Shaping the Future of European Clusters: Inside the First Ever Cluster Booster Academy
The ECCP is proud to report that the first ever Cluster Booster Academy was successfully concluded with the two in-person training days in Strasbourg, France on March 02-03, 2023 in close collaboration with the University of Strasbourg. The university offered a very unique perspective for the participants as they are the only university that has its own Master studies programme on cluster management and thus is the pioneer in this field.
An impressive group of 27 cluster managers from more than 20 European countries joined us on this ambitious endeavor! Learn more about what we did, what we learned and what is next!
What is the Cluster Booster Academy?
The Cluster Booster Academy is specifically designed for supporting cluster managers in their current work as much as in their further development of their cluster. The Cluster Booster Academy aims to provide learning opportunities for cluster managers to further develop their own skills, but also their cluster’s future paving the way to becoming a cluster of the future. When daily tasks seem to be piling up on the desk, it is difficult to imagine what the cluster might look like in 5 years time or even 10 years time. Even more so, how do you take the time to think of a strategic approach to achieving your goals, e.g. gaining more cluster members, meeting new stakeholders, starting international collaborations? How do you intend to respond to the omnipresent issues of green and digital transition or resilience? With the methodology, tools and exchange that the Cluster Booster Academy offers we wanted to offer the space where all of these questions can be asked and answered – together!
What did we do?
In order for supporting the cluster managers in a long-lasting and sustainable way, we worked on their specific challenges and goals and helped them get started on their very own strategic action plan development in a total of 4 days:
Days 1 & 2: On December 01-02, 2022 we organised the first two virtual training days which focused on strategy development and cluster business models and served as a kick-off to getting to know each other, working together in breakout groups and sharing experiences, plans, and best practices. The sessions were complemented by speakers Lucia Seel, international communications expert and Christoph Reiss-Schmidt, cluster expert from the Business Upper Austria cluster. We closed the training session with everyone walking out with the early stages of an action plan for their specific cluster organisations.
What did the participants do between December and March?
Despite the holiday season we were glad to stay in close touch with all participants by scheduling 3 coaching sessions for each in December, January and February. Each of the coaching sessions had pre-defined homework with templates and ‘food for thought’, which were discussed in the sessions. Furthermore, the participants were to report on their progress of the action plan and we would spark discussions, give feedback, new ideas, etc. These sessions served as continuous preparations for the in-person sessions.
Days 3 & 4: On March 02-03, 2023 we collaborated with the University of Strasbourg – known to be the only University with their own cluster management studies programme – to offer an in-person training session to ‘really get to work’. One of the responses to the above mentioned questions was given by Professor Alain Tubiana of the University of Strasbourg when he kindly spoke about how to grow a cluster organisation and how to engage the current members more to bring value add to the cluster organisation as a whole.
In two big groups we worked on sharing experiences when further elaborating on their own action plans, what expected or unexpected new challenges arose, how they handled them and how they foresee their cluster’s future. We worked in smaller discussion groups but also in a plenary setting, filled out lots of sticky notes and papers to visualize our work in progress.
How was it?
The mix of different countries, industries, ecosystems and maturity levels allowed for a highly versatile exchange between all participants. Participants realized that no matter how great things might be going, there is always a ‘but’ and they were not alone with that. Participants and speakers discussed different topics close to their own work, giving each other tips, talking about future touchpoints, etc. It was incredible to see how open, supportive and engaged everyone was for the whole 2 days we spent together. This first Cluster Booster Academy truly started to build a community of European cluster managers with lots of different, but also similar experiences. Below you can find some quotes that capture their views:
“Excellent opportunity to understand challenges of other clusters and connect with them.”
“The training provides an opportunity to create a better structure for any cluster, regardless of number of years.”
“The training can provide participants with a very strong knowledge and a wide range of practical skills. It also provides a unique opportunity for networking between European Clusters that no other event currently offers.”
We will soon organize the second Cluster Booster Academy and publish the open call for participants to apply. If you also want to join, please sign up to our newsletter to not miss the application period and any other upcoming events for you to join!
If you are curious to see the training material we worked with, feel free to download the documents below: