Learning Layers – What are we learning in the current phase of our fieldwork? (Part 4: Learning from cluster organisations elsewhere)
In my previous posts in this series I have mainly focused on the efforts of the ITB team and the application partners in North Germany. However, an essential part of the picture of the fieldwork is the involvement of external partners of the Learning Layers (LL) project who have accompanied our field activities and provided feedback from parallel developments in Europe. In particular we should pay attention to the work of Gilbert Peffer (CIMNE) and Tor-Arne Bellika (I-Perform) who have taken the responsibility to find out as much as possible of European cluster policies and of the functioning of cluster organisations in Europe.
In general, it was refreshing to learn from the functioning and of the services of well-organised cluster organisations elsewher in Europe. In this respect it was interesting to learn of the cross-sectoral cluster region in Upper Austria (Oberösterreich). In a similar way it was important to learn of the specific cluster organisation in ecological construction work in Lower Austria (Niederösterreich). The former example drew attention to new cooperation prospects across accustomed boundaries. The latter example drew attention to new possibilities for knowledge transfer in the context of same area of specialisation.
Also, the work of these ambassadors of knowledge transfer has drawn attention to the fact that it was not only the ‘results’ and organisational´models of ‘mature clusters’ that were important in promoting innovations. It has been very helpful to learn what kinds of services such cluster organisations can provide for their members (e.g. in the context of HRD, talent finding, training, ICT support and logistics). In particular it is important to see that the member organisations are often SMEs who couldn’t provide such services on their own but can benefit of joining forces with each other.
This perspective is very important for the LL project. There are many ways of presenting the results of our design activities and sharing the results as ‘offerings’. As an example, the webinar concept with which we have piloted in Verden, could be developed further as such offering. Also. there are many ways of engaging users in our development activities. Its was inspiring to find out that the participative co-design workshops of the LL project and the efforts to promote user engagement attract the interest of cluster organisations elsewhere in Europe.
This all is part of what we are learning in the current phase of our fieldwork.
Acknowledgements. This work is supported by the European Commission under the FP7 project LAYERS (no. 318209), http://www.learning-layers.eu.