The Italian multinational Leonardo is flourishing in Provence thanks to its new investment

success story
The Italian multinational Leonardo is flourishing in Provence thanks to its new investment
Paris Air Show 2023: The Invest in Provence award is presented to Fabrizio Maria Boggiani, Leonardo's Senior Vice President of Customer Support & Service Solutions
12 July 2023 / Energy, Grow your business, ITER

Leonardo is playing a key role at ITER and has new offices in Aix-en-Provence

When the Italian defense and aerospace multinational Leonardo took over Vitrociset in 2019, it was betting that the synergies between the two companies would be a recipe for success. Five years later, the growth of their subsidiary in Aix-Marseille is proving Leonardo right.

Boosted by a long-term contract to develop diagnostics and remote handling systems for the ITER project, Leonardo recently opened offices in Aix-en-Provence and is recruiting more than a half dozen new employees. Both initiatives were supported by Provence Promotion and the multinational is now well-placed to benefit from new contacts and opportunities in the Aix-Marseille metro area.

Already Italy’s top industrial company and a global leader in the aerospace, defense, and security sectors, Leonardo has expanded its activities in the world of Big Science thanks to its acquisition of Vitrociset, which is playing a big part in ITER, the landmark €20 billion project that has 35 countries working together to prove the viability of clean fusion energy.

In 2019, Leonardo concluded the deal to take 100% ownership of Vitrociset, an Italian services company that had close to a thousand employees worldwide at the time, including a small team based in Provence. The acquisition was made so Leonardo could enhance its capacities for complex systems in defense, aerospace, transportation, and infrastructure projects.

Vitrociset set up in Provence in 2016 when it began working with ITER’s diagnostics division and the firm was later selected to help develop robotics for the remote handling systems. The company originally had about 20 people working in Saint-Paul-lez-Durance, which is just beside the ITER site, but as the team grew, notably following the acquisition by Leonardo, and new opportunities arose, they began looking for a bigger, more central location.

Aix-en-Provence’s software services ecosystem is a huge advantage

With support from Provence Promotion, leaders from Leonardo began visiting potential locations in the Aix-Marseille metro area and eventually decided on office spaces at the Campus Arteparc just outside of Aix-en-Provence. Along with its excellent logistics and transportation options, Aix-en-Provence was chosen thanks to its community of technology and software services firms.

“Aix-en-Provence was exactly in line with what Leonardo wanted and it has a network of companies active in our area, which is on the software services side,” explains Fabrizio Maria Boggiani, the Senior Vice President of Customer Support & Service Solutions at Leonardo. “When we arrived, we didn't know about the area and Provence Promotion was very helpful for the logistics of the installation.”

Along with providing support for the relocation of their offices, Provence Promotion also helped introduce Leonardo to local business networks, including competitiveness clusters, the Italian Chamber of Commerce for France in Marseille, and the TEAM Henri-Fabre industrial and technology platform.

To honor Leonardo’s investment in the Aix-Marseille-Provence territory, Bernard Deflesselles, the President of Provence Promotion, and Bernard Kleynhoff, the President of risingSUD, presented Fabrizio Maria Boggiani with the Invest in Provence award during the Paris Air Show, which ran from June 19 to June 25.

ITER continues to serve as a driver of jobs and economic development

Leonardo’s growth in the Aix-Marseille metro area is closely linked to its activities with ITER. As the company’s contributions to the project have become more significant, it has needed to recruit more talent. The firm now has a team of 30 people and is currently looking to fill seven positions. There are also plans in place for further hiring in the future.

“We believe we can continue to grow,” says Fabrizio Maria Boggiani. “We are very much focused on what ITER is doing. The project is going to run for many more years, and because we offer very specialized resources, we hope to expand our role. At Leonardo, we are used to these types of large projects, so our plan is to be here for the long term.”

Leonardo is currently on multiple framework contracts that run to 2026. Its team is working alongside an international group of scientists and engineers to develop control systems at both ITER and the European agency Fusion for Energy. Once the construction phase is complete, experiments will be held at ITER until 2040 and beyond.

The quality of life in Provence helps attract and retain talent

As Leonardo expands its staff, one of the best arguments they have for recruiting talent is their location in the South of France.

“We are an international team and Aix-en-Provence is really well located and close to the Marseille Provence airport,” notes Fabrizio Maria Boggiani. “It's also a very high quality of life. It's beautiful, it’s sunny, and there are mountains and the sea not too far away. We’re happy we decided to set up in Aix-en-Provence and our people are happy to be there.

In 2022, Leonardo had €14.7 billion in revenues and employed more than 51 000 people worldwide.

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