Model regions for future-oriented cluster policy
With the European Cluster Observatory the European Commission intends to demonstrate new or better ways of designing and implementing modern cluster policies. A modern approach means in particular to take maximum advantage of the transformative power of innovation towards shaping industrial value chains, sectors and emerging industries. Six model demonstrator regions were selected from 44 applications across Europe following a call for the expression of interest in 2014, namely Centro (Portugal), Hamburg (Germany, Lapland (Finland), Nord-Pas de Calais (France), Stockholm (Sweden) and the West Region (Romania) (see also Newsletter issue #1).
The six regions received several kinds of tailor-made advisory support services from the European Cluster Observatory team between 2015 and 2016. Their experience and good practices offers a comprehensive and multi-angle perspective of different ways of implementing modern cluster policies, which can possibly serve as models and inspirations for other regions to design their own approach.
The support provided to the demonstrator regions by the European Cluster Observatory contained four steps. In the first step, a survey of the key actors of the clusters provided an overview of the current state of development in the region. In the second step, a pre-assessment was carried out, to understand the status of the policy and implementation process in the region. In a third step, during a two-day workshop an expert team of the European Cluster Observatory developed the central aspects of the regional concept with the relevant regional actors. The fourth step, a final policy briefing, summarised the activities and provided a set of recommendations and an action plan for further progress.
The following articles present a short description of each of the six pilot projects with a special coverage on their workshops. More detailed reports for each region can be found on the European Cluster Observatory website under the title “Proceeding Reports of the Model Regions”.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais region pushing for Factories of the future
The support to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais model demonstrator region (now known as Hauts de France region since the 2016 territorial reform) was officially kicked off in April 2015 during the pre-assessment visit conducted on behalf of the ECO expert team. This two-day visit allowed the team to meet with the region’s main innovation eco-system stakeholders, including Regional Council authorities and the Development and Innovation Agency of the North (NFID). It also allowed them to acquire first-hand knowledge on the regional cluster landscape, as well as to understand the process and rationale behind the Factories of the Future (FoF) policy project. The FoF initiative represents the main focus of the analysis conducted as part of the support exercise. It intends to use the transformative power of innovation to shift traditional industries to the ‘factories of the future’ paradigm as a means of re-invigorating the region’s industrial ecosystem, increasing competitiveness and providing a source of sustainable growth. Clusters and cluster organisations have played a key role in the design of the FoF policy project and roadmap, and are expected to continue doing so during the implementation phase of the policy due to their longstanding relationship and knowledge of the region’s industrial value chains.