Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

There’s something about San Sebastian!

January 31, 2013

Report from TCI’s annual global conference

The 15th TCI annual global conference was held in the Basque Country from 16-19 October 2012. A highly successful event with 450 delegates representing 67 countries. (Unfortunately I was the only Australian this year). The conference theme was “Place based competitiveness in times of global change”, underlining the need to be focused and strategic in promoting the competitive advantages of regions and localities.

There IS something about Sas Sebastian! One of the many workshops was dedicated to understanding the bleak situation with the Spanish economy – however one would have thought Spain a much rosier place walking the streets of San Sebastian. The pounding of the Atlantic around the headland of the old town, the surf beaches and pintxos (Basque form of tapas) bars on every corner make for a wonderful setting. In fact San Sebastian was voted one of Europe’s top food and wine cities by Trip Advisor in 2012, boasting more Michelin star restaurants than any other European city.

The success of the Basque country in weathering the economic storms over Europe is palpable. Tours to various Basque clusters further highlighted this. Basque was one of the early adapters of a competitive cluster policy and their clusters are performing and centrepiece to the Basque economy.

Cluster policy pioneers such as Antonio Subira, Catalonia; Jon Azua, Basque Country; Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, NZ; Gerd Meier zu Kocke, Germany; Alonso Ramos Vaca, Mexico, discussed the past 15 years of TCI and cluster policy. The session facilitated by Christian Ketels, current TCI President, celebrated the vision and commitment of the Basque people to their policy of ‘clusterisation and strategic thinking’.

Michael Porter summed things up by saying we no longer need to understand the ‘why and what of cluster policy’, we just need to get better at doing the ‘how’. Michael Porter has recently developed a Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) program as a platform that can be taught at universities around the world to improve understanding of competitiveness and clusters.

I presented the views of Australian women cluster managers in the “Gender and Diversity in Clusters” workshop with three other brave women from Denmark, Germany and Austria. The audience grew as we went along and by the end we felt we had hit on a topic that resonates. There seems to be a quiet swell of renewed interest in gender and diversity issues.

The issue, in Europe and elsewhere, is that plenty of women are in the top jobs, including managing clusters, but few are on Boards. Norway has just implemented a 40% compulsory inclusion of women on Boards policy apparently. Also an issue of representation of women in engineering and design sectors. They are at universities, but this is not translating to the industries. Great case study presented by Kersten Hindrum, an engineer from the Danish maritime sector, about a ‘women only’ designed pleasure craft which received rave reviews and media at this year’s Danish boat show. The point was that women use the indoors of the craft and therefore should design them!

Expect to see more on this subject at the TCI annual conference in Kolding, Denmark in September 2013.

Contributed by Tracy Scott-Rimington (Brisbane) tracysr@bigpond.com. Go to http://www.tcinetwork.org

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There’s something about San Sebastian

October 30, 2012

Report from TCI’s 2012 global conference

This year’s 15th TCI annual global conference was held in the Basque Country from 16-19 October.

It was a highly successful event with around 450 delegates representing 67 countries. (Unfortunately I was the only Australian this year). The theme of the conference was “Place based competitiveness in times of global change”, underlining the need to be focused and strategic in promoting the competitive advantages of regions and localities.

There’s something about Sans Sebastian! One of the many workshops was dedicated to understanding the bleak situation with the Spanish economy – however one would have thought Spain a much rosier place walking the streets of Sans Sebastian. The pounding of the Atlantic around the headland of the old town, the surf beaches and pintxos (Basque form of tapas) bars on every corner make for a wonderful setting. In fact San Sebastian was voted one of Europe’s top food and wine cities by Trip Advisor in 2012, boasting more Michelin star restaurants than any other European city.

The success of the Basque country in weathering the economic storms over Europe was palpable. Tours to various Basque clusters further highlighted the fact. Basque was one of the early adapters of a competitive cluster policy and their clusters are performing and centrepiece to the Basque economy.

Cluster policy pioneers such as Antonio Subira, Catalonia; Jon Azua, Basque Country; Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, NZ; Gerd Meier zu Kocke, Germany; Alonso Ramos Vaca, Mexico, took to the floor to discuss the past 15 years of TCI and cluster policy. The session, facilitated by Christian Ketels, current TCI President, resulted in a celebration of the vision and commitment of the Basque people to their economic development policy of ‘clusterisation and strategic thinking’.

Michael Porter summed things up – by a video-conference – saying we no longer need to understand the ‘why and what of cluster policy’, we just need to get better at doing the ‘how’. Michael Porter has recently developed a Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) program as a platform that can be taught at universities around the world to improve understanding of competitiveness and clusters.

I presented the views of Australian women cluster Managers in the “Gender and Diversity in Clusters” workshop with three other brave women from Denmark, Germany and Austria. The audience grew as we went along and by the end we felt we had hit on a topic that resonates. There seems to be a quiet swell of renewed interest in gender and diversity issues.

The issue, in Europe and elsewhere, is that plenty of women are in the top jobs, including managing clusters, but few are on Boards. Norway has just implemented a 40% compulsory inclusion of women on Boards policy apparently.

Also an issue of representation of women in engineering and design sectors. They are at universities, but this is not translating to the industries. Great case study presented by Kersten Hindrum, an engineer from the Danish maritime sector, about a ‘women only’ designed pleasure craft which received rave reviews and media at this year’s Danish boat show. The point was that women use the indoors of the craft and therefore should design them!

Expect to see more on this subject at the TCI annual conference in Kolding, Denmark in September 2013.

For more info on the Sans Sebastian conference or the TCI network http://www.tcinetwork.org. Also contact Tracy Scott-Rimington (Brisbane) at tracysr@bigpond.com

Collaborator Profile – Carmen Sillero (Andalucía, Spain)

March 6, 2012

WHO AND WHERE ARE YOU?

I’m Carmen Sillero (Masters Degree, Agronomical Engineering), Head of International Programmes at the Agency of Innovation and Development of Andalusia (Agencia IDEA). Andalusia is the southernmost region in Spain, on the south west vertex of the European Union. Most populous (8.4 million inhabitants) and second largest of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities (87,957 km2).

WHAT IS YOU JOB?

I am responsible for the international activities at Agencia IDEA. That means, mainly the management of a range of territorial cooperation programmes among the European regions, funded by the European Union, and the foresight of international opportunities to better connect andalusian economic agents in the global market. As an Innovation Agency, attached to the Regional Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Science, our objectives are:
 Promotion of public-private partnerships.
 Development of the spirit of enterprise and innovation.
 Design and implementation of quality support services.
 Provision of capital resources for the support and finance of businesses.
 Establishment of an appropriate administrative environment adapted for the creation of business.

One of our main tasks is to foster the andalusian participation in international cooperating networks, mainly those focused on innovation and business cooperation.

WHAT IS EXCITING YOU AT PRESENT?

Spain is suffering the tougher crisis since the 1940’s, after the civil war. Although the huge effort my region has made in the last 20 years on improving human capacities and creating knowledge facilities to support a new economic model, the current economic situation is forcing andalusian firms to close and therefore many jobs are being destroyed.

Is in this moment when our Regional Government is asked by the European Commission to propose a new strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, by which our territorial challenges should be faced. This strategy must be based on:
 The specialisation of our productive sector, in line with the improvement of our R&D capacities and the enhancement of our human resources skills.
 Strengthening of territorial cooperation.
 Linking our firms into global value chains.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 TIPS ON HOW TO COLLABORATE?

1 Engagement on the achievement of a clear and shared common target.
2. Mutual understanding. Different cultures, different approaches, but the same goal.
3. Hard work. Resilience.

WHAT COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS WOULD INTEREST COCKATOO READERS?

We are a Regional Development Agency, thus glad to share experiences and develop common projects with other public institutions re promotion, support, funding of innovative SMEs, focused in internationalization.

Given Andalusian industrial capacities and R&D strengths, our work on healthy food, biotechnology, tourism and renewable energy, could be very interesting areas for collaboration.

Aligning our strategies for joint market exploration could be especially worthy.

(Carmen is a tireless collaborator – she was a key organizer of the OECD/EC Smart Specialisation Strategies workshops in Seville in November 2011. Agencia IDEA is an ideal partner for facilitating trade and investment with Spanish companies. Contact her at csillero@agenciaidea.es – Editor)

Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3)

December 16, 2011

The Seville conference sponsored by the OECD, European Commission and Government of Andalusia in November was instructive at numerous levels. Rod Brown of the Cockatoo Network gave a paper proposing that Spanish and EC stakeholders start getting serious about linking with clusters in Asia,North Americaand elsewhere via the Sunrise Project.

 Conference highlights were:

  • Sectors that might be priorities for international collaboration with Andalusia via the Sunrise Project are aerospace, marine, engineering & construction (significant capability – was booming but now in bust phase), solar energy, building materials, new materials, aquaculture, processed food, beef and pork (home of the Iberian pig), education, creative arts and eco-tourism. 
  • The S3 agenda allows the private sector (with academia) to identify development nodes, while providing the means by which governments can facilitate them. An EC speaker said it will also assist it in directing Structural Funds expenditure (interesting message).   
  • S3 is evidence-based and ‘entrepreneurial’ (hence bottom-up) and is designed to identify potential competitive advantages in a global context. It’s about ‘helping a locality to excel in something specific’, and thereby attract investment and develop critical mass.
  • There are 12 countries about to commence case studies to basically understand the S3 processes. The case studies are worth tracking by Cockatoo members. Examples:

–         Australia(focus on rural industries)

–         Austria(mechatronics, Green Buildings)

–         Belgium(nanotechnology for health)

–         Finland(activating R&D in future growth markets, incl. test markets)

–         Germany(healthcare, ICT, creative industries, energy, transport, logistics)

–         Turkey(automotive)

–         UK(electric vehicles)

Rod Brown raised the possibility of EC firms using Australiaas a springboard into Asia. He stressed the importance of connectivity between stakeholders across regions, especially informal contacts to get the ball rolling. The message was to identify potential collaborators and then jump on a plane. This could be a precursor to a formal investment mission, if and when that is required.

Investment attraction – Barcelona

April 5, 2011

 

A Cockatoo member recently sought the help of the Cockatoo Network to learn of any studies that have been done on early stage “innovative” company migration. We got some very helpful replies – thank you all. One of them was from Emeritus Professor David Charles (Newcastle UK).

“I recall being in Barcelona a couple of years ago and being given a presentation on how they were looking to attract such mobile firms looking for a foothold in Europe. They had a specific scheme for them, the landing program – http://www.landingbarcelona.com/

 (It does indeed look interesting – it is a program to accelerate the growth of the select knowledge-intensive companies through globally linked co-incubation programs – Editor)

Universities must engage in regions, says OECD

May 14, 2009

 A very interesting OECD report “Higher Education and Region’ has landed on our desk, written by Cockatoo member and ‘Oz-phile’ Patrick Dubarle, Paul Benneworth et al. It should be compulsory reading for every Vice-Chancellor, university academic and regional development practitioner in the civilized world. It draws on findings from 14 regions across 12 countries.

 The basic message is that higher education institutions (HEIs) must do more than educate and research – they must engage with others in their region, provide opportunities for lifelong learning, and contribute to the development of knowledge-intensive jobs.

 The report synthesizes the main developments, and provides scores of examples of best practice. Some that attracted our attention are:

  • The ‘Knowledge House’ in NE England – addresses the reluctance of SMEs to go anywhere near a university by providing a nifty, common entry point to the five universities in the region.
  • University Jaume I in Valencia – helping to transform the SME-based ceramic tile industry.
  • University of Sunderland – helping to make Nissan’s new plant the most productive in Europe.
  • Provincial University of Lapland – reaching out to remote communities.
  • Aalborg University (Denmark) building its education program around Problem Based Learning.
  • Monterrey International Knowledge City (MICK) in north east Mexico.

 The book can be purchased on-line at the OECD – ISBN 978-92-64-03414-3. Patrick Dubarle is now a freelance consultant, living at beautiful Meudon – contact him at phdubarle@club.fr

Barcelona Cultural Industries Cluster

February 10, 2009

 

The Interarts Foundation in Spain has engineered local policy support for creative industries as a viable alternative to traditional models of job creation and as a potential engine for growth.

 

The Foundation develops cluster projects based on the idea that the creative industries are a good source of jobs when the manufacturing base is being eroded.

 

It is also consistent with the policy trend towards creativity and innovation. This project has demonstrated the importance of creating spaces in which creative activities can develop in an indigenous way, and to nurture the networks by which the cluster can become sustainable.

 

The project has changed local stakeholder mentality i.e. to appreciate the potential of the creative industries.

 

Go to Developing clusters for the creative industries in Barcelona

Rise in R&D tax breaks, says OECD

November 11, 2007

More OECD governments are giving companies tax breaks to drive innovation and cut their direct spending on R&D, while also encouraging public research organisations to commercialise their inventions, according to a new OECD report.

The key findings of the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2007 are:
·          two thirds of OECD members offer businesses tax subsidies – up from 12 a decade ago.
·          Spain, China, Mexico and Portugal provide the largest tax subsidies.
·          Canada and the Netherlands continue to be more generous to small firms.
·          Emerging economies – Brazil, India, Singapore, South Africa – also offer a generous tax environment for businesses investing in R&D.
·          Sharp rise in globalisation of innovation e.g. international co-authorship of scientific publications.
·          Foreign ownership of domestic patents up 50% between early 1990s and early 2000s.
·          EU countries interact most with each other – less globalised than USA (interesting!).
·          Total gross expenditure on R&D grew 4.6% p.a. in real terms between 1995-2001, but slowed to 2.2% p.a. between 2001-2005.
·          In the USA, 4/5 of researchers work in business sector – in Japan it’s 2/3, and 1/2 in EU.
·          No. of business researchers grew rapidly in smaller OECD countries – NZ, Portugal, Spain, Iceland and Greece (10% p.a. in past decade). In China, 15% p.a.
·          USA has the most biotech firms (2,200), followed by Japan and France (800 each). But biotech patents has been falling – due to more restrictive criteria applied by patent offices, and end of the wave of patenting that followed the decoding of the human genome.
·          80% of Korean households have high-speed broadband access – also has highest surplus in ICT goods trade balance, followed by Finland, Hungary and Japan.

Contact us at apd@orac.net.au for more information.

Valencia – more than oranges

October 16, 2007

I returned in late 2006 from participation as an external consultant in an OECD experts group advising the Greater Valencia Region on investment attraction, internationalisation and innovation. 

This was a case study of a series of reviews undertaken by the OECD Programme on Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED).  The project aims at providing policy recommendations to the city governments, its economic development agency and their partners on how to develop an FDI and internationalisation strategy for the city. A final OECD report will be published early next year.

Valencia, south-east of Madrid, is the third largest city in Spain. It has a long tradition of academic excellence, a very substantial manufacturing base (transport equipment, textiles and clothing, ceramics, food, toys), strong lifestyle attributes, and serves as a major transport logistics hub into Europe.

Our discussions revealed concern within Valencia about competing with imports from China and India, the lack of connectivity between the research community and industry, ‘branch plant’ multinationals, and water availability.

These are issues in which certain regions in Australia have some experience, and Adelaide and Perth in particular have a window to collaborate with Valencia, being cities of similar size and located in a mediterranean climate. Valencia is also host to the 2007 Americas Cup – hence another link to Perth. We would be interested in hearing of agencies wishing to be briefed further on this.    

Further information on the LEED Programme and its activities can be found at: www.oecd.org/cfe/LEED

Vestas takes the bait in Singapore

October 15, 2007

Hard on the heels of Heinz’ decision to base its regional headquarters in Singapore, Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s largest manufacturer of wind turbines, located its R&D team of 150 engineers there in 2005. It included a reported investment of $US319 million over the next 10 years.

The Danish company has installed more than 30,000 wind turbines in more than 50 countries, and has 35% of the world wind energy market. It has new plants in China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Scotland, England, Spain, Sweden, Norway, India and Australia.  

Vestas’ efforts in Australia are instructive. Although Vestas windfarms have sprung up, and the company established an assembly plant at Wynyard (Tasmania), no serious value-adding occurred by way of a blade plant or R&D. There was the prospect of SA and Tasmania combining their purchasing power to spark something, but no one could connect the dots. But now Vestas announced the closure of the Wynyard plant at end 2006, with the loss of 65 jobs. This is a real surprise given that the plant was only commissioned a couple of years previously.

BusinessWeek reported in 2005 that the clincher for Vestas in Singapore was the chance to collaborate with local universities, which would team up with the Singapore EDB covering almost all of Vestas’ research costs. “The EDB offered us almost everything we wanted and more,” says Vestas Asia President Thorbjorn Rasmussen.