Its time for lift off: aerospace meeting cities

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An aerospace innovation hub helps these destinations attract stellar meetings and events. Rochelle Long reports


Southwest France’s Aerospace Valley is Europe’s major competitiveness cluster in the fields of aeronautics, space and embedded systems. Headquartered in Toulouse and covering Occitania and Nouvelle Aquitaine, it represents some 130,000 industrial employees and 8,500 researchers and scientists in the sector. The city is home to the headquarters of Airbus, and almost all the major European aerospace companies have a local presence. A new 56ha aerospace research and development campus feeds innovation, with incubator Toulouse B612 accelerating activity in the sector. The knowledge core is boosted by research and training hubs ISAE-SUPAERO, IPSA (the Polytechnic Institute of Advanced Science) and IRT Saint-Exupéry.

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Vue d'ensemble - Les Jardins de la Cité de l'espace[/caption]

For an immersive event experience, venue opportunities include the Cité de l’espace, which offers life-sized space vehicles, a planetarium, and IMAX screen as well as dedicated event spaces. The Aeroscopia museum is ideal for a gala dinner amongst the collection of historic aircraft.

Recent events in the city include the 30th Planetary Congress 2017, organised by the Association of Space Explorers and welcoming 100 astronauts from around the world; and the International Planetarium Society Conference in 2018, complete with post-event tour to the Pic du Midi Observatory in the Pyrenees. This June, the Smart Space event comes to Toulouse, jointly hosted by ESA Space Solutions and French national space agency CNES.

The inaugural Global Space event will take place in the city in June 2020 at the new Toulouse Métropole Parc des Expositions. The event aims to reflect the greater scope for the application of space technologies, with the first edition built around the open development of space.

Paulo Monteiro, Global Space Event Manager, says of the decision to host the event in the city: “Toulouse is the European Space Capital, concentrating 25% of the space-related jobs in Europe. And of course it’s the HDQ for worldwide space leaders: Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space and OneWeb. The Toulouse area offers creators, investors and project developers a unique ecosystem that combines large groups, universities, renowned private and public laboratories as well as a very rich network of SMEs and start-ups.”


Montréal is the third largest aerospace hub in the world behind Toulouse and Seattle, with the industry recognised as a key driver of Canadaʼs economy. It is home to Aéro Montréal, Canada’s largest aerospace cluster, including industry giants Pratt & Whitney, Boeing, Bombardier, Airbus, and General Dynamics. The city specialises in design, R&D, certification, fabrication, and manufacturing, with some 70% of Canadian aerospace R&D conducted in the area.

The city plays host to the biennial Aerospace Innovation Forum, as well as other related events.

Professor Hany Moustapha, Professor & Director of the Innovation 4.0 Hub at École de technologie supérieure, was instrumental in securing GPPS Montreal 18 – the Global Power & Propulsion Society Conference in 2018, and ASME Turbo Expo 2015 for the ASME International Gas Turbine Institute (IGTI). He says: “Montréal with its 250 aerospace companies and major research centres was able to attract these two big aerospace conferences. The participants benefited from various industrial tours as well as networking with Montréal world-class researchers.”


Singapore’s strategic location in Asia has led it to become an aerospace hub. It is home to more than 130 aerospace companies, including ST Aerospace, Goodrich, Rolls Royce and Pratt & Whitney. With the growth of Changi Airport and the new Changi East Industrial Zone, further investment is being made in related research and innovation, including major global outposts such as the new Lufthansa Innovation Hub.

The new Jewel Changi Airport, with its indoor waterfall and lush greenery, hotel and aviation facilities, offers an ideal space for aviation-related, experiential events at the Cloud9 Piazza.

This year Singapore has already hosted the Global Space & Technology Conference, inter airport South East Asia, and SMART Airports South East Asia, with the Asia Pacific Airline Training Summit, MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) Asia-Pacific, and CAPA Asia Aviation Summit still to come.

In February 2020 the city state will again host the biennial Singapore Airshow, Asia’s largest aerospace and defence event. The 2018 show attracted 54,000 trade attendees to its business forums and state-of-the-art exhibition zones.

Other high fliers:


Anchored by Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, Washington State’s innovation ecosystem is home to more than 1,400 aerospace-related companies, including a growing space cluster. The industry is supported by knowledge centres including the Center for Excellence for Aerospace & Advanced Manufacturing, Washington Aerospace Training, & Research Center and the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation.


Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire remains the showcase for the UK’s aerospace sector, and Farnborough Aerospace Consortium (FAC) is the region’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing hub, incorporating major players such as BAE Systems. Neighbouring Oxfordshire is home to the Harwell Space Cluster, incorporating 89 space organisations including RAL Space and the UK Space Agency.


The Indian Aerospace Industry is witnessing unprecedented growth, centred in Bengaluru. Home-grown Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has created a big ecosystem of parts, components and systems suppliers in the area; global players Boeing, Airbus, Honeywell, UTC (Collins), GE, and Rolls Royce are among those that have established engineering and R&D centres in the city.

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.


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