Archive for November, 2006

French clusters moving at speed of TGV

November 16, 2006

The international cluster fraternity (The Competitiveness Institute – TCI) met in Lyon in October 2006, with a record attendance of 435 across 62 countries. Tracy Scott-Rimington was the sole Australian representative. NZ had three reps. Quiet pitiful folks. 

The conference included numerous cluster tours, a large academic summit (1,000 attendees) and a serious inter-cluster forum.

The French clusters are moving along at about the same velocity as the TGV.  The cluster tours illuminated the fact that nothing works better than a country ‘in sync’.  Each region and locality has its competitive capabilities well mapped, integrated and supported.

The most strategic clusters then form the French “Poles de Competitivite” (competitiveness poles) and they are underpinned by strong and strategic public and private investment in R&D etc.  Big ticket projects falling out of these ‘Competitiveness Poles’ are then backed under the EU’s overarching cluster policy. The result is rather awe-inspiring collaboration in regional development.

 Portland, Oregon USA is the venue for TCI 2007 (October) and the tip is South Africa for 2008!  

There was a consensus re the need for governments to be serious.  The typical Australian example of dribbling out $15k or $20k is a well-documented road to failure. Early results are also deemed essential. Our governments (in Oz) seem to be unsure as to how and where to intervene because they don’t understand what they’ve got in the first place!

Hence the need for a Cluster ScoreCard as developed last year by CAP. We still don’t understand our own industries’ competitiveness on a global scale.  So we continue to bury our heads in our coal dust.  Wouldn’t it be funny if we discovered that our true competitive advantages were in Desert and Tropical Knowledge?  After all, we’re the only 1st world country inhabiting both!

Contributed by Tracy Scott-Rimington (CREDC) in Cairns.

For the papers, see  You need to be a TCI member to access these.