Bringing Cluster Collaboration to the Next Level
The 5th annual cluster matchmaking conference was held in Stuttgart last week. Topics, centred on “brining cluster collaboration to the next level”, included:
- promoting cluster excellence,
- technology, and
The key focus is innovation whereby new knowledge gained acts as the access mechanism to new international markets. Over 175 clusters from 27 countries partook in ‘matchmaking’ meetings whereby cluster managers exchanged overviews of their respective activities and objectives while exploring potential areas of collaboration with other clusters.
Innovate to Internationalise
The European Commission’s emphasis of engaging more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in research, development and innovation (RDI) is an evident driver in the evolution of these innovative networks and clusters. The obvious outcome is that the commercial realisation of new, competitive products or professional services differentiates offerings when entering new markets.
Geoscience Ireland (GI) – the business development network of over 30 geo-scientific and geo-engineering companies – was a commercial response to the economic crisis post-2009 whereby the stakeholders (Geological Survey Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and 5 reference geo-companies) established and evolved an export-orientated cluster to seek commercial opportunities and tenders in overseas markets given the domestic market witnessed a sharp, immediate decline. Today, GI continues to track international projects and is enhancing its RDI profile by means sitting on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience (iCRAG) and seeking European partnering with other clusters (in July 2017, GI signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the French geoscience cluster: Pole AVENIA).
The Cluster Dynamic
Clusters, by design, represent the organised effort of a region or sector to increase its growth and competitiveness. In doing so, such initiatives draw on the collaborative efforts of the region’s firm, the
research community and government ministries and agencies. The dynamic of this trident therefore allows for high-quality, competitive research, matched with niche, flexible businesses to commercialise a mutually benefiting product or service. Governments, through policy and funding support through its ministries of, say, education, science, economic development and enterprise, coupled with the internationalisation knowledge of state-backed export agencies, provide the environment for such enterprising dynamics to evolve. The outcome is access to new partners, markets, knowledge, networks and collaboration on innovation or commercial collaboration.
Areas of Regional Specialisation: the ‘one-stop-shop’
The marketability of such successes through case studies of product success, academic excellence and positive market sentiment toward regions all contribute to regions being considered an area of economic specialisation. A commercially-orientated export strategy will further compound the internationalisation already developed by successful RDI activity.
Andrew Gaynor, Business Development Manager of Geoscience Ireland (GI), attended the Stuttgart conference and identified, through ‘matchmaking’ sessions and networking with fellow cluster managers and directors, that the commitment from state agencies is a key support to developing aspects of its economies as areas of regional specialisation. Indeed, SMEs, equipped with innovative products as developed in collaboration with research institutions, allows for niche products and professional services to enter new markets, with national support mechanisms to provide the incubating and development support required.