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Mindbrowser

 
This was assessed at the ABCEurope Cluster Manager SIG 'Building cluster culture' in Stockholm, September 2nd 2011.
The service
Th cluster around Piemonte is moving from a closed to an open innovation platform.  SMEs rarely have the tools or culture to exploit the full cluster advantage and benefits.  This service focuses on the gaps in market provision and there was no platform for collaboration in the cluster so this was a logical target.
The Mindbrowser platform is a web service that collect research needs, ideas and opportunities - it uses this to create projects together, driven by Piemonte member organisations.  It has been used mostly by SMEs, universities tending to stick to their own networks.
It has become a commonly used tool by SMEs to build partnerships and has resulted in:
  • 68 ideas, 18 requests, 44 FP7 proposals and €15 million of funding
  • Mapped all active scientists in the region
  • Platform open to selected external players e.g. Toscana Life Sciences, Lyon BioPole
  • A team reviews all ideas and opportunities and helps members build partnerships and proposals
It has impacted within the cluster to build more internal interaction but needs a strong gatekeeper who holds the trust of all actors.
Management undertakes checks of the platform every 4 months - and this needs to be developed to be more intensive.  It also needs to engage academic scientists more strongly, a factor that is common to many cross-cluster services - the hardest barrier to cross is often the industry/academia boundary.

Assessment of service

Criteria

Evaluation

Value to cluster actors

High: for SMEs in particular, with the challenge to harness information from companies.

Value to cluster as a whole

High: It gives a strong insight into the cluster as a whole.

Impact on quality of services in cluster

Medium: it has improved the quality of proposals and partnerships

Cost

Medium: €10,000 to launch the platform and 1 month per year to operate.

Ease of implementation

Low: This is difficult - you must understand your cluster well and have a good enough technical understanding to facilitate projects.

Size of cluster

Growing cluster - not too embryonic and if too large, start with smaller subsections.

Suitable for...

An early but established cluster

Skills required

This would suit a diverse cluster as it has the opportunity to link different technologies around core challenges.

Value for cluster management

High: Brings an understanding of cluster evolution, scientific and business.  It also builds a trusted relationship with actors and better branding for the cluster.

Value in wider networking

High: Better partnerships through increased inclusion of other clusters

Barrier to entry

Trust of actors in cluster is necessary, plus funds to operate this for a minimum of 5 years before tangible results.  It is also important to have robust assessment and follow up.