The significance of industrial clusters has been well documented within economic development circles. Industrial clusters are groupings of similar firms in a defined geographic area that share common markets, technologies and access to similar talent. These areas can vary from a single business park to much larger congregations of cities and counties.
These geographic concentrations often have an intangible buzz and their own innovative and enterprising style in-regards-to knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Many cities lay claim to industrial clusters, but the majority of these have developed organically because of historical strengths or mere chance. Once a small collection of similar firms establishes in an area it is then easy for EDOs to reactively target that sector for increased promotion, in the hope of quickly growing a significant industrial cluster. This is traditionally the approach we at OCO have witnessed, and based on this model we have identified clusters and prioritised sectors for EDOs around the world.
However, there has been a noticeable shift in the ambition of EDOs in recent years and many are now seeking to proactively seed and grow clusters in specific sectors. This is perhaps a natural progression as sectors and technologies split into ever more niche functions, with increasingly specialised requirements. Or perhaps, it is a result of the highly competitive nature of investment promotion, with regions seeking to gain the upper hand on rivals and develop areas of capability specifically designed to appeal to particular tranches of investors.
As a process, designing and developing a cluster from scratch is a lot more complex and requires a much greater level of forethought, strategy and collaboration. Not every location can realistically expect to become the next Silicon Valley and it is important that regions understand and play to their strengths if they want to maximise growth.
Cluster development umbrella bodies, comprising stakeholders from local business, government and academia, are being increasingly implemented to act as drivers. OCO is an established consulting service to support regional EDOs and umbrella bodies in all aspects of cluster development. Our unique combination of advisory services, lead generation and marketing support ensures complete coverage of all cluster development considerations. We can partner with stakeholder bodies and assist throughout each stage of the development cycle.