Enhancing innovation and internationalisation capabilities for clusters and cluster SMEs members
In order to achieve one of its main current objectives, i.e. inter-cluster cooperation in the frame of cross-sectorial cluster networks (in particular creative industries and bio economy), the Romanian Cluster Association has started providing extensive individual business support services towards innovation and internationalization in member SMEs of several regional clusters, such as “Indagro Vest” (agricultural machinery), “Traditions, Manufacturing, Future” (textile), "Pro Wood" and “Romanian Textile Concept” (textile sector). The consultancy follows a 3 step “funnel “approach: 1) a presentation seminar where benefits of cluster membership, available financial and non-financial instruments for SME development and international best practice are presented 2) first company visits together with the cluster manager where a technology or business audit is performed, followed by recommendations. The recommendations include orientation towards specific financial (Structural Funds, Horizon 2020, SME Instrument, INTERREG programmes) and non-financial support services (EEN, SES, etc.). 3) Enhanced support for selected measures, such as competence mapping, project generation seminars, IMPROVE innovation audits etc. Output: 18 cluster SMEs participating to the information seminar, 2 innovation audits and 5 business reviews. CLUSTERIX 2.0 has selected Integrated Cluster Services as a of good practice example to develop new models of innovation for Strategic Cluster Partnerships.
The process is lead by a team of at least 1 representative of the cluster management and 1 consultants; min 20 expert day per cluster (Phase 1 and 2) are needed; costs of around 20.000 EUR per cluster
Evidence of success
As a result, 1 international Commercial Partnership Agremments between a RO and BG regional association of textile producers has been already achieved so far. Furthermore, Romanian Textile Concept obtained silver label for cluster excellence while Indagro Vest, Pro Wood and TMV were awarded bronze label. The approach was presented to the Ministry of Education and Research in order to document he need of extensive innovation support to cluster SMEs as part of future cluster financing scheme.
- lack of strategic vision in the enterprises
- absence of dedicated budget for innovation expenditures in the companies leading to dependence on public funding
- difficult follow up, as companies are reluctant to report to the cluster management (in general)
Potential for learning or transfer
The generality of the approach makes it relevant for all sectors and regions. Particular issues should be considered starting with the 1st phase when all members are being approached, for example, by including relevant aspects in the presentations during the seminar. The individual approach (phase 2 and 3) may include the application of relevant instruments (eco-innovation audits, support to certification for the international markets, export readiness seminars, drafting of specific targeted market studies etc).