Branching and Spin-Outs
As it seems in the HAv case, it is not only entities representing related sectors who enrich the cluster with then activities, but also new related subspecialisations can arise. These processes are further enhanced by branching and the emergence of new segments, like urban ah mobility (UAM), including the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It is expected that following the current hype, the sustainable development of new sectors would materialise, which necessitates the development of appropriate infrastructure, provision of technologies and certificates, aerospace integration and social acceptance (HAv 55th Forum).
As noticed by one cluster expert, for many years, there were almost no new start-ups in aerospace. However, recently, also thanks to digitalisation, new ones are emerging and the more firms, the more positive are the network effects. ZAL, with co-ordinated projects (WinDroVe www.untemehmen- region.de/de/991992.php), supports co-operation across industries and the emergence of new areas like UAM. In fact, thanks to networking, many companies learned about that hidden potential. (CE4) ‘They were unaware that many others are representing this field, and there is a chance for collaboration'.
Companies providing KIBS and representing other sectors, are enriching the HAv composition. (CE4) ‘Recently, the new robot company—coming from the automotive industry, entered Hamburg’. It offers the proven solutions in the automotive industry, which can also be usefiil in the aviation sector, such as the new machine learning type or AI.
The digital connection of product, place and production alters the production chain and offers the possibilities to combine the components in multiple ways. It results in a cluster that is diversified from its aerospace origins to the wind turbine industry, as well as shipbuilding and automotive engineering (Menzel & Buxbaum-Couradi. 2018).
New sub-sectors can merge grounded in local competences. Lightweight industry followed a strategy of emancipation and differentiation. As a result, a spin-off cluster, the CFK Valley e.V., has emerged (Buxbaum-Conradi, 2018; https://cfk-valley.com/en/association/club/). It was founded in 2004 in Stade, primarily through the initiative of the locally-based Airbus gr oup. It has some 30 years of CFRP (carbon fibre-reinforced polymer) experience. It counts more than 100 selected regional, national and international companies and institutes, with expertise covering the entire value chain of the high-performance, fibre-reinforced composites. Adopted in 2015, Strategy explicitly states ‘diversification, internationalisation, regional value creation and training’ as its significant goals.
One of the innovative flagship projects run in HAv is GROLAS a ground- based landing gear system. This is disruptive technology, enabling aeroplanes to land without the undercarriage, which could save around 20% of fuel. This would revolutionise the whole of aviation, but it will take time to get there. There is still lobbying and the interests of many traditional suppliers and manufacturers, preferring classic configurations. (CC1) ‘They will not change unless they are forced to, for instance, due to environmental requirements’. Another new project with the HAv office as the project leader, is REALISE (www.realise.aero), which stands for runway, independent, automatic, land and launch system. It reflects the fust stage of ‘realisation’, as well as the need to realise the potential behind it. It acknowledges the disruptive innovativeness of this technology and also the readiness of the whole concept.
HAv is not only developing new, genuinely innovative products like the ones mentioned above, but also moving or stretching into related areas, such as ah' urban mobility or UAVs. Some firms are already involved in work on UAV-drones. They have been developing a minimum viable product (MVP), which can already satisfy customers and provide feedback for future product development.
HAv experts stress that aviation has been developing for centuries, and it is impossible to make any further progress by merely ignoring the past decades of achievements. Instead, by building on it, in light of digital transformation, it is necessary to re-defme the concept of mobility. (CS1) ‘In the future, we will not talk just about the aviation, but broadly about mobility’. Future problems cannot be discussed and handled only within one industry. There is an obvious need to add other perspectives.
On a Final Note
Moving into new areas, branching into innovative related fields of activity (UAM) or even developing new market segments, like the cases of the REALISE project or GROLAS innovation show, require intensive and extensive co-creation (Redlich, Moritz & Wulfsberg, 2019; Prahald & Ramaswamy, 2004; Vargo, Maglio & Akaka, 2008). These ideas would not have been possible, if it had not been for the close interactions between different actors (B2B)—airport, aeroplane manufacturer or airlines.
The results of an anonymous online survey among cluster experts and cluster firms revealed that 54% agree (strongly agree and just agree), that the entrepreneurial ecosystem necessary for successfiil digital transformation.
is provided in the cluster; 32% remain undecided, whereas 14% do not share this opinion (strongly disagree and disagree).
The co-opetitiou processes diagnosed in HAv—co-operation spaces when there are common interests, as well as legitimate and stimulating competition spaces when necessary (Drewello, Bouzar & Heifer, 2016)— resemble the concept of the fractal company. The results of the online survey revealed that 68% agree (strongly agree and just agree) that 14.0 introduces new business models with co-operating and competing units, and the cluster embodies such interactions; 23% remain undecided, whereas 9% do not share this opinion (strongly disagree and disagree).
The co-creation mentioned above implies vanishing boundaries among entities and stimulates the development of a connected company. The survey results showed that 60% agree (strongly agree and just agree) that 14.0 embodies the concept of ‘connected enterprise’ (blurred firms’ boundaries), and the cluster reflects this concept; 26% remain undecided, whereas 14% do not share this opinion (strongly disagree and disagree).