This was developed at the ABCEurope Cluster Management SIG 'Implementing cluster strategy' in Munich on October 25th 2011.
There are no hard rules when implementing a cluster strategy. Europe's biocommunities are enormously diverse, and cluster strategies differ significantly, responding to local factors including existing science base, regional industry strengths, focus for a future biotechnology cluster, existing biotechnology and pharma business, geographical strengths or weaknesses.
The meeting in Munich focussed on the common ground between regions in cluster strategy implementation - clusters including Munich, Cambridge, London, Piemonte, Alsace, Wallonia, Stockholm and Turku shared the key factors that they found valuable when turning strategy into practise.
Recommended 'dos' in cluster strategy implementation
- HAVE A STRATEGY: This sounds obvious, but many regions do not have a fully researched or agreed strategy. In challenging times for the commercialisation of biotechnology, any region that has not developed and validated a strategy before leaping into action, is unlikely to see a successful and sustainable cluster.
- HAVE AN ACTION PLAN DERIVED FROM A STRATEGY: As with above, it sounds obvious but a formal, professional business plan for strategy implementation is vital for effective delivery of biotechnology business.
- DEVELOP THE STRATEGY WITH ALL KEY ACTORS (those that will contribute)
- HAVE DEMAND ORIENTED SERVICES AT THE CENTRE OF THE STRATEGY: Publicly funded cluster support should not replace existing services, it should taregt market failures
- HAVE A STEERING GROUP: Include industry players (SMEs, big pharma), funding partners etc.
- GATHER ANNUAL FEEDBACK: Talk to a wider audience to ensure that activities resulting from strategy implementation are impacting target players
- PROJECTS ARE A PLATFORM TO BUILD TRUST: New projects are a tool to maintain dialogue with cluster actors
- PLAN FOR PHYSICAL PROXIMITY OF CLUSTER ACTORS: The closer your actors are, the greater the clustering effect and cross over of skills and business
- CREATE AN ANNUAL FORUM: A platform for local actors to talk once per year at least (see the biocat forum example)
- SELECT YOUR STEERING COMMITTEE AFTER THE STRATEGY HAS BEEN DEVELOPED:
- Complete your SWOT analysis
- Decide the direction of the cluster
- Collect all feedback from actors
- Design your strategy
- THEN engage your Steering Committee
- DEMONSTRATE CLUSTER SUCCESS: Ensure that you find, publish and promote success stories - demonstrating cluster strategy success engages all actors, reinforces clear goals and provides qualitative and quantitative proof of success
- KEEP THE PEOPLE FACTOR AT THE HEART OF YOUR STRATEGY: Keep a certain informality - your cluster is a family, not a corporate brand
- CREATE A VISION THAT IS BIGGER THAN THE STRATEGY: The strategy is a tool to deliver the vision and should be flexible in response to environmental changes
- FORESEE FUTURE CLUSTER NEEDS: The needs of a cluster change as it matures and strategy must adapt to suit (just as the life cycle of an SME)
- GET STRATEGY BUY IN FROM ALL ACTORS: Make the time to work with all personalities in the cluster - they all need to stay engaged in cluster development
- UNDERSTAND AND PLAN SERVICE DEVELOPMENT: What services should you provide; which should be free and which should carry a charge?
- DO NOT DISTORT THE MARKET WITH PUBLICLY FUNDED CLUSTER SERVICES: Do not damage local commercial services - these are also an integral part of cluster identify and growth
- LEARN FROM OTHERS: Talk to people internationally and learn from their experiences - try to avoid paths which lead to a predictable and negative result.
- FIND REGIONAL COMPETENCES: Work with local strengths to build strength and critical mass.