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‘The More Consistent the Learning Process, the More We’ll See a Specifically Russian Type of Cluster-Based Economic Development’

On February 6, 2020, HSE University hosted an expert seminar, ‘Global and Russian Trends in Cluster Development and Regional Competitiveness’. The event was organized by the Russian Cluster Observatory based at HSE University’s Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK HSE). Keynote speaker Dr. Christian Ketels spoke about cluster policy and regional competitiveness in other parts of the world in order to further discussion about what form cluster policy should take in Russia.

The expert seminar focused on effective mechanisms to enhance regional competitiveness, successful cluster development models in Russia and abroad, and new decision support tools based on big data analysis. Opening remarks were delivered by HSE First Vice-Rector Leonid Gokhberg; Director of the Department for Monitoring, Analysis, and Forecasting of the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education Timur Bronitsky, and Director of the Department of Regional Industrial Policy and Project Management of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade Vitaly Khotsenko.

Global Trends in Cluster Development

Dr. Christian Ketels’s keynote address, ‘Global Trends in Regional Competitiveness and Cluster Policy’, drew upon his extensive work in cluster-based economic development in regions all over the world. By presenting examples of leading countries and regions, Dr. Ketels provided an overview of global trends in cluster development in order to show how regions can draw strength from cluster-based economies and contribute to the growth of their respective national economies. He also discussed how cluster policy has evolved over the past decades from ‘policy for clusters’ to ‘cluster-based policy’.

Dr. Christian Ketels is one of the world’s leading experts on cluster development who has led projects in numerous regions of the world to help implement regional cluster and innovation policies, increase competitiveness, and choose smart regional specialization. Dr. Ketels is Chief Economist of the Boston Consulting Group at the BCG Henderson Institute. He has been on the Board of Directors of the TCI Network —which will be holding its 23rd annual conference in Kazan, Russia this October—since 2007, and he has served as President of the network since December 2011. He is a Visiting Executive at Harvard Business School, where he served on the faculty between 2000 and 2017, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden. He holds a PhD (Econ) from the London School of Economics.

At the close of the seminar, Dr. Ketels stressed the importance of developing a model of cluster development that works for the Russian context. ‘I talked a lot about international experiences, and Evgeny [Kutsenko] talked about how hard it is to translate these experiences into something for Russia,’ he said. ‘You need a model that works here, and unfortunately there are no ready-made recipes. However, you have very smart people here in Russia, so I’m sure you will do that. It just requires a consistent learning process: what are we testing; what is the evidence or impact; how do we then systematically improve these approaches? The more that happens, I think the more we’ll see a specifically Russian type of cluster-based economic development that does not simply copy what works in the US or Korea or some other place.’

In Pursuit of a Russian Brand of Cluster Development

Dr. Ketels has been collaborating with HSE University to promote cluster-based economic development for about a decade. ‘HSE has been instrumental in bringing this methodology to Russia,’ he says. ‘We tried to do a little bit when we did a project with the Russian government many years ago, but there was really no data, so I think it’s great that HSE took this on and developed very interesting instruments.’

The economist noted HSE’s work not only in cluster development research, but related areas as well. ‘Here at the Higher School of Economics, I think there is a lot of very interesting research not only on clusters, which I’m very interested in, but in areas that allow them to be seen in context, which is critical. I think the work HSE is doing on cities and innovation in the regions is really interesting. Also, the methods that are being used here have a lot of potential, so I look forward to learning more about what’s going on here.’

After Dr. Ketels’s keynote lecture, five Russian experts in cluster development discussed current work being implemented in Russia, Russia-specific challenges, and burgeoning homegrown clusters. Evgeny Kutsenko, Director of the Russian Cluster Observatory (ISSEK HSE), discussed Russian trends in cluster development and the Observatory’s research agenda for 2020. Leisan Absalilova, Vice President of the Non-Profit Partnership Kama Innovative Territorial Industrial Cluster Association (INNOKAM), spoke about the preparations underway for the 23rd TCI Global Conference, which will take place in Kazan this year. Kristina Volkonitskaya, First Deputy Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovative Development of the City of Moscow, discussed an innovative cluster of Moscow. Mikhail Yugai, First Deputy General Director of the International Medical Cluster Foundation, spoke about international medical clusters, and Ilya Kuzminov, Director of the Center of Strategic Analysis and Big Data, discussed how various regions rank in their preparedness for the future.

Upcoming 23rd TCI Global Conference in Kazan

Dr. Ketels is president of the TCI Network, a global network of organizations and individuals who work with cluster-based economic development, and the organization will be holding its 23rd TCI Global Conference 2020 in Kazan, Russia this October. ‘We’re always very interested in what’s going on in Russia,’ Dr. Ketels explains. ‘There are many regions that try to do things and have various initiatives, and then Kazan came up with an interesting proposal. This will be our first time in Russia. I think foreign visitors are looking forward to seeing Kazan but also to getting a better sense of what’s going on in Russia more generally.’

 

All seminar photos in Flickr album