By Pierre Tran – Last month, ASSONAVE and GICAN have signed an agreement which seeks to boost government support for research, development and innovation, in a bid to maintain competitiveness, the Italian and French shipbuilding trade associations said in a joint statement.
“ASSONAVE and GICAN signed a common Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap for shipbuilding and ship supply,” the trade bodies said on October 25, the third day of the Euronaval trade show.
The agreement, which covers civil and military shipbuilding, draws a roadmap out to 2050, with five sectors which require significant investment, the associations said. That government funding is needed to maintain Europe’s leading edge against Asian competitors.
That pact identifies the key technology to be jointly developed and a timeline to acquire that future know-how, Jacques Orjubin, the GICAN spokesman, told Opérationnels.
The bilateral pact sets out five critical areas for funding and cooperation:
– Green ships, comprising energy efficient and low environmental impact vessels
– Smart ships, fitted for cybersecurity, safely and onboard services
– Autonomous vessels, seeking a fully autonomous ship
– Smart offshore infrastructure, focused on environment-friendly efforts dubbed Blue Economy
– Smart yards, to boost productivity, quality and safety in building ships.
The French and Italian partners will now seek to sign up other European associations to pool RDI efforts, the trade bodies said.
In Germany, struggling shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems will be placed in ThyssenKrupp Industrials, one of the two independent listed companies to be created as the ThyssenKrupp conglomerate is split up. The other firm to be set up is ThyssenKrupp Materials.
TKMS competes in naval markets around the world, pitching corvettes and submarines. ThyssenKrupp has previously considered selling off the unit, Reuters has reported.
A Franco-Italian team is in line with European Union funding initiatives, the associations said. EU support includes a proposed €100 billion budget for the FP9/Horizon Europe project for investment in research and innovation and European Defense Fund. The latter includes two funds: defense industrial development program and defense research program.
“In this framework, this common roadmap opens new dual opportunities of civilian and military cooperation for French and Italian companies, also in synergy with the parallel agreements between Naval Group and Fincantieri,” the trade bodies said.
“The size of our industry, together with the need to guarantee the long-term defense and security of the maritime domain, depends on our present edge in maritime construction,” said Hervé Guillou, chairman of GICAN. “Shipbuilding is (a) strategic sector not only for Italy and France, but also for Europe.
“Our leadership is currently under attack by the Asian key shipbuilding countries and requires high investments in RDI to be safeguarded in the near future, as well as strong governmental support to these investments,” he added.
“The definition of this roadmap is a key step forward to ensure that the leading role played by the respective shipbuilding industries at global level is adequately reflected in the relevant European bodies,” said Vincenzo Petrone, chairman of ASSONAVE, based in Rome.
“This is intended to ensure that the (European) Commission dedicate political attention and financial resources to maintain and further develop research and investment in our industry so as to preserve our global leadership,” he added.
The European maritime industry has an annual production worth €112.5 billion and employs more than 900,000 skilled workers at more than 300 shipyards, the associations said.
Guillou is also chairman and chief executive of French state-owned Naval Group, which plans to create a 50/50 joint venture with Fincantieri next year as part of a cross-border industrial alliance.
Euronaval, which is organized by GICAN with backing from the French government and Navy, ran October 23-26.