Expressed in terms of numbers, 49 cluster representatives from 37 regions from 17 different European nations and 3 transatlantic clusters met. In order to give international guests the best possible impression of the local cluster, the three-day conference took place at the three Niedersachsen locations Braunschweig, Hildesheim and Hanover. Aéro Montréal, the Brazilian Aerospace Cluster and the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance participated in this year's General Assembly, which share similar tasks with the EACP network members, however were also able to enrich them with new perspectives. Their participation at the General Assembly followed the first global cluster management meeting at the Paris Airshow in July 2017, paving the way for the next step towards an even closer collaboration on a global scale.
The partnership between the European clusters and the overseas colleagues has been consolidated within the framework of cooperation agreements, which were solemnly signed during the General Assembly. This milestone is an important result of the EACP ABROAD project, which has been able to implement the EACP strategy owing to EU funding. In addition to the international guests from overseas, the EACP was also delighted to welcome two new members, which are now an integral part of the steadily growing European network: ACstyria from Austria and WEAF (West of England Aerospace Forum) from Great Britain were officially added to the EACP network.
During this year's General Assembly particular attention was paid to the way in which the EACP is to be further developed. This strategic question could be elucidated in detail thanks to the aid of the current RUE AERO project, which provides for an inter-cluster collaboration training to identify next steps for EACP as an strategic partnership (ESCP) by cooperating even stronger on a multilateral level . Among other things, this is a question of entering a successful, forward-looking path as a multilateral network through a targeted discussion between the individual clusters. In addition to that, it is also important that all members search for an open dialogue with their peers and find the right information and / or partners in spite of the growing diversity in the network. However, the fact that the EACP is more and more recognized and increasingly heard by the EU was the basis for the discussion on the next steps within the EACP network.
The annual gathering also functioned to inform all members about the status quo of the work within the EACP. Over the entire year, a large number of topics is being worked out by the members of the four different working groups, whose results are shared with all members of the EACP network during the General Assembly. Thus, the EU-funded projects have emerged from the acute themes of the working groups. Then the EU funding gives the projects the necessary momentum and strength to reach the ambitious goals.
The discussions soon showed that many members of the EACP are currently working on specific national and regional support mechanisms for their supplier structure and that an exchange would be promising. In short, the new working group “Supply Chain” was founded. The objectives are, inter alia, to exchange information about the different national programs and to identify their respective "best practices". This method concretizes the basic idea of the EACP: If all share a part of their knowledge and experience, 42 clusters are invaluable. Once again, all members can then use the best possible support to their own companies, research institutes and public institutions.
The diversity and quality of the network was again impressive this year and after three days all the participants returned to their regions with a long list of new ideas, tasks and contacts.
The EACP thanks in particular to Niedersachsen Aviation for the organization and hospitality as well as to all members who make the EACP and the annual General Assembly an informative and always unique event.