A cluster of CAV involved small businesses are driving progress in transport innovation, finding new opportunities, funding and economic development
Connected and Autonomous Vehicles are one of the UK Government’s key priorities. The market is estimated to be worth £51bn per year to the UK economy alone by 2030. There are multiple companies of all sizes growing in this space and little wider understanding of the potential of these developments. This clustering activity is intended to increase the opportunities for interaction with business, policy makers and investors.
In response to this need the MCAV cluster was set up to bring the major players together in the West Midlands – the centre of the CAV industry in the UK.
Driven by Conigital Ltd the MCAV cluster was the result of hard work by directors of the company who pulled together their contacts and launched the cluster with a major conference in 2017. The cluster creates opportunities using conferences and meetings as the basis for networking meetings.
The Cluster runs three meetings a year, some as major conferences but the majority from technical specialist groups, attracting debate and cooperation from interested parties.
In 2018 the cluster began connecting more widely than the region and announced a connection with technology businesses in Cambridge, with the line “Cambridge thinks it, Birmingham does it.” A launch meeting included the Mayors of both cities and influential thinkers from around the industry. In the same time period the aim of the cluster responded to international interest by rebranding as ICAV (International) on a spoke and hub model
This is privately funded. Conigital estimate the resources needed as about £80,000 in costs plus significant time valued at £150,000
The prime movers work in this space and have credibility with the potential cluster members.
The Cluster is self -financing from membership and event income
Evidence of success
Success of this cluster is evident in the growing membership and the fact that it is now self-supporting. The cluster has supported the growth of a number of successful development project bid consortia.
Additional hubs are being set up in Manchester and London.
As further evidence of the need and value of the practice is the international interest and the connected clusters being initiated in Portugal, Paris and Bucharest.
The difficulties have mostly been resource based. Driven by management of a company there is conflict between the immediate needs of the business and those of the cluster.
Some competition from event companies organising in this sector have been met with cooperation, reinforcing MCAV in the sector
Potential for learning or transfer
Clusters are an observed phenomenon of successful businesses in area. The advantages of clusters in terms of productivity, speed of innovation and new businesses are well known. Since they were first identified many efforts have been made to establish new clusters to support growing or strategic industries in regions.
This cluster demonstrates some of the key success factors in cluster practice.
It crosses Industry classifications, working within digital and Advanced Manufacturing industries.
It is driven by actors within the cluster, developing and growing a network in which they have credibility.
The locality has assisted in this process. Like many clusters it I not confined by regional boundaries. In this new digital world boundaries are less important as working can take place in any part of Europe and, indeed, the results of this work will need to be standardised across the world.
Internationalisation is the next phase as ICAV seeks to connect clusters.