sentry, a medium-range, twin-engined aircraft used by the United States Coast Guard in the search-and-rescue and maritime patrol missions. Seven years later, it is encouraging to see Spain's aerospace and defense industry thriving.

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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