Archive for November, 2007

Silo mentality exposes governments’ own rhetoric

November 17, 2007


Collaboration is increasingly international. Collaboration is fundamental to innovative solutions in a complex world. But government agencies toss the word around with gay abandon, and the continuing silo mentality exposes their own rhetoric.

Governments simply MUST spend time more understanding how collaboration can be nurtured. A healthy collaborative environment can be built, just like you can an investment environment.

These and related issues were explored a couple of years back by Donald Beaver, of Williams College, Massachusetts – Reflections on scientific collaboration (and its study): past, present and future, (Scientometrics, Vol. 52, No. 3).

Beaver says that collaboration offers many benefits – speed, power and efficiency of research; breadth and synergy of projects; reduced risk of ventures; and feedback, dissemination, and visibility of results.

His article reviews past research and seeks to understand present thinking about collaboration, and speculates about the future, focusing on technologies like email and the Internet. 

Beaver argues that scientific collaboration was a relatively rare event until World War I, after which it grew at a much more rapid rate. Two facts of interest were apparent early – a collaborative first paper meant above average productivity later, and elite scientific journals published disproportionately more collaborative papers than did less prestigious journals. They still do. Today over 90 percent of papers in some journals are collaborative. 

However his broader point is specially important – that as globalization and internationalization continue, emphasis on cooperation becomes an increasingly common counterpoint to the current emphasis on competition and individuality.

Globalization is leading to a greater geographical diversity of collaborators – whether they are individuals, laboratories, or institutes. Physical location is no longer a barrier to the free and easy exchange of information. And the advent of email had already begun to increase diversity in geographical locations. (I am in Canberra. Where are you?)

We believe it is critically important for governments to get a better grip on the factor conditions for collaboration. It is a key to good policymaking in many fields. It cannot be left to the private sector, where competition is God.


Innovation NZ style (BEST PRACTICE)

November 15, 2007

An advanced food pilot plant is under construction in NZ – $6.5 million cost – completion by February 2008 – at the Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health on Massey University’s Palmerston North campus.

It will cater both for industrial needs and academic requirements. It will meet the NZ Food Safety Authority standards and be able to produce small scale product batches which meet export certification. 

The plant includes smaller laboratories to allow sensitive work in tandem with teaching classes, a complex of chillers and freezers, a food quality assessment laboratory, and a sensory suite for consumer trials. 

Post-harvest quality has a dedicated laboratory area including 5 specialised walk-in temperature and humidity-controlled rooms. Dedicated food engineering and dairy processing equipment will be housed in separate areas, and a research area is devoted to extrusion technology – first in NZ.


Our assessment

These plants are becoming commonplace in the EC and elsewhere. For example, there is a similar plant at Werribee (outside Melbourne) which is around 8 years old. However the Palmerston North plant has the potential to be more effective than the Werribee plant, and many others. There are 3 reasons:

  • it provides a ‘lighthouse’ for increased focus on high value food product  for export markets, where NZ is already ahead of Australia.
  • it can enhance NZ’s clean, green image, where it has a clear global position.
  • it can help, by the research and market trialling of niche exotic products, leverage the mystique that NZ holds in distant global markets.

Getting more out of regional universities

November 15, 2007

A couple of years back we identified an OECD-sponsored research paper by Arbo and Benneworth on the role of universities in regional economic development.

The study is even more relevant today.

Within the long paragraphs and academic language, it raises very important issues about the universities – especially their roles as anchors of regional innovation systems, providers of lifelong learning opportunities, partners in regional governance, and promoters of sustainable development strategies.

A key section talks about the role of universities in driving the concept of industrial districts and regional-political ventures that circumventing the core metropolitan regions.

The study also notes the significance of network initiatives aimed at small and medium-sized companies and the establishment of technology and competence centres and marketing agencies. 

Arbo and Benneworth stress that universities can no longer sit apart from other local actors as an “ivory tower.” As knowledge and innovation become more important components of regional development, the role of universities become critical.

Go to “Understanding the Regional Contribution of Higher Educational Institutions: A Literature Review,”

Getting REAL on economic development

November 15, 2007

Earlier this year, Sandy K. Baruah, head of the Economic Development Administration in the USA wrote an article titled “The Five New Realities of Economic Development in the 21st Century”.

Sandy authored the article because he says he’s in the ‘what’s next’ business.

His five realities are: 

1. We are in a global economy, where competition comes from anyone (any corner of the globe) with a good education, a good idea and a good Internet connection (take note regional Australia).

2. The pace of change will accelerate – innovation is becoming multidisciplinary as different technologies converge, creating fields that didn’t even exist just a few decades ago. 

3. Components of competitiveness cannot be pursued separately. This means that separate silos in workforce, social and community, economic development etc. can no longer be tolerated. 

4. The private sector is the most important element of any successful economic development strategy. Unless the private sector is ready, willing and able to invest, growth will not occur, regardless of how much government spends.

5. The ability to innovate is the only sustainable competitive advantage of a nation, region or company.

Well, you can’t fault his logic, and our economic development adviser in the USA, David Dodd, speaks very highly of him.

                                     We are THE experts in international networking
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Seine-Normandie Logistics Cluster (BEST PRACTICE)

November 14, 2007

The Seine-Normandie Logistics Competitiveness Cluster (LSN) was established in 2005. It has 5,000 companies in Haute and Basse Normandie, employing 80,000 jobs.

The aims are to:
§          Identify innovative logistic projects.
§          Promote skills and improve performance of member logistics companies.
§          Provide economic monitoring.
§          Meet the employment/training needs of professionals in the sector.  

The emphasis of the cluster is on traceability and information systems. Its CALAS project deals with a laser triangulation prototype at the Normandy terminal, offering real-time tracking of thousands of containers in a port and improves customer service. 

Contact : Adeline GENAUD  (An attempt was made to establish a logistics cluster around Melbourne airport around 2001 – Editor). 

We are THE experts in international networking
– for more information, contact us at or ring 61-2-62317261

Danish view on clusters

November 14, 2007

Hi Rod, I just checked into your new blog for the first time.

It was a very positive experience. In particular I found the front page extract from John Houghton’s report to be very insightful, capturing the essence of what a governmental cluster strategy must be capable of achieving to get the expected outcome – improving linkages and generating investments.  

Here in Denmark clusters draw a lot of attention these days, recognising that cluster can be nurtured in order to improve capabilities, knowledge-sharing, research, and faster and better innovations. This requires government and knowledge institutions joining forces with private enterprise to drive the agenda.

However, much too often there is no regional framework to make sure that policies are being coordinated across various administrative levels, rendering the cluster efforts isolated and random.  When sharing insights on clusters, it is crucial to recognise the specific policy situation.

For instance, the uptake on clusters in UK was very powerful when the Regional Development Agencies came into place 7-8 years ago. Previously there had been next to no coordination of regional development, so the RDAs filled a policy vacuum. In this situation, and with substantial funding, RDAs had great impact.  

This is a very different situation from Scandinavian countries, where regional industrial policy has existed for many years, and where the level of coordination and political involvement in regional industrial policy making is substantially greater. Here, any attempt to introduce cluster building successfully as an industrial policy approach must recognise the organisational and political structures already in place. It should be recognised that a high level of coordination between a substantial number of public bodies and agencies as well as a high level of focus on industrial policy at a political level means that new approaches and ideas cannot be expected to be implemented overnight, but tend to be implemented incrementally. 

The skeptics claim that clusters are merely networks.

The network approach, so distinctly the main approach in Denmark, has its focus on the sharing of knowledge and experiences between companies. It gives the companies the opportunity to learn from each other across different sectors and on very specific issues. 

However, compared with the cluster approach, the network approach has clear limitations. There is no value chain linkage between the participating companies – hence there tends to be little or no strategic business focus. Obviously, this limits the amount of commitment by companies and only creates limited synergy. 

Your blog is excellent in distilling key findings from many qualified sources. The country pages are as yet limited, random and possibly outdated. But maybe this will encourage people to file updates!

All the best, Bjarne Jensen – Secretariat for REG LAB

We are THE experts in international networking
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Strategic networking is the key, says INSEAD

November 14, 2007

Managers today juggle more responsibilities than ever and for many of them networking becomes an afterthought.

Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD (north of Paris) says that’s a potentially fatal career mistake. “What you know is who you know,” she says and warns that managers who neglect to build their networks risk failing or remaining stuck in middle management.

“Other things being equal, what is going to give you an edge?  It’s the relationships that you have that allow you to augment what you know and allow you to take the ‘what you know’ and actually to translate it into practice, into something the organization can use. It makes all the difference.”

There are three types of networks important in business:

·          Operational networking – cultivating the relationships with people you need to accomplish your job. Most people master this skill or they wouldn’t be in management.  But some managers don’t reach out widely enough to build all the relationships they need.
·          Personal networking – an afterthought for many busy managers.  These networks allow you to meet a diverse group of like-minded professionals.
·          Strategic networking – the toughest but most essential if managers want to become business leaders.  Contact with peers and senior executives is vital. It allows the sharing of ideas about best practices in management, learn new approaches etc.

To see Ibarra’s article called ‘How Leaders Create and Use Networks’, go to

We are THE experts in international networking
– for more information, contact us at or ring 61-2-62317261

Singapore is the Big Easy – NZ second!

November 14, 2007

As more nations recognize the importance of entrepreneurship, their governments are reforming rules and regulations to ease the business development process.

The latest edition of the World Bank’s Doing Business report shows that these trends are taking hold. The number of new business starts in Eastern Europe now surpasses the impressive numbers found in East Asia.

Meanwhile, many long-time laggards, like Egypt, Croatia, and Ghana, now appear on the lists as “top reformers” i.e. governments that have implemented major reforms in their business regulation systems.  

Overall, Singapore takes the top spot as the easiest place to do business. Rounding out the top 10 (in order)  are New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong, Denmark, UK, Canada, Ireland, Australia and Iceland.

View the findings of the World Bank’s 2008 Doing Business report at 

Original source: NDOE

                                 We are THE experts in international networking
                       for more information, contact us at or ring 61-2-62317261


November 14, 2007

The EU’s Interreg project, INNOFIRE has developed a database web tool.

It links partners/regions (10 regions in 8 countries) to facilitate networking and trans-regional cooperation in the medical technology sector in Europe.  

The portal shows an online “Technology Map” with company profiles and cooperation requests. It highlights individuals, companies, universities and R&D institutes, hospitals/clinics, networks/clusters, technology centres/incubators, regional/local development agencies etc. Cost of membership is 100 euros +.

                                        We are THE experts in international networking
                       for more information, contact us at or ring 61-2-62317261

Collaborator Profile – Des Adamson (Dunedin, NZ)

November 14, 2007

Who and where are you? 

I am located in Dunedin, a city with a population of 122,000 (25,000 who are students). I have worked extensively in the private and public sectors and currently am employed by the Dunedin City Council’s Economic Development Unit as a Business Development Advisor. Dunedin is an incredible city with a reputation as having NZ’s leading University (University of Otago). The city is home to a growing number of innovative companies and entrepreneurs who have easy access to smart educational personnel and facilities. Dunedin is also the gateway to Central Otago where vineyards flourish in the hot summers and ski-fields ensure fun in the abundant clear winter days.  

What’s your job?

I work as an advocate for business in Dunedin.  The city’s Economic Development Unit assists business through:
§          Helping with business planning, evaluation and mentoring
§          Helping promote skilled employment vacancies
§          Helping  fund market research and new market opportunities including exporting
§          Assisting with linkages to R & D subsidies and potential investors 
§          Helping key industries network to enhance business opportunities e.g. cluster initiatives §          Rates Relief for new or expanding business 

What’s exciting you at present? 

The Economic Development Unit is currently involved in a number of exciting and innovative projects:
§          Innovative on-campus program to assist students with their ideas, start-ups ( Involves collaboration between University Business School and student projects.
§          Collaborative project between the University/Polytechnic/Economic Development Unit and business in setting up a ‘Design Institute’ in the city. Dunedin has a growing reputation as a ‘design’ hub.
§          Collaborative project between the University/Port Otago/Engineering Dunedin and the Economic Development Unit regarding oil and gas exploration in the Great South Basin. 

What are your top 3 tips on how to collaborate?  
§          Integrity in all relationships
§          Listening in all relationships
§          Realism in all relationships  

What collaborative projects do you have to interest Cockatoo readers

 We have a number of clusters (Engineering, ICT, Fashion, Biotech, Food, Education).  Growing or emerging businesses are members of these clusters. They would benefit hugely by some cross pollination with other business clusters. If anyone has ideas and examples that have worked with putting mixed cluster groups together, I would value your opinions. Any other thoughts on collaborative advantages please contact me. 

Email address: