Part of complete coverage on
Avio head: Europe risks becoming a 'half-baked cake'
April 12, 2012 -- Updated 1920 GMT (0320 HKT)
- The head of aerospace firm Avio says a new model is needed for European growth
- Europe must innovate to avoid being "squeezed" by the muscle of China and the U.S.
- Avio is the prime contractor for the Vega rocket system, first launched in February
- The system is for small satellites, which Avio believes will drive the aerospace market
London (CNN) -- Europe risks being squeezed between "low-cost China" and "high-tech America" unless it can rediscover the knack for innovation, says the head of aerospace company Avio.
Francesco Caio, the CEO of Turin-based Avio, told me that Europe's prospects were bleak unless it could find a "new frontier of innovation."
"Europe runs the risk of (being) squeezed between the muscles of low-cost China and the innovation of high-tech America," said Caio, a corporate high-flyer whose resume includes heading Cable and Wireless, Indesit and Olivetti.
"I am genuinely concerned that if Europe is not determined to go all the way we run the risk of having a 'half-baked cake' -- which would be very dangerous if ... digested."
Europe runs the risk of (being) squeezed between the muscles of low-cost China and the innovation of high-tech America
Francesco Caio, CEO of Italy's Avio
European leaders need to face the fact that "an industrial model that has worked very well to create wealth and growth has come to an end," he said.
"That is the challenge and that is the role of leadership in Europe -- (to) make sure we have the ideas, vision and new ability to mobilize the great forces and strength that Europe has for growth."
Avio is the prime contractor for Vega, the new European rocket system designed to launch the small satellites that are expected to be the main driver of the aerospace industry.
Watching the Vega's maiden launch from the Guiana Space Center in February had been exhilarating, said Caio.
"You put seven years of development on the line -- you have a few seconds in which the system needs to perform particularly well," he said. "It was a relief in the first 12 seconds, the first 24 seconds, and then it was off."
Made from carbon fiber, the Vega uses a solid propellant which gives it faster speeds than the Ariane 5.
"I think it lowers the barriers to entry for satellite launch, and for the exploration and exploitation of space technology, for smaller companies, university centers," he said.
Of the nine satellites launched into orbit by Vega rockets so far, seven had been developed by European students.
Despite the gloom surrounding his country's economic fortunes, Caio said there were "two stories" for Italian business at present.
"Companies that have a mix of domestic and export are doing very well, indeed, because they have hooked on to growing markets," he said. "People who have been focused just on domestic market? Yes, they are suffering."
Avio was now looking to Brazil and China for growth, said Caio. "We're going where new consumers are learning the beauty of flight."
Part of complete coverage on
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Turkey is a "source of inspiration" to show how Islam and democracy can go hand-in-hand, the country's deputy prime minister has told CNN.
April 5, 2013 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
Bright, shiny and emblazoned with names like Ferrari and Lamborghini -- these brakes are almost as stylish as the cars they're hidden within.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
EasyJet's new London to Moscow route is an opportunity to attract more business travelers, according to the low cost airline's chief executive.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
If you're a business traveller in Europe, you'll no doubt have complained at length about the regions' airlines, be it the cost of a plane ticket or the quality of the food or the delays.
March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT)
European demands for the steel industry to cap emissions by 2020 are "unachievable" with current technology, according to an ArcelorMittal executive.
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
At Oknoplast's production site outside Krakow, Poland, windows of all shapes and sizes are stacked up ready for delivery.
February 22, 2013 -- Updated 1647 GMT (0047 HKT)
We receive them almost on a daily basis; text messages alerting us that our taxi is outside or our dentist appointment is tomorrow.
February 22, 2013 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
What happens when you mix detergent, cosmetics and a bucket load of adhesives? You get a multi-billion dollar German corporation called Henkel.
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 1824 GMT (0224 HKT)
It is said that the devil would never dare cross the River Tamar into Cornwall for fear of ending up as a filling in a Cornish pasty. The legend, it seems, could just be true.
February 7, 2013 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Europe needs to cut back on its red tape and be more competitive if it is to succeed on a global stage, according to Diageo's chief executive.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
Booms, busts and bubbles are all jargon you might associate with today's troubled Irish economy. But now you can add "beans" to that list.
January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Multinational companies see Ireland as the "gateway" to investing in Europe, says the boss of the country's largest food company.
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
UK Prime Minister David Cameron's voiced his intentions to let the British people vote on Europe. The mayor of London says it's all part of democracy.
January 11, 2013 -- Updated 1326 GMT (2126 HKT)
It started with one man peddling lavender and rosemary oil at local markets -- now it's a business valued at $4.8 billion.
January 10, 2013 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Jaeger LeCoultre CEO Jerome Lambert talks about the benefits of being part of a larger group.
December 27, 2012 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest explores how European business leaders have dealt with the financial climate in 2012.
December 27, 2012 -- Updated 1451 GMT (2251 HKT)
CNN's Richard Quest looks at how European businesses have performed amid a cold climate of austerity.
Click here to read more of the top business stories from across the continent brought to you by the Marketplace Europe team.
Today's five most popular stories