Of course clusters should be international

02/08/12

Of course clusters should be international

The cluster world has put on the global glasses, because today, internationalisation is a must if Danish companies are to thrive and grow. And cross-border collaboration pays off – even for the clusters, both Michael Nedergaard of Alucluster and Philip Stankovski of Cluster 55 believe.

by Trine Vu
 

Læs om Cluster 55

”In Denmark it is not profitable that everybody looks after their own affairs. Internationalisation is very important for the industrial companies in this country, and as a cluster, we can contribute to initiating projects and pushing development, so that the companies succeed”, says Michael Nedergaard, Manager of Alucluster.

Alucluster is Denmark’s national knowledge centre for aluminium and has recently entered into close collaboration with two German clusters in Bavaria. This collaboration is to pave the way for the member companies of Alucluster being able to deliver products to the German automobile and aviation industry.

The collaboration with the clusters in Bavaria is the result of a personal meeting between cluster actors in Denmark and Germany, respectively and it is based on both parties having a need, Michael Nedergaard explains:

”It is of the utmost importance that both parties have an interest in the collaboration. In our collaboration with the German clusters, the Germans need sub-suppliers to keep their production running, and we, on the other hand, have a desire to get our exports up and running.”

Michael Nedergaard feels that to a large extent, the internationalisation of clusters is about how to strengthen European collaborations in general.

”In Europe, we cannot compete with the Chinese on prices, but fortunately, we are capable of many other things, which we are to strengthen through close collaboration. There is no doubt that collaboration and knowledge sharing is the road to take for Europe”, Michael Nedergaard says.

 

Personal relations

Alucluster’s German collaboration began with a personal meeting, and according to both Michael Nedergaard and network responsible Philip Stankovski of Cluster 55 exactly this kind of personal relations plays an important role in cluster collaboration – not least when it comes to international collaboration.

”First and foremost, collaboration is about creating trust between people. Regardless of whom one collaborates with, trust is number one. Collaboration is when individuals meet and build up a certain confidence. People often think that international collaboration is very expensive, because it requires a lot of travelling. But there is no other way. It is very important to invest the time and resources in the personal meeting”, Philip Stankovski says.

Michael Nedergaard agrees:

”The way in which we, as clusters, handle cross-border collaborations, is very important. You don’t just send an e-mail. We use a lot of time on personal contact and we sit down and discuss things thoroughly until we find common ground. Not least because of the cultural differences, it is of major importance.”

 

Language creates trust

Language is also an important ingredient when working with building trust in collaboration partners, Philip Stankovski believes, and thus, Cluster 55 communicates in several languages – Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, English, French and Mandarin.

”As an organisation you must be prepared for international collaboration. You must show that you are internationally oriented, and you can do so through language. With Cluster 55 most of the communication is in English, which is natural to us. Our website is in English, even if we are based in Denmark and Sweden, because being international is a part of our mind-set, and we have made it a part of our image”, Philip Stankovski says and adds that many clusters still do not have an English version of their website, which is a problem if their aim is international collaboration.

 

Every cluster – its way

Philip Stankovski explains that Cluster 55 always has an eye on the price when it comes to cluster collaboration:

”The purpose of cross-border cluster collaboration is making our member companies more competitive and finding new collaboration partners for our members. Focus is always on helping the member companies and the researchers, as this is what creates growth.”

But there is no secret recipe to internationalising a cluster, he believes.

”Every cluster must find its own way”, says Philip Stankovski.

 

Read about Cluster 55

Read about Alucluster