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Year 1 - issue 3 - October 2010


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IN THIS ISSUE: Interview with Walloon Minister Jean-Claude Marcourt Page 2 | ON THE AGENDA Discussion on how to create more world-class clusters in Europe takes off Page 3 | STORY IN FOCUS European Cluster Alliance Cluster Quality Label Page 6 | NEW OUTLOOK The role of clusters in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region Page 7 | NETWORK NEWS Page 8 | NEWS AND EVENTS

Interview with Minister Jean-Claude Marcourt

OF THE REGION OF WALLONIA, CHAIRMAN OF THE INDUSTRY MINISTERS MEETINGS OF THE COMPETITIVENESS COUNCIL DURING THE BELGIAN EU PRESIDENCY (JULY-DECEMBER 2010), ON CLUSTER-LED IMPROVEMENT OF EUROPEAN COMPETITIVENESS. WHAT IS THE VIEW OF THE BELGIAN PRESIDENCY ON PROMOTING AND DEVELOPING CLUSTERS THROUGH POLICY? Policy action can make a contribution to the impact of clusters on economic competitiveness and on spreading innovation. This can be achieved by identifying areas where to support the performance of clusters and by putting in place specific support measures (cooperation schemes, training, etc.). Likewise, policy makers can support the promotion and exchange of best practices between clusters throughout Europe. It is at this level that the European Union has a particular role to play and this is one of the aims behind EU cluster policy and which will be presented at the European Cluster Conference at the end of September. HOW CAN WALLONIA’S EXPERIENCES IN CLUSTER POLICY CONTRIBUTE TO IMPROVING EUROPEAN COMPETITIVENESS? With the forthcoming publication of the Innovation Union Communication and the Communication on Industrial Policy, the Walloon experience clearly illustrates how cluster policy can bring value to the economy, and thus how clusters can contribute to the aims of these future instruments of the European Union. We have based our competitiveness policy on mobilising and pooling industrial capabilities, research potential and human capital. The strengthening of synergies between all actors and organising them in clusters is a factor that has allowed Wallonia to regain considerable competitiveness in the global market place. Moreover, and as we view clusters as vital for the diffusion of innovation, especially among SMEs, we are convinced that the upcoming Innovation Union Communication will strengthen the intermediary role of clusters. HOW DOES THE WALLOON GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGE CLUSTERS TO TAKE PART IN CROSS-BORDER NETWORKS OR TO CONSTITUTE THEMSELVES AS SUCH? The Walloon government provides subsidies to clusters which register for international cooperation programmes (like the European Union Framework Programme for R&D or INTERREG) or which conclude inter-cluster cooperation agreements in order to perform specific activities (for example joint positioning on a new market or an emerging technology). By promoting openness and international integration of clusters, this strategy contributes to reinforcing the attractiveness of Wallonia to foreign investors, developing local and international partnerships involving cluster members in the area of industry or services, R&D or commerce with, where appropriate, the creation of new activities; and to the sharing of knowledge and best practices between clusters. Jean-Claude Marcourt Minister of Economy and Foreign Affairs of the Walloon Government



Discussion on how to create

more world-class

clusters takes off


The “European Cluster Conference takes place on 29-30 September and The search for a new cluster policy approach to renew 1 October in Brussels. It is organised by the European Commission Europe’s industry is gaining momentum. The July Informal under the Belgian EU Presidency. Competiveness Council discussed future cluster policies and this discussion will be continued at the “European Cluster More information about the “European Cluster Conference 2010”, Conference 2010 - World-Class Clusters Renewing European is available at Industry”.

“Clusters should be seen as a powerful policy instrument to rejuvenate More about the July 2010 informal Competitiveness Council industries in Europe and to create new competitive advantages”, says meeting can be obtained at Reinhard Büscher, Head of the Support for Industrial Innovation Unit of DG at the Press releases section where the Belgian Enterprise and Industry. “They are an important lever to reach the Europe 2020 Presidency’s conceptual framework paper “Towards Strategy’s objectives; they form an explicit part of the ‘Industrial policy for the Sustainable Industrial Competitiveness Policy” is globalisation era’ initiative to improve the business environment, especially for SMEs, available. The Competitiveness Council and they are further supported through the “Innovation Union” flagship initiative.” Conclusions on “Creating an innovative Europe” of 17 May 2010 are available at Strong support for a re-orientation of cluster policies towards the concept of “world-class” clusters was expressed in the paper “Towards Sustainable Industrial 0/st09/st09448.en10.pdf Competitiveness Policy” prepared for the July 2010 Informal Competitiveness Council, which stated that “innovative clusters are a response to globalisation and can The “Europe 2020” strategy of March 2010, prove to be an efficient tool to stimulate the transfer of technologies”. This paper further in which the European Commission highlighted the need to enhance “the networking at European level of innovative clusters” outlines its new agenda to achieve smart, and to put in place “pooling facilities to access resources, to exchange best practices, and to sustainable and inclusive growth over professionalise the management of clusters”. It furthermore stressed that cluster policies the next decade is available at should “foster the development of internationally competitive and innovative clusters that better integrate SMEs into their strategy and activities”. This is also in line with the May 2010 More information about the European Competitiveness Council Conclusions that asked “to encourage the emergence and Cluster Policy Group is available at consolidation of world-class competitive clusters across Europe”.

The debate about future cluster policies will be continued at the “European Cluster Conference 2010” that will bring together some 500 cluster policy-makers, high-level experts, practitioners and other stakeholder. “The conference is expected to shape a new cluster agenda in the EU in order to foster cluster excellence and the internationalisation of cluster activities” – says Kincső Izsak, policy officer in DG Enterprise and Industry, and coordinator of the event. One highlight of the conference will be the presentation of the final report of the high-level European Cluster Policy Group that was established by the European Commission in 2009. This group has paved the way for a new and more strategic approach that builds upon the concept of world-class clusters, thus aiming at creating more innovation champions in Europe in promising new areas. “Focusing on world-class clusters does not mean to target only those clusters, which are already the strongest, but to support those dynamic clusters that have the ambition and realistic potential to become and stay the strongest”, emphasises Reinhard Büscher. In his view, future cluster policies will have to look more at the leading edge and focus on strengthening cluster-specific framework conditions in newly emerging industries based on new technologies, eco-innovation, and services innovation such as creative industries. This will be another interesting point for discussion at the European Cluster Conference 2010.



Relaunch of the European


Over 50 organisations responded to the survey and the results were presented at an ECA Workshop held in IWT’s offices in Brussels on 1 July 2010. Two areas of interest stood out. The first concerns the types of initiatives desired by ECA members, and the second the cooperation opportunities that could be developed with other cluster-oriented EU programmes. The first diagram illustrates the interest of members in developing practical tools to support the internationalisation of clusters. ECA members are clearly interested in developing concrete cooperation tools to help their clusters work at international level. The second and third themes, namely open innovation and user-driven policies and channeling RDI through clusters, illustrate other thematic issues that ECA members want to explore. Two working groups established by the TACTICS Reflection Group have now commenced working on these two themes, involving discussions on complex but necessary issues such as state aid rules. Indeed, the future competitiveness of the European Union will depend on its ability to improve the excellence of clusters, cluster policies and cluster initiatives and ensuring that SMEs -as cluster members- gain value and competitive advantage from working through clusters. The second diagram highlights the linkages that ECA members would like to reinforce with other EU cluster programmes. The Regions of Knowledge (DG Research) and INTERREG (DG Regio) programmes feature prominently in the survey results and the ECA has already begun working with cluster policy actors involved in these programmes. During the 1 July workshop, representatives of both of these DGs discussed with ECA members the opportunities for collaboration, notably in the case of sustainability strategies and the development of “meta” cluster initiatives. Today the ECA has over 60 active members and a mailing list of some 150 individual policy makers and practitioners. Most member organisations are drawn from either national or regional innovation and or cluster funding ministries and agencies. Many are directly involved in the funding of SME support programmes linked to cluster projects. Further details of the current membership and how to join the ECA can be found at



How can cluster initiatives be managed more professionally? And what skills do cluster managers need to achieve cluster excellence? These questions are being explored by the INNO-Action. Emiliano Duch, from IESE Business School’s International Center for Competitiveness is leader of the project consortium and sees a need for more cluster excellence in Europe. EMILIANO, WHAT IS CLUSTER MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE AND WHY DOES CLUSTER MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE MATTER? While management at company level has been developed as a science by business schools across the world, the skills needed for cluster management are still in an artisan stage. As a consequence, there is ample room to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cluster management by following a methodological approach. We need more real professionals involved in the cluster business. That way, companies that are cluster members will be better served, and also the effectiveness of public funds that are deployed via cluster organisations will increase. All modules of therefore target cluster organisations that want to become excellent. IS THERE ALREADY EXCELLENCE IN CLUSTER MANAGEMENT OUT THERE IN EUROPE OR BEYOND? CAN YOU GIVE EXAMPLES? Of course there are examples of good cluster management in Europe, but since there is no clear benchmark on what is excellence for the time being, it also implies we could come up with very divergent opinions and examples. Our project specifically aims to establish an appropriate framework and related set of



indicators to identify, measure and generate excellent cluster management practices. WHAT ARE THE PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS AN EXCELLENT CLUSTER MANAGEMENT TEAM SHOULD POSSESS? Very often social skills are put forward when discussing this question. But people tend to forget that cluster management is a profession at the core of business management. For example, cluster managers need market analysis skills in order to develop tailored strategies for their clusters. For this topic, as well as for others, a number of very helpful case studies already exist. The project brings those learning cases together and it will develop additional ones on less common subjects. In the end, we will provide a broad set of learning materials that are self-explanatory, so they can be used by qualified instructors across Europe, helping them to enrich cluster management training with a more methodological approach. HOW CAN THE EUROPEAN CLUSTER MANAGERS’ CLUB AND THE CLUSTER COLLABORATION PLATFORM HELP TO INCREASE THE EXCELLENCE IN CLUSTER MANAGEMENT IN EUROPE? The Club will be the first professional association for cluster managers striving for excellence. It will provide different services to improve cluster managers’ skills. These services range from the promotion of a cluster quality label and the training material the project will generate, on the one hand, to rolling out tailored activities like workshops and case studies on issues of special concern for cluster managers, on the other. The Cluster Collaboration Platform will be open for all cluster organisations striving for excellence and is an online extension to the club. If you want, you can call it the “LinkedIn for cluster organisations and cluster managers”.


What is the Cluster

Quality Label and what is it not? GERT MEYER ZU KÖCKER EXPLAINS

Labelling clusters is not new. In recent times many Member States – like France, Germany, Hungary and Sweden - have set up support programmes to boost the quality and excellence of their most competitive clusters even further. Being selected for such a programme is already in itself a kind of quality label, since it expresses recognition. Those clusters can, themselves, claim to belong to the “best ones”. However, the applied selection mechanisms often follow national priorities or politically driven objectives. The Cluster Quality Label currently under development by the European Cluster Excellence Initiative goes a step further and tries to establish a more objective process for measuring and assessing cluster management quality. The overall approach is to create an independent and voluntary evaluation of cluster management excellence by means of a structured set of indicators that is accepted and recognised all over Europe. The Cluster Quality Label will thus motivate cluster managers to compare their cluster management practices among peers and to learn from the best. It will also promote the adoption of high quality standards in cluster management. The Cluster Quality Label is applicable to all kinds of clusters existing all over Europe and will enable cluster managers to demonstrate their excellence towards interested third parties like member companies, stakeholders and policy makers. All in all, the Cluster Quality Label will contribute to focus attention on cluster management excellence, and the methodology and indicators behind the labelling process will provide a guideline for excellent cluster management. The test phase for the label will start by the end of 2010. Cluster managers wishing to participate in the test phase can contact: Gerd Meier zu Köcker, VDI-VDE/IT PRO INNO EUROPE


As an outcome of the INNO-Action, the European Cluster Managers’ Club could become the vehicle to roll out and develop the Cluster Quality labeli further. In the long run then, the awarding and adoption of Cluster Quality Labels would not only be an indication of the quality of cluster management throughout Europe, but also as a lasting impact of the project. It would also contribute to the review of cluster management quality on the basis of a more harmonized set of quality indicators (based on the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model), which helps to level the playing field and adopt common quality standards. On the whole, Cluster Quality labelling can then be taken as a more objective sign of good cluster management and continuous improvement and thus become a more effective tool for cluster managers to demonstrate their value to members and stakeholders, and to promote their clusters at home and abroad, also in view of the internationalisation of cluster organisations.

VDI/VDE-IT is managing the Initiative Kompetenznetze Deutschland (Competence Networks Germany) for the German Ministry for Economy and Technology. These Networks serve to support the regional development of clusters. For supporting the creation of new clusters and networks, VDI/VDE-IT has been awarded the so-called ZIM 3 programme by the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology (BMWi). In terms of fostering and participating in the European Research (and Economy) Area, VDI/VDE-IT has set up close transnational collaboration with e.g. the French Pôles de Competitivité programme under the INNET INNO-Net as part of the PRO INNO Europe® initiative. For more on INNET, see:



The role of clusters in the EU Strategy for the Danube Region IN 2009 THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL ASKED THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO PREPARE AN EU STRATEGY FOR THE DANUBE REGION. ONE OF THE MOST WIDELY USED TOOLS IN REGIONAL POLICY TO ENHANCE COMPETITIVENESS AND ADAPT ECONOMIES IS TO FOSTER CLUSTERS. This is also envisaged for the Danube Region. Consequently, it is foreseen to promote cooperation between cluster organisations and member companies. One of the driving forces behind cluster development in the Danube Region is Clusterland Upper Austria.

At the same time, many Eastern countries have a strong tradition of training well-qualified engineers. In addition, it sees cluster development as a means to reap synergies from cooperation between research institutes and on cross-regional innovation strategies.

It envisions that clusters can, notably, contribute to increased business interaction, since trade flows, cooperation and networks within the Danube Region are still comparatively low (except for those between Austria and Germany). It also expects that a further formation of cluster structures can help to overcome differences in skill bases. For instance, in the German-speaking parts of the Danube Region there is a chronic lack of technical staff (e.g. certified engineers). At the same time, many Eastern countries have a strong tradition of training well-qualified engineers.

Clusterland Upper Austria also reckons that a coherent EU Strategy for the Danube Region can make a difference in the following fields: • Establishment and internationalisation of High-Tech Centres, which can scale up their innovation and economic activities via the establishment and enlargement of an innovation and research space. • Establishment and promotion of cooperation between Universities and Institutes of Applied Sciences. Networking and (peer) reviewing of activities can valorise the resources and tools these organisations have at their disposal and put them on the road to excellence. • Promotion of cooperation between the private and the public research sector in order to link private companies and (university-based) research entities and Institutes of Applied Sciences. This will not only create a stronger link between science, the arts, the educational sector and the private sector, but will also reinforce interdisciplinary structures. • Establishment of a “virtual” Danube Region in order to make the macro-region more visible from the outside and to create a cooperation platform for actors within the Danube Region. • Opening-up of new international markets by bringing companies from specific value chains together via cluster initiatives. The fields of mechanical engineering and mechatronics can serve as pilots here. • Establishment and promotion of transnational cooperation between regional and national Funding-Service-Centres to build critical mass for joint participation in European and international funding programmes.

“Innovation Express” is a cluster cooperation funding mechanism launched under the PRO INNO Europe® initiative as part of the INNET project (during the 2006-2009 period). It is dedicated to facilitating transnational RDI inter-cluster cooperation for SMEs based on a joint call based on either national and or regional funding. To date, two pilot project calls have been initiated generating over 70 proposals with 120 individual cluster participants and 500 SMEs with the aim of supporting direct transnational inter-cluster and technological cooperation.



The PRO INNO Europe® portal now contains a section devoted to best practices resulting from the INNO-Nets and INNO-Actions. It is called “PRO INNO Europe® Collection of Best Practices and can be visited via: The Collection of Best Practices is an online showcase of best practices from PRO INNO Europe® projects. Results and deliverables have been extracted and screened in order to validate the lessons learned from past and present INNO-Nets and INNO-Actions and to assess their transferability to other contexts. The Collection includes factsheets with detailed information from selected PRO INNO Europe® projects, which are supported by video material in several cases.


When the BSR INNO-Net finished in late 2009 it had laid the basis for a new era of pan-Baltic cluster and innovation development, bringing together cluster managers and national innovation policy makers from across the Baltic Sea Region and Scandinavia. Two of the Swedish partners in the project, Vinnova and Oresund IT, summarised the feelings of many partners when they expressed that: “It took time to build trust between clusters at different stages of their development, and to uncover the insights that innovation policy makers need to transfer lessons learned in all directions, but in the end it paid off.” The overarching aim of the BSR INNO-Net was to strengthen links across the region, so that business relationships could be enhanced providing entry to a market of 110 million people. The film gives all those tasked with developing and delivering innovation and business opportunities a full picture of how innovation can cross borders and help build bridges across national cultures. tion-pro-inno-europe-results/newsroo m/bsr-innonet-video


INNO-Grips: A PLATFORM FOR DEBATE ON INNOVATION POLICY, DRIVERS AND BARRIERS PRO INNO EUROPE The INNO-Grips pillar of PRO INNO Europe® INNO ( started a GRIPS new phase of work in 2010. Over a period of three years, INNO-Grips 2 will analyse framework conditions, barriers to and drivers of innovation and innovation policy, and it will offer intelligence on international developments in these fields.

Each year, two studies on specific aspects of innovation and two policy briefs are planned; the findings are to be presented and discussed in workshops. "We aim to provide a platform for public authorities, innovation actors, intermediaries and academia to exchange views, ideas and best practices, thus helping to optimise innovation policy in Europe", says Hannes Selhofer, project manager at empirica GmbH ( While empirica coordinates the innovation policy monitoring activity, the studies on innovation drivers and barriers are managed by a consortium led by WIFO - Austrian Institute of Economic Research ( The INNO-Grips 2010 studies and workshops focus on the following issues: • 28-09-2010: Barriers to internationalisation and growth of innovative companies (Brussels). Contact: Astrid Severin, Greenovate! sprl, • 30-09-2010: Innovation policy in an anti-cyclical conjuncture (Cologne). Contact: Hannes Selhofer, empirica GmbH, • 01-12-2010: Implications of socio-economic trends for innovation policy (Brussels). Contact: Astrid Severin, Greenovate! sprl, • Dec. 2010 / Jan. 2011: Innovation policies for innovative high-growth SMEs If you want to stay informed about the INNO-Grips studies and activities, you can register for the INNO-Grips newsletter at

VALORISING AND LEVERAGING THE POTENTIAL OF SERVICE INNOVATION AS AN INSTRUMENT FOR THE EUROPE 2020 STRATEGY On 14-16 June the EPISIS INNO-Net held its first international conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, jointly with the Europe INNOVA annual partnering event on the theme of ‘Service innovation as a catalyst for the Europe 2020 Strategy’. The conference showed in a powerful way how service innovation can and should be deployed as a key instrument for future growth in Europe and how it will play a crucial role in ensuring a green and sustainable Europe. A further point that was emphasized was that customers are at the heart of service innovation. Therefore, in order for support measures to have concrete impact, it is vital that they adhere to the demand-driven and customer-centric approach that must characterise service innovation. Accordingly, policy makers should make service companies their focal point when aligning innovation policies with service business. Moreover, because of its transversal nature, success in the area of service innovation policy calls for a horizontal approach and requires transnational cooperation. Also, since service innovation and service innovation policies are both rather new phenomena, it is necessary to establish common ground and understanding and agree on standards and terminology in the field, in order to enhance the interoperability and comprehensiveness of service innovation concepts both at a practical and at policy level. The conference video can be viewed at



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PRO INNO Europe® is an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate General Enterprise and Industry. It aims to become the focal point for innovation policy analysis and policy cooperation in Europe, with the view to learning from the best and contributing to the development of new and better innovation policies in Europe. The newsletter of the PRO INNO Europe® initiative © European Commission. Reproduction is authorised, provided the source is acknowledged. EDITORIAL CONTACT AND TO SUBSCRIBE: PUBLISHED BY: INNOVATION PIE and all other elements of the Promotion of PRO INNO Europe® Results project are performed by a consortium of companies headed by INNOVA Europe sàrl (Luxembourg). LEGAL NOTICE: This publication has been produced as part of the PRO INNO Europe® initiative. The views expressed in this report, as well as the information included in it, do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of the European Commission and in no way commit the institution. This newsletter is financed under the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) which aims to encourage the competitiveness of European enterprises. Printed on responsible forest management paper with vegetable-based ink.

4th ANNUAL PARTNERING EVENT PRO INNO Europe® is pleased to announce that its 4th Annual Partnering Event will be held in Munich (Germany) on 5-7 April 2011 (foreseen dates). The event is kindly being hosted by the European Patent Office (EPO). The event is primarily intended for partners in the 2009-2012 generation of INNO-Nets and INNO-Actions (as well as their Reflection Groups, Think Tanks and Councils). For them, the event will be an opportunity to share experiences and findings from the ongoing projects, and to discuss lessons in promoting transnational cooperation in support of innovation. In addition, the event will also be selectively open to other actors (e.g. innovation agencies, cluster organisations and innovation support providers) with an interest in the PRO INNO Europe® initiative or a stake in innovation policy and innovation-related transnational learning and cooperation. In order to stay updated, please consult the PRO INNO Europe® web portal:

CALL FOR EXPRESSION OF INTEREST The INNO-Partnering Forum, the INNO-Net that focuses on new approaches to support innovation in SMEs will launch a call for expressions of interest to Innovation Agencies for their participation in a workshop on improving the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of innovation support measures. The call is scheduled for October-November 2010. Interested? Keep an eye on

EUROPE INNOVA CONFERENCE 2010 The 3rd “Europe INNOVA Conference 2010”, takes place in Liège (Belgium) from the 27th October until the 29th  October 2010 and will focus on “Reshaping Europe: Addressing Societal Challenges through Entrepreneurship and Innovation”. The Europe INNOVA Conference is being organised by the Region of Wallonia in the framework of the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, in close collaboration with DG Enterprise and Industry. It will discuss policy priorities for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and will reflect on how innovation can support the transition towards a resource efficient and competitive economy. The conference will bring together the Europe INNOVA Community with key innovation stakeholders from the worlds of politics, academia and business. The discussions will focus on three areas of particular importance for addressing the societal challenges that Europe is facing: • Unlocking Europe’s Creative Potential • Greening Industries • Supporting Innovative Entrepreneurship. For more information and registration please go to

NEWSLETTER EPISIS, the INNO-Net devoted to service innovation, has its own newsletter and the 2nd edition puts the spotlight on EPISIS partners from Germany (Mr. Thorsten Eggers from the German Aerospace Center – Head of Project Management Agency, Development of Work and Services) and the UK (Mr. Allan Mayo - Chair of the Expert Panel on Services Innovation in the EU and Head of the Services Policy Unit in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills). It also features a short interview with the EPISIS Think Tank Chair, Mrs. Tiina Tanninen-Ahonen from Tekes. Persons interested in receiving the EPISIS newsletter can send an e-mail to the EPISIS secretariat, via:


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