A recipe for strong clusters

A recipe for strong clusters

REG X’ network meeting on the 16th of May 2012 was facilitated by the recognised cluster expert from New Zealand, Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, and he gave the participating cluster facilitators good advice on how to deal with the challenges that their clusters are facing right now.

Ifor Ffowcs-Williams

Get the documentation for the effects of the cluster collaboration, focus on the core competencies of the cluster, make personal contact with the cluster members, invite the business community into the cluster boards and make sure to always have more than one income source.

Thus, a handful of good advice from cluster expert, Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, to the Danish cluster facilitators on the REG X network meeting on the 16th of May 2012.

Ifor Ffowcs-Williams is one of the cluster experts who have gathered the most practical experience from most of the world, and in the autumn of 2012 he will be publishing a book with, according to him, the 12 steps of development through which a cluster should go in order to succeed in creating growth.

The participants of the REG X network meeting got a preview of the book and caught a glimpse of the step by step guide in which Ffowcs-Williams collected his experiences.

Ifor Ffowcs-William’s own interest in clusters started when he was working in the export promotion system of New Zealand and saw how important business clusters are to exports as well as the quality of the export products. Since then, he has been working with start-up and critical revision of clusters all over the world.


Strengthen your cluster

On the network meeting, cluster actors from all over the Denmark talked about the problems they are facing in their everyday life, and that became the starting point for a discussion on how to strengthen the Danish clusters.

The most important conclusions from the network meeting were:

  • Danish clusters must be better at documenting their effect, and they must be more proactive in relation to collecting data on to how large an extent the cluster is creating a better bottom line for the individual member company and for the local community.
  • Many Danish clusters cover a wide and undefined focus area. Instead, the individual cluster must find its core competency within the area. For example, working with ’cleantech ’ is too undefined – instead, a core competency could be ’wind energy’. The most important thing is that the cluster’s core competency is chosen from where the cluster is the strongest in global competition. When a cluster has defined its core competency, it is equally easier to gather its members on projects and a common objective. If a cluster has several focus areas, it should consider establishing sub clusters.
  • A cluster facilitator must be in personal contact with his or her members. It is important that the facilitator knows the cluster members and knows their needs and competencies, and that knowledge of the members can only be established by personal contact. Thus, a cluster facilitator cannot only be working from his or her desk.
  • The cluster facilitator/the cluster management must have a solid knowledge of the commercial development of the cluster’s focus area. Therefore, to a larger extent, the business community must be represented in the Danish cluster boards and cluster secretariats. At the same time, this will help the cluster improve at adjusting to the needs of the business community.
  • Many Danish clusters are primarily financed through one or few income sources. In order to secure the survival of the cluster and in order to avoid that the organisations behind the primary income sources dictate in which direction the cluster should be headed, it is important for the cluster to have as many income sources as possible.

See the problems to which the cluster actors pointed on the network meeting and the solutions discussed on the meeting HERE.