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Evgeny Kutsenko: “Cluster policy needs rebooting”

“Russian Cluster Week” federal economic forum took place in Moscow on May 28–29, 2015. The HSE Russian Cluster Observatory (RCO), the staff of which presented several research areas and the results of a number of HSE projects on regional and cluster policy, acted as the forum’s intellectual partner.

“Russian Cluster Week” federal economic forum took place in Moscow on May 28–29, 2015. The HSE Russian Cluster Observatory (RCO), the staff of which presented several research areas and the results of a number of HSE projects on regional and cluster policy, acted as the forum’s intellectual partner. 

Participants of the panel session “Cluster Development Strategy” moderated by Evgeny Kutsenko, head of the RCO and of the Cluster Policy division of the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK), discussed the good experience of several successful clusters in the Moscow Region and Saint Petersburg.

Speaking about key factors affecting development of clusters, the expert noted that cluster strategies must be in line with global technology development trends and with emerging markets. Foresight tools, in particular roadmaps, should be used to achieve that. Konstantin Vishnevskiy, head of the ISSEK Department for Private-Public Partnership in Innovation Sector, spoke about application of these tools in Russia and abroad.

Human capital and skills management are the cornerstones of cluster development strategy. Therefore such practices as mentoring, benchmarking, analysis of positive experience, study tours and staff exchanges become particularly important. New trends in this area were presented by Julia Artamonova, managing partner of Cluster Consulting Group.

Cluster policy has certain weaknesses: e.g. clusters may not match the particularly important R&D development areas in the region; cluster approach is not yet fully applicable to emerging industries still invisible to statistics; in certain cases, regional players are only selectively involved in priority setting and provision of support; some of the clusters have territorial and industrial limitations. “To match the current innovation agenda, cluster policy needs rebooting”, Evgeny Kutsenko noted, speaking at the plenary session “Cluster Standard: Monitoring and Measuring Operations Efficiency”. According to the expert, cluster policy should be amended in line with the “smart specialisation” principle, which, among other things, implies finding unique niches and carefully positioning clusters, speeding up structural changes in the regional economy, creating an innovation ecosystem, promoting development of science and education, and encouraging demand for innovative products. Evgeny Kutsenko noted that inter-regional strategies and “cluster junction” priorities were particularly relevant now, but only regions which have already developed cluster networks and have practical experience of inter-cluster cooperation should try to implement such advanced innovation strategies.

To provide a full, comprehensive picture of cluster development in Russia – which is essential for improving relevant government policy – the Higher School of Economics has launched the Cluster Map of Russia project. It was presented by Evgeny Kutsenko and Vasily Abashkin, senior research fellow at ISSEK. Currently it’s the only interactive platform providing basic structured information about the country’s clusters and cluster initiatives. Clusters will be able to bring their organisational development up to a higher level if they can place themselves against other clusters and best international practices.

HSE experts are studying internationalisation of Russian pilot innovative territorial clusters. The results of the study were presented by the RCO expert Ekaterina Islankina. Pilot clusters’ international activities are mostly accounted for by large companies, research institutes and universities; the potential of small and medium enterprises and managing companies is not fully implemented. Priority areas include R&D cooperation, development of human capital, and various communications – which is supported by objectives specified in cluster development strategies (access to new technologies, territorial development), and by government agencies responsible for coordination (distributing information about clusters, organising international events, or participating in them). Clusters’ partners’ country distribution on the whole reflects the geography of Russia’s international economic links. Clusters are open to active internationalisation, which is evidenced by minimal importance of such barriers as rivalry, distance, language and cultural differences. Serious barriers include lack of funding and lack of skilled personnel. In most cases, there’s no special planning of international activities, as well as no integrated approach to cluster-wide coordination of external links. Information about clusters is mostly available at Russian information resources. The study revealed significant clusters’ demand for international cooperation, and allowed to identify problems in this field – mostly connected with lack of strategic vision of the cluster in international context, and inadequate targeted positioning in the global environment.

Composed by Ekaterina Islankina