The Higher School of Economics launches Cluster Map of Russia project
The NRU HSE, supported by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises, and the Russian Venture Company hosted a three-day workshop for heads of cluster development centres and cluster management agencies. Members of the cluster community, representatives of federal and regional executive authorities and development institutes discussed efficient tools and best cluster management practices, as well as the Cluster Map of Russia project launched by HSE Russian Cluster Laboratory.
Territorial clusters is a growing innovation policy area, a growth driver for regions and the whole country, noted first vice rector of the Higher School of Economics Leonid Gokhberg at the conference “Improving Management of Russian Clusters” held on April 1 as part of the seminar.
However, there is no integrated platform yet which would allow to see all territorial clusters. A certain information vacuum is developing, believes head of the Russian Cluster Observatory (RCO) Yevgeny Kutsenko — when only the 25 pilot clusters are visible on the federal level, while there are clusters which haven’t been included in the list of pilot innovative territorial clusters or drawn into the cluster development centres’ support orbit. According to the RCO experts, there are more than 200 cluster initiatives in Russia, covering a wide range of activities. And this number is growing all the time, also in the regions where the pilot clusters are based.
The big issue is coordination and combining all cluster support measures on the federal and regional levels, noted Artem Shadrin, director of the Department of Innovative Development of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development. According to his words, “the money to support clusters is there, the problem is with quality projects” — and with the quality of cluster management.
Natalia Larionova, director of the Department of Small and Medium Businesses and Competition of the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, agrees: “We’ve learned, together with the regions, to establish centres of cluster development, work with subsidies, designed key efficiency indicators, but when it comes to a high-quality cluster management system, we are at the beginning of the road”.
Cluster support measures are way ahead of the cluster emergence and development process, believes Sergei Poliakov, director general of the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises. He noted the rather low participation of clusters in the Foundation’s programmes, specifically in “Cooperation” programme. There’s also the problem of deciding whether a small business belongs to a cluster or not. The Foundation would like to make such decisions on the basis of lists of companies — cluster members approved by the cluster management, Sergei Poliakov said.
Ivan Bortnik, executive director of the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia, founder and chairman of the Advisory Board of the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises, raised a number of questions during the seminar: How do we tell that the project you apply for funding for is a cluster project? Do you select projects in your cluster in a coordinated way?
Sergei Poliakov also noted the importance of coordination and communication throughout the whole cluster community: “Regions frequently don’t know what’s happening in other regions. What success stories there are, and what failure stories”. Possibly clusters should create a public association, he suggested. The Foundation would be willing to support it.
Infrastructural non-financial support, along with subsidies, is necessary for sustainable and efficient cluster development, noted Werner Pamminger, CEO of Clusterland Upper Austria. E.g. in Europe a supranational network of institutions was developed to help train and upgrade cluster managers, certify cluster management quality, provide analytical and information support to regional authorities implementing cluster policies. Several professional communities of cluster managers are in place; studies are regularly conducted, best practices guidelines and manuals published. The TCI network — the biggest network of experts on cluster policies and regional innovation-based development — is well known in the world, this year officially joined by the Higher School of Economics.
The HSE project Cluster Map of Russia will help to meet many information needs of the cluster community, federal and regional agencies and development institutes discussed during the seminar. The project will also serve as a tool for identifying and classifying cluster initiatives in all their diversity, regardless of the current status in the government support programmes. Implementation of the project will allow to better understand cluster development in Russia, which is in the interest of the federal and regional authorities, and inform potential investors and the expert community about the presence of clusters in particular regions and their development level.
Source: HSE web portal