All 9 partners from 8 countries represent regions/countries, where clusters are already in place as an important instrument for regional economic development, supporting innovative collaboration within industries. Now experience shows, that new technological fields emerge in the interface between existing industries. As such the regional authorities who initially set up and developed clusters in certain sectors need also to reflect on the future strategic orientation of the cluster policy.
Considering in particular the efforts towards a regional smart specialisation the policy makers face the challenge of identifying new technological developements and trends at an early stage with a high potential for boosting the regional economic growth. Innovation means not only creating totally new technologies, but increasingly cross-linking existing ones towards new developments. CLUSTERIX aims to enable regional authorities to identify, analyse and explore the potential of strategic future
cluster development through the exchange of experience and best practices between partners. This potential lies in the cross-linking of existing industrial fields of strength – within the region and between the regions.
CLUSTERIX also tackles further themes of high interest for cluster policy makers like
• funding the cluster support and its political/strategical orientation and expected impact
• pushing emerging industries through cluster development (e.g. by using public procurement)
• creating the positive framework for cross-linked cluster cooperation between the partner regions.
These issues have an innovative character since they have not been tackeld in other projects and are important in a regional landscape where clusters are now at a crossroad: quantity vs. quality, traditional industries vs. emerging industries, cooperation within the region vs. across regions.
The partnership consists of local, regional and national authorities (depending on policy level responsible in
the different states) as well as bodies governed by public law that have the mandate to design and implement cluster policy. These bodies act in the project together with their regional/national authorities, in order to ensure the project's impact at the policy level.
The exchange of experience envisaged by CLUSTERIX takes place through study visits, staff exchange and most important through peer groups meetings, where in small&efficient groups the identified best practices are shared and analized on their relevance and feasibility for other project regions. This gained know-how is reflected "at home" in order to be able to integrate the learnings optimally in the regional implementation plan.
The overall objective of CLUSTERIX is to increase the competitiveness of European regions and their innovation potential through the improvement and strategic re-orientation of cluster policies towards smart specialisation.
The project “ClusteriX - Clusters for European Innovation Cross-Linking” was kicked-off on 15-17 February 2012 in Vienna/Austria, where the partners reaffirmed their joint picture and commitment to the project’s objectives. The meeting also included a first study visit to showcase the Lower Austrian best practice examples “Bioplastics Initiative Lower Austria” - bringing together different Regional Government Departments (Economy and Agriculture) as well as 2 different clusters (Plastics and Food) - and “Competence Map” – a tool to identify cross-sector emerging industries. Until the next meeting in Malmö and Lund/Sweden, the partners collected good practice cases for measurements and tools to identify cross-sector potentials and support cross-cluster collaboration. In total there were 23 best practices identified and briefly described so far. These inputs were summarized and clustered up in order to facilitate the organization of upcoming staff exchanges or discussion in the peer group meetings. The topics addressed: (1) Cluster strategic analysis: Methodologies for analysis of competences / mapping based on existing clusters or fields of strength; (2) Regional/national financing instruments (e.g. Public procurement, special calls etc); (3) International cluster cooperation. The meeting in Malmö and Lund/Sweden, 27-29 June, kicked off the process of peer-group meetings, where partners discussed the good practices in detail in order to analyze them and to search for possibilities of transferring them into their own regions. The Swedish partners presented 8 cases which were discussed in parallel small peer groups involving participants from all relevant levels: policy makers, intermediaries as well as cluster practitioners. The meeting also included a Steering Committee meeting and a study tour presenting partner intermediaries and beneficiaries of the Region Skane’s innovation policy. The project website with Twitter and LinkedIn integration went online in June, an open discussion forum was set up on LinkedIn. The first newsletter will be published in October 2012, to promote the international dissemination event in Bucharest October 30. Although just started, the project was already present at international events, with presentations during the workshop of the European Forum for Clusters in Emerging Industries in Brussels in June, at the event “The role of cluster in the border areas” in Szczecin/Poland or with a stand (roll-up produced) at the European Cluster Conference in Vienna/Austria in April. At regional level, 8 out of 9 partners organized a regional/national kick-off dissemination event, involving related stakeholders and organized additional working meetings at regional level.