RDA Brisbane has co-hosted the Australasian Cluster Conference in Sydney to explore ways in which clusters can reinvigorate Australian industry and manufacturing, and help create successful, resilient communities.
The May 30 event, staged by TCI Network Oceania in collaboration with the RDA, featured world-leading cluster practitioners and experts, and showcased the more than 30 industry clusters operating in Australia.
There were over 70 attendees from government, industry, regional development and academia across Australia and New Zealand, including representatives from 10 RDA committees across five states and territories.
RDA Brisbane's SEQ Coordinator Tracy Scott-Rimington was a featured speaker, presenting an innovative new multi-agency joint action plan to boost the advanced manufacturing and services potential of the SEQ region.
TCI Network Director Richard Walker said conference speakers challenged conventional government regional and industry development policy.
"Our conference showed how cluster strategies can create new jobs and investment, and set hard hit traditional industrial regions like Geelong and Northern Adelaide on a high growth, high performance trajectory," he said.
"But putting clusters to work means building smart collaborations between companies, industry leaders and government agencies - something we need to do better in Australia if we are going to develop the industries of the future."
Speaker Ifor Ffocws-Williams, CEO of Cluster Navigators New Zealand, is one of the world's leading cluster experts having advised governments and clusters in over 50 countries, and is also author of the book Cluster Development, building competitiveness through smart specialisation.
Mr Ffocws-Williams said the reason most countries support cluster strategies is because they work and build successful and resilient industries and communities.
"Firms that are based in clusters are more competitive than similar firms located outside the cluster, the firms that may be scattered around the country."
Another speaker Rodin Genoff, Managing Director of Rodin Genoff & Associates, has taken his pioneering cluster work in Northern Adelaide between 2001 and 2006 and is now rolling it out across high cost economies. In Scandinavia these clusters include intelligent engineering, electronics, cleantech, renewable energy and steel.
"From Denmark to Singapore, industry, innovation and technology policy are being informed by design thinking that helps companies to make the connections across industries and find those untapped spaces where they can spin off new products and services and start-ups.
"Smart government programs help these companies to navigate these spaces and cluster together. Countries that are embracing this smart thinking and practice top the innovation rankings," he said.
The conference was opened via a video link with Christian Ketels, President of TCI and Professor at Michael Porter's Institute for Strategy & Competitiveness at Harvard University. Professor Ketels emphasised the importance of location on competition in one's industry and the need to develop industry specialisation profiles of regions.