Building a roadmap for cluster success
Clusters are an integration of industry, research, government, and associations into a unit with one overall purpose. A major challenge for clusters is the successful development of connections and support between these organizations.
Recently a study was supported by Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC), which helped identified the primary factors which help to build a successful cluster. The study identified twelve main steps in the development of a cluster, of which three stood out as the most important: people, leverage, and collaboration.
Having the right people
Clusters require visionary individuals who will inspire others to believe what the cluster is trying to accomplish. But, in order to make the vision a reality, the cluster needs a leader that others will trust and this leader needs the knowledge and experience to make things happen.
In many cases, organizations are being asked to invest their money, time, or resources into the cluster. As with any other investment, the right people are necessary to actually shape those resources effectively.
Clusters happen for a reason. Often, there is something unique about the location that supports that particular industry to thrive and grow. For example, in Sarnia-Lambton, the availability of chemical infrastructure; access to raw materials; and a highly skilled workforce have been instrumental in the development of the Hybrid Chemistry Cluster.
For each location, developing clusters need to identify unique aspects of their ecosystem which may be possible to leverage. The feature may be related to industry, infrastructure, research, or resources. The important thing is that a long-term economic advantage is created for companies within the area.
To reach full potential, clusters must involve many different organizations which recognize the need to work together. Relationships and networks within the cluster need to be consciously fostered and created, as well as, developing strong relationships with those external to the cluster. Clusters cannot provide their members with all things. Therefore, it is also important to form relationships with other organizations and clusters nationally and internationally.
While not all clusters will be as successful as Silicon Valley, with judicious consideration of these three ingredients, the probability significantly increases.
These recommendations are based on the results of a study which incorporated the interviews of over fifty people associated with the Sarnia-Lambton Hybrid Chemistry Cluster and the Saskatoon Agriculture Biotechnology Cluster. The participants represented various organizations from government, industry, academia, financing, and support associations. The full report provides a 12-step roadmap to creating a cluster.
Please email BIC at [email protected] with any questions or comments.
Copies of the full report are also available upon request.