From  Ifor Ffowcs-Williams  and Cluster Navigators Ltd. This is an occasional newsletter on the practicalities of cluster development with a worldwide circulation of over 15,000.

1. Cluster Development: The Go-To Handbook
At the TCI conference in Spain, referred to later in this newsletter, I was reminded of the need for a comprehensive handbook on cluster development.  This Go-To Handbook meets the needs of experienced cluster practitioners and newcomers. It is already being used around the world and is acknowledged as the first comprehensive guide to the practicalities of cluster development. Further information is available from

What readers are saying
From Stockholm: “Ifor has worked with cluster groups around the world, gaining insights on what works, and what doesn’t. The book opens the door into his uniquely broad treasure chest of experiences.”  Dr. Christian Ketels, Harvard Business School and President, The Competitiveness Institute.

From Barcelona: “It is different from most of the texts on clusters … a real go-to handbook. The dozens of quotes are very valuable.” Alberto Pezzi, Director of Competitive Strategy Division, ACC1Ó, Directorate General for Industry, Government of Catalonia.

From North Carolina:  “A wonderful job of capturing the essence of clusters andmore importantly–what to do with/for them.” Dr. Stuart Rosenfeld, Regional Technology Strategies Inc., USA.

From Chihuahua: “The reference guide for our current cluster work so detailed and well structured that it actually works as a manual.” Alonso Ramos Vaca, VP, Chihuahua Economic Development, Mexico.

From Newfoundland:  “Used extensively as a virtual benchmark to assess our strategies and activities”. Les O’Reilly, Executive Director, OceansAdvance cluster, St. John’s, Canada

From Cape Town:  “Ifor is, without doubt, the world’s leading cluster artist. This book fills an important gap in the cluster literature invaluable to any practitioner interested in the art of clustering.” Nigel Gwynne-Evans, Director, Department of Economic Development
From the Netherlands:  “A lot of practical tips and tricks within 12 Steps. Examples from all over the world. Not many can do this.”  Frank Eetgerink, Senior Project Manager, East Netherlands Development Agency
2. TCI’s 2012 Global Conference, Spain
A Who’s Who of competitiveness practitioners from around world gathered for The Competitiveness Institute’s conference in Spain’s Basque Country last October. Insights from the conference abstracts follow; more are available on my blog .

On clusters as a principal framework for economic development:
“With its cluster policy, Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Finance & Economy intends to shape the economic and innovative environment in a way that promotes future enterprise competitiveness in world markets.”  Ulrich Winchenbach, MFG Innovation Agency, Stuttgart, Germany.

“Industrial clusters are the key contributors to the country’s socio-economic development.”Rupa Naik, All India Association of Industries, New Delhi

On smart specialisation: ‘
“Highlighting each region’s competitive advantages and rallying regional stakeholders and resources around an excellence-driven vision of their future.” Anke Merki-Rachbauer et al, TMG Upper Austria.

On identifying (and then empowering) business leaders: “Cluster managers need to identify local key business players who can act as ‘innovative business locomotives within the cluster initiatives.” Lars Albæk, Bornholm Bright Green Island, Denmark.

On linking clusters: ‘
“International inter-cluster collaboration offers access to new, complementary knowledge, new collaboration partners and new markets.” Erik Bunis et al, VINNOVA, Sweden.

On designing cluster interventions:
“Cluster programmes need to be designed to support different types of clusters: emergent, national champions, world-class clusters and clusters in transition. And long-term support is required.”  Morten Thomsen et al, Danish Science, Technology & Innovation Agency

“Private sector-led cluster development, especially when supported by private funding, can significantly speed needed action within local governments and academic institutions.” Ted Lyman, HIS Global Insights, San Francisco

On the role of a cluster organisation, summarised very concisely and insightfully: ‘
“Triple Steelix acts as a junction box and a port for projects.” Maria Engholm, Triple Steelix cluster, Sweden

On new business thinking, new acting: ‘
“Creating a sustainable business requires new thinking, but more importantly new acting. It requires both addressing systemic issues and new forms of cooperation and collaboration.” Manuel Escudero, Deusto Business School, Spain
On the value of TCI membership: ’
“TCI members are at the forefront of world’s best practice in competitiveness. To be up with the play, every country needs to have people who are members of the network.” Tony Caughey, TCI 2011 Organising Committee, Auckland, New Zealand

TCI’s sixteenth  global conference will be in Kolding, Denmark, 3-6 September 2013.  See you there?

3. Orange Book release
Following the ground breaking Cluster Green Book, then the Cluster Blue Book followed by the Cluster Red Book, the Cluster Orange Book will shortly be available. It is entitled Organising Clusters for Enhanced Innovation and Financial Performance. Those familiar with the previous publications will note that Prof. Örjan Sölvell is again the lead author, collaborating with Mats Williams to review the impact of twelve Swedish clustering initiatives. T

Triangulated evidence from accounting data, surveys and interviews with cluster members, the authors demonstrate that eleven of the cluster initiatives have generated a range of positive results for involved firms. All four books will be available from .

4. Ifor’s first 2013 global walkabouts
Norway, Sweden and Iceland are on the agenda for March. Let me know if I can be of support on this or subsequent round-the-world trips.

If I can be of assistance to you with cluster training, strategy workshops, reviews, conference presentations, wherever you may need, email
Go well, Ifor Ffowcs-Williams 
Skype: ‘clusterguy’
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