TCI Members
24 February 2016

The German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations is a joint organisation of the leading associations representing German business. One of its projects is a partnership with Belarus, which also focuses on cluster based economic development. In this article, Jelena Granovskaja, Project Manager, summarises the main activities and results of the work carried out so far.

 

Supported by the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, discussions are underway in Belarus on the cluster approach as an innovation driver. After initial difficulties a number of concrete measures have been initiated in the meantime.

 

In the Belarusian state innovation program for 2011-2015, it is planned to create seven clusters, including a chemical cluster in Grodno, a petrochemical cluster in Nowopolozk, a cluster of automobile and tractor construction in Minsk and an IT cluster in Minsk.

 

Round table on "Cluster development of the economy: Foreign experiences and possibilities of its application in Belarus", Minsk. Picture by Pavel Berasneu

 

The responsibility for the organization of the clusters has been transferred to the territorial (Regional Executive Committees) and industry-specific administrative bodies (ministries, corporations). However, an analysis conducted by the Ministry of Economy showed a fundamental lack of interested by central administrative bodies and the industry groups in the design of innovative industry clusters. In addition to this lack of interest, other factors, especially the Belarusian economic structure that contradicts the creation of horizontally integrated structures, have to date prevented the establishment of clusters.

 

The idea of clustering, which is currently so popular that some economist talk about a "cluster epidemic", has not been forgotten, and a working group was formed that aims to promote the establishment of clusters in Belarus. In October 2014, the German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations invited the cluster expert Wolfgang Dürig from the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) in Essen to a round table in Minsk. Dürig lectured there on the cluster approach as a tool for regional economic development and answered numerous questions of participating representatives from politics, business and science.

 

Following this event, number of other measures were taken:

  • A study trip to Germany in December 2014 began with a roundtable at the RWI in Essen and ended with a conversation at the Federal Ministry for Education and Research in Berlin. In between were visits to the NRW Cluster secretariat Dusseldorf, the Automotive Cluster in the Metropolitan Region Hannover, and the it's OWL Cluster Management Paderborn, among others.
  • The results of the trip were summarized by participants in several lectures and articles.
  • In  2015 followed three publications in Russian: "Guide to the establishment and management of clusters in Belarus", "Clusters and cluster policy" and finally "Cluster Policy in Germany", the latter written by Wolfgang Dürig and Michael Rothgang from RWI.
  • In 2015 and 2016, three position papers were presented to the Belarusian government.
  • Finally, on 28 January 2016, a round table on "Cluster development of the economy: Foreign experiences and possibilities of its application in Belarus" took place in Minsk, attended by Matthias Künzel from the Institute for Innovation and Technology in Berlin, Evgeniy Kutsenko,  head of the Russian Cluster Observatory and Andrej Spilenko, director of the Association of Clusters and Technology Parks from Moscow.