VOJVODINA ICT CLUSTER AWARDED AT CONFERENCE
The European Cluster Conference was held in Vienna, Austria, from April 18 – 20. The Conference was attended by about 350 representatives of 41 countries. According to the number of representatives, Serbia was at the seventh place, with 19 participants. High interest of cluster development actors in Serbia, starting from Ministry of Economy and Regional Development representatives, through SCC Cluster Council, to Union of Clusters in Serbia – the Cluster House and clusters themselves, indicates that Serbia is aware of the significance of clusters in the local economic development of the country, contributing to SME sector and entrepreneurship development, and therefore the employment rate increase.
Cluster development in Europe was initiated at the end of 20th century in the fields of car industry, construction, design and IT. The 15th Annual Global Cluster Conference is scheduled for October 2012, confirming the long lasting European tradition in the cluster development.
There were 56 speakers at the Conference, and several panel discussions with eminent – famous experts and important representatives of governments, European institutions and organizations, that resulted in recommendations for further growth and development of clusters in Europe. Numerous good practices from Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Austria, France, Germany and other countries were presented.
The most important European tendency in the field of clusters will be internationalization of clusters. Special attention will also be paid to the so-called smart specialization, meaning more development activities for the sectors including nano, bio and other up-to-date technologies in the world. Further development of clusters will be based on the bottom up principle, instead of the top down that has been used so far in case of cluster initiatives and forming of cluster organizations. Cluster initiatives will be comprehended from the regional level as tools for achieving regional economic growth and development. The most popular sectors are wood processing, metal and textile, but the focus would also be on traditional occupations.
European cluster development institutions will keep on promoting Cluster Excellence, Cluster Collaboration and the Cluster Managers Club. They will also work on collecting on line information about clusters and providing them with support in finding ways to enhance performances. They will support development of established Cluster Competitiveness Foundation, the role of which is to create a unique curriculum for the training of instructors to work on capacity building of cluster managers. The Foundation is going to be fully operational within the next few months and available to future instructors of cluster managers.
Comparing the information from the Conference that German Government is supporting cluster development with 600 million euro, and Serbian Government with 100,000 euro, it becomes obvious that some of European countries are strongly supporting growth and development of clusters and “triple helix“ concepts, including cooperation of the public, educational – scientific and business sectors, and that there is an increased networking of R&D institutions and businesses in Europe. European countries are working on continuous enabling of business environment and creation of conditions for economic growth through motivating innovation and internationalization.
During Day 2 of the Conference, the best cluster manager in 2011 was elected by the votes of participants - Mr Micael Gustafsson, Cluster Manager of the Cluster Klastera 55, Lund University, Sweden. It is one of the oldest European clusters, founded in 1999. The main focus of Cluster 55 is to assist with establishing and development of SMEs in ICT sector, in order to ensure their growth and sustainability. Vojvodina ICT Cluster of Novi Sad also got the valuable second prize for creative efforts on activities related to the map of European clusters. Conference participants from Serbia were proud to hear that Serbia and one of its clusters were mentioned at this event which is the most important one in the area of cluster development in Europe.
Participants wish to have more awarded clusters from Serbia next year. This wish is a realistic one, as clusters in Serbia have been present for more than 10 years in spite of the fact that there are no cluster development strategy in the country, decree on clusters or enabling environment for establishing and development of clusters (inadequate financing, lack of infrastructural support, regulations, etc.) Clusters are founded due to the need to create connections between business entities. They are meant to cooperate with educational – scientific institutions in order to enable innovative activities and improve competitiveness.
EUROPE INNOVA will keep on supporting Cluster Excellence, working on cluster benchmarking and introduction of „gold label“ , based on which the inter-cluster connections will be easier, as this label is meant to be a kind of guarantee of cluster feasibility and sign of a valid partner.
EUROPE INNOVA supported the latest initiative of women, cluster development actors, to establish European Network of Women in Clusters.
SCC Cluster Council and LEDIB Cluster House representatives tried to contribute to positioning and visibility of the national Council and the Cluster House in a professional manner, through establishing cooperation with representatives of TMG and Cluster land from Austria, Corallia from Greece, Orcestra from Spain, Coordinator of European Network of Women in Clusters, clusters from France, consultants from Turkey, Europe Innova, European Cluster of Observatories, Universities from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, etc. Apart from introducing European colleagues to status of cluster development in Serbia, opportunities and challenges, all of them were invited to participate to the Second Conference DAYS OF CLUSTERS in Nis, October 25026, 2012, send their presentations and present their knowledge though papers to be published in a special issue of Science + Practice Magazine of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Nis and the Cluster House Nis.
A specially important result of the Conference participation was better understanding of opportunities for establishing inter-regional cooperation of clusters from Croatia and Serbia, with an idea to include Slovenia in future. Forming of cluster network Slovenia – Croatia – Serbia would contribute to a better sharing of business information and easier access to market. All the participants of these meetings agree that projects to enable implementation of the project idea should be prepared. The upcoming Danube Strategy meeting in Split, Croatia, is also a motive for representatives of Croatia and Serbia to agree that one of options for partnership is also the implementation of the recently adopted Danube Stragtegy which is expected to become fully operational in the upcoming period.
Detailed info about the Conference will be presented in CLUSTERS IN SERBIA TV-show broadcasted on Fridays at 20:05 on B92Info Cable TV.
High Representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Mr. Mikael Erbs-Jørgensen visited for the first time since the end of the mission cluster LEDIB.