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Interview of Prof. Andreas Strohmayer, Professor for Aircraft Design at University of Stuttgart and Member of the Board of Directors of EASN as Industrial Advisory Officer

EASN recently has published a policy paper on its strategy for activities with the European industry. In this context the interview with Prof. Andreas Strohmayer in his role as Industrial Advisory Officer within the EASN Board of Directors illustrates motivation and proposed actions for establishing a closer link between EASN and industry and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) active in the European aeronautics and aerospace sector.

Q1: Why should EASN, an Aeronautics Science Network, strengthen its links to industry and SMEs?

As laid out already in the EASN constitution, our primary aim is to advance aeronautics sciences and technologies in Europe and furthermore to "promote, encourage, coordinate and focus joint efforts between Universities, Research Organizations, Industry and SMEs which are active in Europe in the field of aeronautics and aerospace". In the last 10 years a strong network was established within European universities and research institutes, facing fragmentation of academia and disseminating knowledge. Now it is time to strengthen the links to industrial R&D entities to assist in further spreading 'academic' knowledge to industry and SMEs who in the end create tangible value in Europe.

Q2: Would you see a difference in establishing activities with large scale industry compared to SMEs?

The large European manufacturers (OEMs) and system suppliers from the beginning have been proactive key stakeholders in establishing a common European R&D funding strategy. Accordingly these large OEMs today actively participate in the definition of the European long-term aerospace R&D priorities. Smaller OEMs and suppliers on the other hand - while an important factor for European competitiveness - are less consolidated and have a more limited influence in such priorities definition. Having a background in this sector of the aerospace industry myself, I know that especially the system suppliers have a vital interest to invest in R&D and to participate in European funding schemes in order to stay competitive. Strengthening the link of SMEs to the EASN network could help them to overcome inherent hurdles to participate also in larger international programs. EASN in a way could become a kind of "virtual R&D department for SMEs.

Q3: What proposition can EASN offer to industry and SMEs already today?

First of all, our statutes provide for Associate membership both for entities such as SMEs and industries subscribing to the EASN objectives as well as for individuals from SMEs and industries which are active in aeronautical R&D and cooperate with academia. An Associate member has full access to the benefits of an EASN membership. This can especially be of interest with respect to the creation of new and efficient international partnerships for common R&D activities. Also our EASN Conference and Thematic Workshops are open to industry and SMEs and give an ideal platform for dissemination of R&D project results and for networking opportunities.

Q4: What additional activities could be established to further enhance the link between EASN and industrial stakeholders?

For a start we should more intensively promote the opportunity to become Associate member of EASN, emphasizing the benefits of an EASN membership. In doing so we could create a larger industrial base within the EASN members. The same is valid for the participation in our conferences and workshops. Furthermore we can actively address industrial members to participate in collaborative proposals to European calls. Our regional structure in particular would allow to identify and address suitable SMEs on national level for specific R&D topics.

A participation of EASN in events organized by industry, such as for example the ASD conventions, could help to establish and further strengthen the contact with entities representing European industry such as ASD, ASD-EGAMA or EACP, the European Aerospace Clusters. Such sustainable contact with industry representatives is of particular importance when an aligned definition of upstream long-term research priorities is required in the preparation phases of European Research Framework Programs.

In order to formalize our connection with stakeholders outside of academia we have decided to establish a "Stakeholders Advisory Board" to the EASN BoD with a strong participation of members from industry.

Q5: What is your personal motivation to promote these activities as part of EASN BoD?

In about 15 years in industry I have learned that strong and reliable partnerships are key to success. The same is true for academia and the European research community, where we have to make sure that we continue to lead in the fields of technology and innovation and that we contribute from our side to a competitive and at the same time sustainable European aeronautical industry. Having now changed from industry to academia, EASN as the academic stakeholder in European aeronautics therefore for me is the place to be to play a part in further enhancing our sector.

Date posted: December 12, 2017, 11:32 am

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