The Mediterranean Aerospace Matching is an international event that will take place from 22 to 24 September 2021 at the Marcello Arlotta airport in Grottaglie, Taranto, Apulia Region, Italy.The event, led by the Aerospace Technological District (DTA), currently sees among its organizers the Apulia Region, ITA (Italian Trade Agency), ASI (Italian Space Agency), ENAC (National Agency for Civil Aviation), Aeroporti di Puglia (AdP), ARTI (Regional Agency for Technology and Innovation) and Puglia Sviluppo, with the partnership of Leonardo and Intesa Sanpaolo.

At the centre of the initiative is the role of start-up and innovative SMEs in the aerospace field, in particular in the advanced mobility and smart cities sector with a focus on unmanned platforms, infrastructures for the control and management of airspace and space technologies applied to drones (Earth observation, telecommunications and integrated applications, satellite navigation and global positioning).

The Mediterranean Aerospace Matching event intends to offer a platform to Italian and European start-ups and innovative SMEs to meet the key players of the aerospace industry and international investors for exchange and business opportunities.

The event is also meant as a bridge to connect graduates of ITS-higher technical institutes, university undergraduates, graduates and PhD students to aerospace companies.

The event will focus on issues related to the role of space in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, advanced air mobility, smart cities and drones, sustainability and space economy.

During the three days there, participants can follow live drones demonstrations aiming to highlight the benefits that these emerging technologies bring to citizens.

The event will take place in hybrid format.


Context: Puglia, leader in the Aerospace sector

Apulia region play an important role in the aerospace sector; at national and international level. This is confirmed by the numbers of companies (over 80), of employees (including researchers over 7,000) and the value of exports which in 2018 was 561.6 million euros, with an impact on national exports that exceeded 9.7%, and in 2019 an export turnover of 738 million euros, up by 31.8 % in 2019 compared to the previous year and an incidence on the national export result of 11.9%.

Thanks to the high level of skills, the Apulian companies are present in many international aerospace programmes. The skills concern the design, construction, integration and support to complex systems of aircraft and helicopters; the design and maintenance of engines for military and civil aeronautics and space; the design and development of hardware components and advanced software systems for aerospace, civil and military applications, the design and production of micro-satellites, the development of applications in the field of Earth observation, satellite navigation and telecommunications.

Research, innovation and training have been crucial for the growth and consolidation of the Apulian aerospace and have contributed to strengthening its reputation internationally. Thanks also to the scientific and technological excellence of its partners, the DTA has been strengthening the competitiveness of the Apulian production system since 2009. The District proposes and implements research, training and innovation projects for the development of key technologies; the creation of new professional figures; the construction of infrastructures at the service of research and innovation. It operates in a system logic that allows it to achieve increasingly ambitious objectives at national and international level.

Why an international event at Grottaglie Airport?

“Marcello Arlotta” is the name of the airport located in Grottaglie (Taranto) already recognized in 2014 as a “test bed” for the experimentation of innovative aerospace solutions, and officially designated in October 2018 as “Spaceport”, that is to date the only one in Italy.

Launched by the DTA in partnership with Aeroporti di Puglia (AdP), the “Grottaglie Test Bed is a national and international centre of excellence for: testing products and solutions in the field of remotely piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS); innovative systems for the control and management of air traffic (ATC) and integrated systems for the optimal management of traffic volumes and flows both in the airport and in the flight phases. The Grottaglie airport hosts today industries, at national and international level, carrying out R&D activities in various technological fields

In October 2020, ENAC approved the regulation for the construction and operation of spaceports, starting the process that will allow Grottaglie airport to be used also as a national spaceport (decree no. 250 of 2019, Minister of Infrastructures and Transport). This marks an important step for a national independent access to space, opening also new strategic opportunities in the space economy field.



Objectives of Mediterranean Aerospace Matching (MAM)

The MAM will be a place to exchange expertise and showcase products, solutions and services in the following areas: unmanned systems, USPACE (ATM), applications and services from the utilisation of satellite technologies/data, and autonomous vehicles. During the event start-ups present challenges and opportunities in the development of unmanned systems (drones) and related satellite technologies to national and international investors, with a special focus on the involvement and contribution of the best Italian start-ups and innovative SMEs.In particular, the event aims to:

  • Offering opportunities to start-ups and innovative SMEs to meet international aerospace companies and international financial investors
  • Encourage further integration of the Apulian aerospace system as an excellent partner in the technological development of the aerospace sector at national and international level
  • Highlight the importance of new drones services for benefits of citizens
  • Enhance the Grottaglie area as a place of industrial development with a strong vocation for research and innovation, two important factors that can contribute to the economic growth of countries
  • Facilitate experimentations and development of prototypes within the local ecosystem thanks to the presence of international players
  • Draw the attention of the local area for potential development of the aerospace sector in all its aspects (training, employment, entrepreneurial etc.)
  • Align the offer of higher education to the technological challenges and needs expressed by the businesses present or settling in the territory

In the medium to long term, our ambition is to:

• attract the interest of the economic, industrial, financial system at an international level to the process of identifying Grottaglie as the point where experiences, knowledge, investments, production, research, investments in the sector and in particular in the world of advanced mobility meet

• verify the premises to identify Grottaglie as the ideal site to bring back to Italy a major international trade fair event (Mediterranean Perimeter – on the theme of advanced mobility)

The Actors

Apulia Region, ITA (Italian Trade Agency), Aerospace Technological District (DTA), ASI (Italian Space Agency), ENAC (National Agency for Civil Aviation, Airports of Puglia (AdP), ARTI (Regional Agency for Technology and Innovation) and Puglia Sviluppo, with the partnership of Leonardo, Intesa Sanpaolo and Intesa Sanpaolo innovation centre.The event is proposed and financed by the Apulia Region (co-financing POR Puglia FESR-FSE 2014/2020, Action 3.5 “Interventions to strengthen the level of internationalization of production systems”) and ICE-Agency.

Concept, key themes, participants

The Mediterranean Aerospace Matching is an international event, in hybrid format, and includes a rich program of conferences, round tables, exhibitions and in-flight demonstrations.

The conference will explore themes ranging from the new challenges of the space economy to the role of start-ups and innovative SMEs for economic development and to issues related to sustainability and advanced mobility This last topic will be addressed in smart cities and territories, Technology and Solutions and Digital Infrastructure for U-Space / UTM – rules and regulations.

The hybrid format will use the virtual platform “Fiera SMART 365”, developed by ICE-ITA where companies, start-ups, organizers and institutions will be able to set up their own virtual stand, exhibit their products and have B2B contacts and meetings.The pitch arena will be dedicated to start-ups, which will allow young entrepreneurs to challenge each other by presenting ideas and solutions: the best of these for quality and innovation, evaluated by a special jury.

The themes of the event will also include a panel dedicated to education and micro-entrepreneurship where teachers and young Apulian “start-uppers” will share experience their innovative and creative projects.


During the MAM, ARTI-Strategic Agency for Technology and Innovation of Puglia Region organizes a program of career guidance and dissemination initiatives aimed at undergraduates and PhD students of the Apulian Universities and higher technical training courses (ITS) consistent with aerospace activities. The activities deal with emerging technologies and professional profiles in the aerospace field.

Students who cannot be in Grottaglie airport, due to COVID-19 restrictions, can still attend all the events of the MAM program online, broadcast in live streaming.


Speed ​​Professional Networking (in Grottaglie airport premises)

During the three days of the event, one-to-one meeting sessions are scheduled, each lasting 10 minutes, during which students illustrate their profile, skills, and the job they strive for to companies present at the MAM. For startups, SMEs, and large groups, this is the opportunity to get in touch with young Apulian skilled resources.


Headhunter’s corner (both in Grottaglie airport premises and in streaming)

Human Resources Managers of institutions and private operators illustrate in short speeches the aerospace sectors job, the opportunities, and methods of recruiting.


For further information: info@arti.puglia.it

When and where

The event will take place on 22, 23 and 24 September 2021 at the airport of Grottaglie (TA).The period and the location also allow for the promotion of the area, including the possible extension of the guests’ presence in Puglia even on weekends.