Global Objectives for Clusters
What kind of support innovative clusters need to become world leaders in attracting investments? What affects the success of cluster policies in megalopolises? These and other issues were discussed at the II St. Petersburg International Cluster Conference; Evgeny Kutsenko, Head of the Russian Cluster Observatory, and Vasily Abashkin, its Leading Expert, took part.
Clusters are aiming for global leadership
Fostering leader clusters is becoming a priority for the Russian Ministry of Economic Development’s cluster policy. Evgeny Kutsenko, Head of the Russian Cluster Observatory, spoke about its implementation at the strategic session “Development of innovative clusters — world leaders in attracting investments”, which he also moderated.
Representatives of clusters included in the list of the project participants discussed leading clusters’ practices, competences required to increase their efficiency and productivity, and ways to improve cluster management. The common to many clusters issue of finding support for infrastructure projects with a long payback period was analysed in terms of balancing the shared and specific interests of various participants. What kind of cluster management strategies are best — project-based, or based on functional approaches? The discussion also touched upon reforming cluster management agencies, to increase participating organisations’ and cluster managers’ motivation.
Following the debates, the session participants proposed next steps on optimising the cluster management system. Firstly, stakeholders’ cooperation should be strengthened: finding areas for clusters’ collaboration with universities, inviting representatives of large companies to join cluster management agencies, and vice versa, representatives of leading clusters – to join S&T councils of corporations with public participation.
From public authorities financial support for agencies responsible for promoting leading clusters is expected, and co-funding expenditures on securing silver or gold Cluster Excellence Label. A special training programme for cluster team members will be designed. Finally, a digital cluster management approach will be pilot-tested in St. Petersburg, including an information system to support its development.
International experience of cluster development in megalopolises
Large cities traditionally serve as key nodes of production factors, but now they also provide the best environment for emergence and development of clusters. At the round table discussion on specific features of shaping and implementing cluster policy in cities, leading experts in the field shared their experience: Alberto Pezzi (Agency for Business Competitiveness of the Government of Catalonia), David Fernandez Terreros (Basque Country Economic Development Agency), Frederic Miribel (Lyon Area Economic Development Agency), and Yulin Chang (Moscow Office, Moscow-Taipei Coordination Commission on Economic and Cultural Cooperation).
Megalopolises can use support tools particularly attractive to clusters, and not just financial ones. Serving as a platform for “industry mixing”, they allow to design new cluster cooperation formats. Innovation procurement mechanisms, or providing venues for project implementation frequently act as strong development incentives. A common practice in European megalopolises is designating specific city areas or infrastructural facilities for “field testing” of various technologies, e.g. lighting and construction ones, digital and tourist services, etc.
A good example of successful cluster policy implementation is Lyon. As early as 500 years ago the city became a major silk industry centre; subsequently related competences developed around this specialisation area, not just in the textile industry but also in the chemical one. Today food, pharmaceutics, and cosmetics clusters are developing on this basis, plus automobile industry and car parts manufacturing.
Another excellent example is KID’S Cluster in Catalonia. Its participants specialise in many various industries but they are all related to manufacturing products for children — sporting goods, clothing and footwear, food, toys, etc.
International experts repeatedly stressed that major cluster policies in their regions were not implemented on the municipal level. Regional authorities act as their key originators and are responsible for their practical application.
Following the debates, the St. Petersburg International Cluster Conference adopted a number of resolutions and documents promoting an integrated approach to cluster development.
By Irina Agapova, based on Facebook posts by the Russian Cluster Observatory