Innovation dynamics in aeronautics and Embraer in Évora: towards a distributed platform for entrepreneurial initiatives, new employment and skills development
This project assesses technological advances, business configurations and value chains in modern aeronautics, within a context of increasing complexity and uncertainty. Particular focus is put on the Portuguese case, with the ultimate goal of understanding (and contributing to) the creation and evolution of an aeronautics cluster in the country and securing the role of Portuguese firms as centers of excellence in aeronautics. At the core of the Portuguese aeronautics cluster is the recent installation of two new Embraer plants in Évora, Portugal. These two plants constitute a singular case: although being fully Embraer, both plants are also considered first tier suppliers of Embraer Brazil. This requires the full integration of their activities within the needs of Embraer Brazil while also keeping a competitive edge with respect to other suppliers in Embraer's supply network. It is important to assess if the Embraer-Évora strategy fosters a network of potential suppliers, suppliers and subcontractors in Portugal, strengthening firms’ technological capabilities and the Portuguese aeronautics cluster as a whole. Within this context, ICT is crucial to addressing supply chains issues between manufacturers and suppliers and data production and management are essential to anticipate problems and opportunities in the supply chain management, supporting decision-making at five levels: i) identification, capacitation and qualification of new technology based suppliers (for specialized products and services); ii) monitoring suppliers performance in order to pro-actively address risky situations or opportunities, such as the increase in production pace; iii) identification of backup suppliers, iv) assessing network effects that endanger or synergize the supply chain, and v) supporting the implementation of advanced methods of manufacturing. Much of the work of this project focuses on building and managing unique data sets, culled from direct and indirect indicators, and ICT-based platforms among OEMs and suppliers. In addition, the project focuses on the creation, integration and development of new technology and technology-based firms in the value chain of the aeronautics sector that can serve as key economic agents to foster and facilitate technological innovations. While Embraer's plants have been an important focus of the work, the investigators have worked more broadly to explore strategies by which Portugal firms might adopt new advanced technologies and develop new markets and comparative advantages. The project’s key results and analyses are expected to unveil the necessary technological advances, opportunities for new employment and skills development, especially in the Portuguese aeronautics cluster as well as its impact on regional development; bringing, therefore, a contribution to academics, entrepreneurs and policy-makers.