Collaborating to Compete: Clusters in Action

Cluster success is often the result of collaboration, more than just the agglomeration of anchor firms, R&D labs, incubators and accelerators, and disrupting organizations. Regions with clusters that actively collaborate within and between one another are more competitive.

As firms continue to face new challenges from technological, economic, and political shifts, clusters remain a driving catalyst that can create sustainable levels of innovation and economic growth. Firms, at the heart of active clusters, with the support of those within the cluster ecosystem, can weather the changing dynamics of the global marketplace.

TCI 2018 explores the collaboration that is happening within clusters and the opportunities to work together towards shared prosperity.

Sub-Themes

TCI 2018 has four sub-themes: 

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Regional economic development and inclusive prosperity

As clusters flourish and grow, particularly in urban centres, governments and firms must consider how to balance this growth with inclusive prosperity to ensure that those inside and outside of these areas are benefiting from increased competitiveness and prosperity.

This sub-theme considers clusters as a way to spur regional economic development and inclusive prosperity by focusing on smart specialization, mobilizing talent and diversity, creating networks for innovation to connect those outside of a region or cluster, and building infrastructure and smart cities that enable continued growth and inclusivity. This sub-theme also examines the role of cluster managers, businesses, and government in fostering economic growth and prosperity. 

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Mobilizing talent and diversity

In the midst of technological, economic, and political shifts, such as the movement towards Industry 4.0, changes in trade agreements and markets, and the onslaught of automation, clusters and corresponding actors can stay resilient by mobilizing their talent and retaining leaders.

These shifts are also enabling the creation of emerging clusters, which require new and diverse sets of skills and competencies. Often these skills and competencies are scarce within a region and therefore immigration and infrastructure (e.g., affordable housing, reliable public transit, and attractive taxation regimes) are integral to maintaining the growth trajectory of an emerging cluster.

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Scaling up within cluster ecosystems

As firms continue to grow, government, research organizations/universities, incubators and accelerators, and other firms within the cluster play a vital supporting role in their continued success. The interactions and collaboration between those within a cluster ecosystem are crucial to a firm’s ability to scale. Often, traditional competitors within a cluster cooperate (known as ‘co-opetition’) to create shared value and innovations that outweigh any costs of working together.

This sub-theme investigates how inclusion within a cluster ecosystem can enable accelerated growth that firms and regions need to remain competitive.

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Designing collaborative networks for innovation

Innovation is one of the key outcomes of collaboration within and between clusters. Innovations produce added value to the customer in the form of new or better products, services, and processes. Fostering the interactions that can lead to greater levels of effective collaboration can be done within networks. These networks can take many forms, including formal or informal, industry or production chain, global linkages, and university-business linkages. Networks can cross geographical and spatial boundaries and can therefore connect clusters across towns, cities, regions, and macro-regions (e.g., Great Lakes Region, Baltic Sea Region).

This sub-theme explores the many ways that innovation occurs within these networks. It also considers how to design these networks to overcome barriers and maximize collaboration to generate the desired innovation for shared value. Finally, this sub-theme examines the results of collaboration within these networks, including opportunities for international trade.