This week was the 2019 EU Cluster Conference, an annual event held over three days in the Palaces of Parliament, Bucharest.

The event provides a unique chance to discuss recent and future developments in cluster policy in order to support innovative, sustainable industrial modernisation and interregional cooperation to connect different actors among the international cluster community.

Platform’s Chair Peter Rudge was in attendance. Here, he shares a few of his thoughts on the event and the importance of clusters and connecting ecosystems.

Clusters and Ecosystems

I’ve been in Bucharest this week at the EU Cluster Conference. It’s been an interesting couple of days with discussions around the changing nature of clusters, the political, social and economic volatility and the ever-increasing pace of technological and industrial change.

The theme of the conference – connecting ecosystems – is highly relevant but something that many local, regional, and national governments are yet to really engage with.

There has been some recognition of this in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, with an emphasis placed on the value of clusters. However, while supporting clusters and cluster initiatives is important, clusters themselves also need to recognise that their activities can no longer just be holding networking events and running a few workshops.

Clusters need to be orchestrating and leading the development of complete innovation and growth ecosystems.

It’s important however to make a distinction here. Business ecosystems are nothing new, but are usually described in terms of the supply and distribution chains that businesses engage with.

Moving Forward

The ecosystems required over the next 5 to 10 years are more about the education and skills pipeline, targeted R&D collaborations, start-up support, access to finance so that successful start-ups can successfully scale-up and cluster organisations that can be the framework in which all of these elements sit effectively and efficiently.

The pace of technological and industrial change is only going to accelerate and the ability of SME’s in particular to manage that change and effectively allocate resources to it is going to be severely challenged. And that is where clusters can play a crucial role.

By acting as the driver, advocate, and glue that brings together – and holds together – multiple partners, clusters can establish and stabilise those delicate innovation ecosystems that everyone wants to see. In effect, clusters become the structures through which local and regional growth strategies can most effectively be implemented.

That’s not the easiest message to give to local or regional governments and development agencies that traditionally have led this process, but it’s not about clusters supplanting those organisations. It about plugging local and expert clusters into the process, working in partnership to make sure that resources are targeted and used for maximum impact, and recognising that impact in the fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is not really going to be about transport infrastructure and industrial estates. It’s going to be about creative technologies, industrial – not just digital – transformation, and a skills pipeline that is far more inclusive.

That is where clusters really need to be, and it’s why they need to transform into orchestrators of the fragile sector ecosystems that they support.

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“Pursuit of Excellence” Acme TV Advert Directed by Darren Teale, Junction 15 Productions, local creatives.

Junction 15 Productions were approached by Attain Design to produce the very first TV Advert for world renowned Acme Whistle’s, the international leaders in their field.

Producer/Director Darren Teale and Attain’s Head of Marketing, Paul Beard, worked with Acme to develop a concept that would celebrate their companies heritage whilst also telling a story that is engrained in British history. From the beginnings of the Metropolitan Police Whistle in 1870 to John Smith and the Titanic, through 2 World Wars, the 1966 World Cup final and into early 90’s rave culture.

To bring 150 years of Acme history alive, Junction 15 turned to fellow local creatives VFX and Animation Company Carse & Waterman. Junction 15 filmed locally cast actors against green screen at Tunstall based Production House studio as well as practical locations – Gladstone Pottery Museum and a WW1 trench at Apedale Valley Light Railway.

Every shot that appears in the advert has gone through a VFX process. Gladstone Pottery Museum was turned into a smoggy Victorian street at night, the world war scenes had explosions, Spitfire planes and additional pilots added and 3D models of the Titanic and a football stadium were created from scratch.

For the soundtrack, Darren asked Stoke based poet GKA Gay to write and perform what would become the “Pursuit of Excellence” poem that features throughout the advert and evokes a sense of pride and purpose.

Junction 15 are extremely proud to have been able to keep much of the production completely Stoke and Newcastle based, with thanks to Staffordshire University Media Department for use of their recording studio, Blythe Bridge Acting Agent Amanda Andrews and Karl Waye who mixed the sound.

The advert will now run across multiple Sky TV channels for the next 6 weeks and the campaign was designed to run during the lead up to the 100 years anniversary of the end of the First World War.

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