Clusters & Cities Network
Start date: Sep 30, 2008,
End date: Dec 30, 2011
Clusters have become the focal point of many new policy initiatives in the last few years. With the goal of making Europe "the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge based economy" the Lisbon agenda generated interest in new approaches to economic policy for competitiveness. Mobilising the potential of clusters is seen as critical to reach this objective. Clusters - proximate groups of interconnected companies and associated institutions in a particular field - are important because they allow companies to be more productive than they would be in isolation. Supporting clusters has therefore become an important element in the economic development efforts of city-regions. However, the nature and impact of such efforts vary enormously, making it difficult for decision makers to find the right combination of tools that most effectively support cluster. City-regions are searching for greater knowledge in this policy field.The objective of Clusters & Cities is to improve the effectiveness of cluster support policies in larger European city-regions. Through the analysis of cluster policies in large European city-regions, this project will produce highly operational policy recommendations targeting each partner city on how to strengthen their cluster support policies. To improve criterias of critical mass and cluster competitiveness, the project will also faciliate the creation of links between clusters from partners cities. Clusters & Cities is based on a partnership consisting of Lyon (Lead Partner), Barcelona, Munich, Dortmund, Leipzig, Manchester, Helsinki, Budapest, Gothenburg and Eindhoven. All cities are actively involved in cluster support and holds experience in this policy field. The partnership includes Eurocities, the network of major European cities and the cluster policy experts from the Stockholm School of Economics.Project output will be highly operational seminar reports that will identify possibilities for improving the effectiveness of cluster policies. As a result, the economic performance of the cluster will also be improved. Policy officers will improve their knowledge on cluster support from their participation in the partner seminars and the staff exchange programme. As a result of the inter-cluster links established, the project will contribute to improving the economic performance of European clusters. Achievements: The objective of CLUSNET is to allow for analysis of cluster support policies in large european cities and support the creation of inter-cluster links. CLUSNET will organise seminars in partner cities each with a relevant theme defined by the hosting city themselves. In order to analyse each cluster case during the seminars, an analytical framework will be applied: "The Cluster Initiative Model" focuses on 1) the cluster setting, 2) cluster objectives, and 3) the processes influencing cluster performance and support policies. This framework applied to all CLUSNET seminars will assure methodological coherence and a positive learning curve for CLUSNET members. After each seminar, a report will produce recommendations for local policy makers for to improve the cluster policy support and thereby the performance of the cluster. Project activities got started with a kick-off meeting in Stockholm in April 2009 allowing partners to commit, discuss methodology and project perspectives. Secondly, the CLUSNET team met for the Manchester seminar in June 2009 which focused on the setting up of a new media cluster MediaCityUK. MediaCityUK is a redevelopment of a former brownfield which aims to become a leading international media cluster. After exchanges with the local stakeholders, the CLUSNET team identified the following issues to be adressed in its further development 1) The cluster should focus more strongly on how to improve its innovative performance. 2) Strong linkages should be promoted between industry and venture capitalist in the setting up of MediaCityUK and between the university sector and industry. 3) Inter-cluster linkages should be promoted which is particularly beneficial in the digital and media sector often dominated by SMEs. 4) Finally, it was stressed the MediaCityUK should strengthen its branding efforts crucial to gain international visibility. Next the CLUSNET team met in Lyon early October 2009 to work with the setting up of new Lyon based cleantech cluster stimulating the local economy and orientate Lyon towards a more green economy. The seminar drew up a number of suggestions to be taken into account in the further development of the cluster: 1) The vision and the strategy for the cluster (perceived as very top-down driven) should have a stronger buy-in from local stakeholders, which also would allow a greater implication of SME's. 2) The choice of the new cluster manager is crucial, especially when taking into consideration the complex local policy-and institutional landscape. 3) The cluster is currently too focused on public funding and should strive for stronger private engagements. By the end of November 2009, the CLUSNET team met in Leipzig for a seminar focusing on the Leipzig Biotech cluster into which the city has invested greatly. On the basis of the policy exchanged, the CLUSNET team suggested: 1) The cluster suffers from a lack of private industry involvement. 2) Also, there is a lack of angel and venture capital in the region and generally it was suggested to develop a strategy for FDI handled by a (currently non-existing) business development agency. 3) The international profile of the cluster could be developed through active participation in EU funded activities, like CLUSNET or other similar programs. 4) To attract FDI and talent, a stronger brand should be developed for the city region in general and the BioCluster in particular. Policy recommendations from all seminars have been communicated to local decision makers which in all hosting cities has launched a process of policy evaluation. Complementary to this, CLUSNET seminars have allowed cluster managers from partner cities to participate and engage into exchanges with colleagues from partner cities. Intercluster-links are being established between CLUSNET members crossing european borders.
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