Until recently, the Ukrainian spacetech community was represented by 5 regional space clusters (including Dnipro Space Cluster, “DSC”). They cover all of Ukraine (with the exception of its occupied territories) and have more than 200 participants – leading universities, scientific and municipal institutions, as well as state and private enterprises. These clusters represent key competences in the aerospace industry, both upstream and downstream, including innovative developments and services in Industry 4.0. On January 20, 2022, these clusters founded the All-Ukrainian Association of Innovative Space Clusters (OIKK) in Odesa, one of the main goals of which is to promote internationalization of the innovative activities of its members.
With eruption of the hot phase of the war in February 2022, the newly created innovative spacetech ecosystem in Ukraine faced the following challenges: risk of degradation and practical nullification of hi-tech centers, innovation and expertise that were inherited from the Soviet era or developed recently, and the need to bolster contribution of the sector in solving defense and security problems. Instead, development and implementation of innovations abroad is accelerating in aerospace industry – in particular, the EU and Canada finance these processes through post-pandemic recovery funds and other programs.
Ukrainian technologies and production capacities, particularly in the rocket and space industry, would increase competitiveness of all parties interested in development of innovative products. Thus, international cooperation represents a mutually beneficial and truly effective opportunity not only to preserve, but also to strengthen and develop innovative ecosystem in space and other high-tech sectors in Ukraine.
That is why, at the end of June 2022, DSC and OIKK agreed with partners from Greece, Cyprus, Canada, Georgia and Ukraine to establish and deepen multilateral relations with a focus on innovation and R&D in aerospace and marine technologies. Colleagues from the mentioned countries worked within the Tanais Innovation and Aerospace Supercluster Initiative (TIASI) – an international colaboration and investment platform (“meta-cluster“) led by Canadian GC company. TIASI brings together stakeholders in aerospace and other hi-tech industries and provides access to funds from the EU and other sources for implementation of innovations.
Such an agreement was preceded by development by partners during 2021-1H2022 of the multilateral cooperation agenda for the coming years with aim to significantly increase growth in the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean region and globally as well as increase participation of Ukrainian partners in projects in the following sectors: Aerospace, Advanced Manufacturing, Shipbuilding, Energy Infrastructure and Tooling, 3D-printing, while developing Education&Training, R&D and Marketing&PR.
The first important element of this agenda is the meeting of the Ukrainian-Greek intergovernmental commission, which is planned for the 4Q2022. DSC and its Ukrainian and foreign partners have prepared strong agenda proposals for a comprehensive Ukrainian-Greek cooperation program in strategic industries, and have started consultations on preparation of relevant Ukrainian and Greek positions. The meeting of the Commission has every chance to become a turning point in constructing strategic partnership between the key players of Ukrainian, Greek, Cypriot and Canadian aerospace and some other high-tech sectors, as well as in internationalization of the relevant clusters and their associations.
The mentioned partnership will be created with Greek and Cypriot companies, universities and government organizations, which, having a certain industrial and scientific and technical potential of their own, have avoided cooperation with Ukraine in fields of high technologies and development of “Blue Economy” for a long time. Therefore, the partners, as guidelines, proposed separate initiatives and measures implemented both by their own forces and in cooperation between them, among them significant projects for development of aerospace and marine industries, as well as programs for development of relevant innovative ecosystems.
TIASI brings together stakeholders in aerospace and other innovative industries and allows access to funding through the EU and other sources for implementation of new innovative technologies. Agenda of cooperation in the international TIASI meta-cluster is built on the basis of bilateral and multilateral projects development. DSC, OIKK, our colleagues from the Maritime Cluster of Ukraine, the Canadian-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, etc. generate lion’s share of proposals for cooperation. GC acts as the main matchmaker for innovative development in meta-cluster, because each of the partners has signed a bilateral agreement with this company.
Among other things, international metacluster’s directions of cooperation for the next 3 years are defined as:
Upgrading infrastructure of leading universities involved in the development programs of both upstream and downstream innovative space technologies;
Training of specialists in the field of aerospace and other high technologies, in particular for solving problems of “Blue Economy”;
Implementation of joint scientific and technical projects in the field of aerospace technology, marine industry, mechanical and power engineering, biomedicine, IT, etc;
Commercialization of research results;
Establishment of joint research and development and training laboratories;
Implementation of joint educational projects and programs in the parties’ areas of interest;
Systematic exchange of academic and professional staff and PhD students from partner institutions, and research fellows, in order to create agreed curricula and other mutually beneficial joint ventures;
Creation of joint Innovation Technology Centres.
Participation in Erasmus programs.
Opening joint programs for receiving scientific degrees and academic grades.
These areas of cooperation are discussed during high-level meetings (in ministries and other state bodies of Ukraine, Greece, Cyprus, etc.), international online conferences. The first major online exchange took place in June 2022, the second is planned for September 30, 2022. It will discuss the strategy for development of space activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea region. The working group is intensively preparing the mentioned measures.