Archive for January, 2004

Cambridge – are you ready to party?

January 24, 2004

 Bill Wicksteed, of consultancy group, SQW Limited  in the UK writes: ‘Many thanks for keeping me on your circulation – it’s much appreciated. Although it may be that you feel too much is heard about Cambridge UK I thought you and your members might find interest in the attached paper/talk that I gave on networking earlier this year’.   Extract follows. 

When the Cambridge cluster started to evolve significantly, some 40 years ago, there was considerable pride in the ‘networking’ culture with individuals from different spheres of the City’s life. Individuals are always important when change is afoot. Key roles in the Cambridge cluster were played by:

§          the distinguished scientist, Sir Neville Mott. His 1968 report argued that Cambridge University would benefit from development of science-based industry around the City and encouraging academics to develop links with it.  At that time this was by no means a self-evident truth.
§          two young bankers, Matthew Bullock and Walter Herriot, who persuaded Barclays Bank to take a strangely imaginative view of firms’ financial needs.
§          the senior administrator of the wealthiest Cambridge College, Dr John Bradfield, who took the bold step of establishing England’s first science park.
§          successive Vice Chancellors who enabled researchers to establish spin outs.  

Cambridge Network Limited ( was established in 1998 – members guide its forward development (and pay £5,000 per year) – major local firms, finance, other service providers, Cambridge City Council, plus ‘outsiders’ too e.g. London Stock Exchange, BTexact and Cranfield University. 

Much of the Cambridge success is very context specific. Cambridge is a rather special place with a very distinctive history and structure, but three observations emerge that are worthy of wider consideration:

1. The importance of key individuals who act as networking ‘nodes’ or ‘animators’.

2. People-to-people interchanges are vital for effective networking (see, smell, touch and then trust).

3. Modern communications technologies can play a rich complementary role. But, for most people, the potential to enhance competitiveness is not a sufficient motivation for active networking and my final point relates to parties.

Cambridge is a good place for parties and many of them are hosted by the major firms of accountants and lawyers that are now in the city. The value of serendipitous exchanges that occur at such gatherings should not be under-rated. Through providing unstructured opportunities to see smell and touch they are vital ingredients in building trust – and, equally important, alloying business duties with a little fun.

Contact Bill at for the full paper. 

Fragmented social capital – Vern Hughes’ solution

January 24, 2004

Vern Hughes, of the Social Entrepreneurs Network ( gave a thought-provoking paper at University of Melbourne forum in September 2003. Salient points:

“The old paradigm still rules – a plethora of agencies dispense services to disconnected, passive and disempowered ‘clients’ using standardized programs and resources for which the agencies are accountable not to their ‘clients’, but to their funders.

The end-users or consumers are external – fashionable references to consumers and communities as ‘stakeholders’ does not alter their systematic exclusion from the financial and the accountability relationships.

It is little wonder, then, that there is an emerging consensus that this old paradigm has delivered fragmented, provider-driven outcomes which contribute little to social capital formation, community participation or end-user empowerment. However there are many micro-level innovations that are challenging this paradigm and breaking new ground.
§          ‘Person by Person’ – families of children with severe disabilities in Melbourne, sick of standardized services, negotiated with the Dept. of Human Services to have their service entitlements cashed out and administered by a budget-holder of their choice.
§          in Aurukun (Cape York) –  families pay their benefits to an indigenous credit union, with negotiated allocations to education, savings, daily living expenses. Has cut spending on alcohol drastically.
§          In Noosa, a non-school community organization has undertaken the management of a high school on a trial basis. Effectively a ‘charter school’ where control is given to a community organization with a licence to act independently in educating a mix of students. 

These innovations strengthen social capital and relationships in ways that the old paradigm cannot. A pre-condition for capacity building and the generation of social capital is the creation of civil space in which communities can allow relationships to form. The above innovations have created this space”.

DNA Cluster – Peterborough, Canada

January 23, 2004

No role for federal governments in clusters? Think again. Here is an example, courtesy of Jay Amer in Canada. Note the novel RFP approach and the alignment of expertise for various components.

The Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation issued a Request for Proposals in October 2004 – it attracted 33 submissions from across North America.

The successful bidders to deliver the next key project initiatives are:
§          Beverley Sheridan, Technology Now, Calgary AB (Intellectual Property Research)
§          Kevin Breese, Breken Technologies, Peterborough ON (Project Management)
§          Jim Skinner, Raleigh NC & Ann Humphreys, Toronto ON (Market Capacity Study)
§          Dr. Jeremy Carver, Woodville, ON (Strategic Alliance)
§          Borys Chabursky, SHI Consulting, Toronto, ON (Commercialization Business Plan & Gap Analysis) Expenditure totals $300k – funded by the Knowledge Based Economy Fund (Industry Canada) and Biotechnology Cluster Innovation Program (Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Trade). The Executive Coordinator position for the Cluster is part-funded by the federal government’s Local Labour Market Partnership Program. 

The Peterborough DNA Cluster Project is a strategic alliance between local private and public sector partners. Its mandate is to advance research of DNA and forensic science and develop its practical applications to initiate innovation, drive new business development and create knowledge-based jobs for the Peterborough region.

The partnership includes the GPAEDC, Trent University, Fleming College, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and several biotech-related businesses.  


Wellington NZ – Creative Manufacturing Cluster

January 23, 2004

This is a new network of engineering, design, manufacturing and related companies whose aim is to generate more business in their area by encouraging a greater degree of export.

In recent years the industry has been relatively static in terms of employment and output, but within the industry a number of members have been experiencing significant growth. This suggests there are opportunities that will deliver growth, but they need to be identified and tackled in a timely fashion.

The process is centred on assisting those companies wishing to move from being general engineers and jobbing manufacturers to being specialists. It involves developing a niche, locally at first, then internationally. Specific aims of the cluster include:
§          Encouraging companies to work with others in the region to identify opportunities. The cluster can provide an environment for faster and more accurate decisions about what to specialise in.
§          Identify needs and develop cluster specific strategies e.g. infrastructure requirements re skilled work force, high speed internet access, venture capital etc.
§          Encouraging companies to think laterally and look into other areas for work.
§          Promote the industry and region as a specialist supplier.
§          Promote the industry as a desirable career. 

‘Positively Wellington Business’ is the marketing name for the Wellington Regional Economic Development Trust that has identified manufacturing as a key economic activity for the region, acting as the manager with a facilitator funded by the Industry New Zealand Cluster Development Program. 

Contact: Ron Daly at Positively Wellington Business 04 494 255 

Global Connect

January 23, 2004


International corporations, universities, and research institutions have a powerful new resource to link with emerging companies for partnership and collaboration.

University of California (San Diego) has just launched Global CONNECT to promote technology enterprises and regional innovation worldwide. It’s an international network supporting high technology and life science companies.

It provides entrepreneurs and startups with access to global capital providers, financial markets, research opportunities, corporate partners, and new customer channels. It’s specifically about sharing best practice, resources, improved assessments of innovation capacity, strengthening university/industry interaction. It is thus a natural bedmate for Clusters Asia Pacific. 

Associate VC at UCSD, Dr. Mary Walshok, said that Global CONNECT is the outcome of the new economy that demands regional support for technology commercialization. “San Diego has a long history of successful collaboration and innovation and we are delighted to be the hub for a series of conferences, workshops and exchanges that will link regions with entrepreneurial aspirations and capabilities worldwide,” said Dr. Walshok. 

Sun Microsystems is the founding industry sponsor. Founding members include the Institute for Information Industry (Taiwan), New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Canadian Consulate General-Los Angeles, Saxony Economic Development Council (Germany), Australian Institute for Commercialization, State Government of Victoria (Australia), CICESE (Mexico), CIAD (Mexico), the Science Center (Philadelphia/USA), DigiPort Technopole Lille-Metropole (France), University of California-Riverside CONNECT (USA), Industrial Research Limited (New Zealand), INTEC (USA), Oklahoma State University Div. Agricultural Science and Natural Resources, South East England Development Agency, Queensland Department of State Development. 

Courtesy of Greg Horowitt at