Cluster experts recently gathered in Belfast to take part in the Clusters3 Peer to Peer Review of Northern Ireland’s cluster interventions, with the aim of identifying best practice and making a series of recommendations as to how the region can better exploit cluster policy in support of Smart Specialisation strategies.
International reviewers Emily Wise of Lund University in Sweden and Vincent Dugré of Prologic in Montreal, Canada, both experienced cluster practitioners and strategists, were joined for the two day event by project partner Ghillean McLeod of Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Amongst the stakeholders taking part in the Review were representatives of the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy; senior Invest NI officials; cluster facilitators; local businesses and academic representatives – all of whom participated in a wide ranging debate on subjects such as how to prioritise and internationalise clusters and the most effective approaches to cluster funding, sustainability and cross-sector working.
The group even found time to take in a walking tour of Belfast City Centre, providing an opportunity to find out more about the region’s longstanding commitment to innovation and collaboration, from the world class shipbuilding and linen mills of the 19th century to the leading edge cyber-security and advanced manufacturing companies of the 21st century.
Reflecting on the event Invest NI’s Linda Jamison said, ‘Peer to Peer Review is a well-established method way of identifying good practice, challenging assumptions and highlighting areas for improvement. We’re delighted to have hosted three international colleagues with particular expertise in clusters and collaboration and to have the opportunity to draw on that experience to inform the future development of clusters in Northern Ireland. We know from our own work how important collaboration and innovation are as drivers of economic competitiveness and the Interreg Clusters3 project is giving us the chance to engage in vital knowledge transfer with our project partners’.