This article was translated by John R. Bopp

Engineer Live, published by Setform Limited, has just published an article penned by Paul Boughton talking about clusters that are leading the world in innovation in the automotive sector.

Three such clusters are talked about in the article.  Two are in countries that are regularly recognized as world leaders in the sector, Great Britain and India.  The third is the automotive cluster in the Basque Country.

The importance of this sector on the world stage may surprise many, but it is true.  Curiously, the influence of our economy and industries on the world stage is usually not known or recognized.  This, we believe, is due to a perfect mix of two factors:

One, a longstanding tradition in the French and Spanish media of not attributing “Basque” to any person or company that manages to do something good in the world.

Two, our society’s obsession with not accepting or recognizing our own successes as a society.

The automotive sector is huge in our economy.  Despite only having 3 million people we have two factories, Mercedes and Volkswagen, and, more importantly, the automotive parts sector, which, as we’ll see, is a world leader.

Given that our country is divided among three administrations, it’s not easy to get global data for exactly how important this sector is for the whole of our economy and society.

Most of the data we do have comes from the ACICAE, and these are the numbers the Engineer Live article uses.  But it’s important to remember that this sector also is also key in other parts of our country, such as Navarre.

According to the website Invest in Navarra, this sector in this part of the Land of the Basques has 112 countries worth €5.1B and directly employs 12,000 people, representing 4.3% of all employment in that region.  Automotive exports totalled €3.3b in 2013 (including those of Volkswagen), representing 45% of all exports of goods from Navarre.

ACICAE, the Automotive Cluster in the Basque Autonomous Region (BAC) joins together all the companies in the sector with facilities in this part of our country.  It’s made up of over 300 companies with more than €14 billion in revenue and employing over 75,000 people, 36,000 of which are in the BAC.  Not included in those impressive numbers is the Mercedes factory in Vitoria, making more than 120,000 vehicles annually, employing 3,000 people.

To succinctly understand the importance of this sector, it’s worth taking two minutes to read the ACICAE’s own presentation on its website.  Or, if you prefer, read over the data from that presentation:

Introduction to the Basque Automotive Cluster, Acicae from Grupo SPRI

We have no doubt that the evolution of this sector is due to the the hard work of the businessmen and workers, and the vision of those who back in the dark days of the ‘90s understood that the economic future of our country could only be bright with a strong business collaboration, R&D&I, and excellence.  These things drove the creation of the Cluster, and all the others that make up the BAC, and with them they created one of the bases of the survival of our industrial fabric.

At the time, some, many of whom are the same ones who will now tell you how things ought to be done, criticised and laughed at those ideas and projects, calling them “smoke to fool society”.  We’re still waiting for some apology, but all we find is still the same negative attitude, alongside the barely-disguised hope that things will someday go south again, so that they can again be right.

Engineer Live – 6/1/2017 – Gran Bretaña

Clusters driving automotive innovation

While autonomous vehicles are making most of the headlines in the world of automotive engineering, behind the scenes, the industry is proving that collaboration rather than autonomy is the road to success.Manufacturing clusters are not a new concept. First noted in the UK in the early 1900s, highly concentrated and localised industries, otherwise known as industry clusters, became home to a rising population and lucrative activities.

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