Let me react to recent Robert’s interesting post here. I’m picking up some of his statements to comment …
Cluster cooperation may appear in two forms: as a formal legal entity or as natural cooperation among the participants. The current focus of publicly funded initiatives in CZ, HU and SK is to support formal legal entities.
That is IMHO a fundamental mistake slowing down bottom-up initiatives that might set up meaningful and sustainable clusters. Having to set up a new legal entity – in the environment where public-private partnership is still something to be learnt and where taking risk attitudes are low – builds another barrier of more demanding administration and bureaucracy.
As far as I know the public institutions in Southern Moravia criticise the model and announced to support rather concrete activities than formalised clusters as such. It would be useful to collect examples from other countries or regions (and their arguments) where also informal clusters can be publicly supported.
A cluster is a funding issue. Many clusters were created in the recent years. Will they survive after initial funding ends? When public funding ends, many ‘artificial’ clusters remain without real activities.
Absolutely key question connected to the previous point. I wonder how many formal artificial clusters have been formed just because of public funding and will not exist in a few years.
There are no widely accepted criteria for measuring the success of clusters. Different metrics are relevant for different players (e.g. public bodies, academic instituations and independent companies.
Some thoughts can be downloaded here.
Why do SME’s cooperate ? They do not cooperate: they do business and earn money.
Very good point. But nothing is black and white. On the one hand, there is a need to use this argument against some of the social engineering effort expecting private companies will spend a lot of time in never ending policy discussions. On the other hand, we should not forget there are two archetypes of entrepreneurs — the growth based ones and the lifestyle based ones. And the latter do business not just because of earning money and getting rich. They appreciate working together with partners in the same or complementary industries or with those having similar values and visions. See also the point below.
A successful cluster needs a good university. Good university => cluster => high technology output.
A good (or I would rather say excellent or a very good) university is necessary, but not sufficient, condition. It’s not just as easy as to create another Silicon Valley with any regional university. Talents need both private and public financial tools for innovation activites and also stimulating creative environment, cultural diversity (for example expats) and opportunities to network.
Any other thoughts?