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CADIC French SME Pilot Cluster
ATLANPOLE

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As the Technopole for the “Nantes Atlantique” economic basin and a lead/joint facilitator for several competitiveness clusters, Atlanpole organizes and coordinates an innovation ecosystem networking around the Pays de la Loire region.
Since its foundation in 1987,
Atlanpole has contributed to and fueled the "Nantes Atlantique" strong entrepreneurial spirit: helping spark innovative businesses, bringing entrepreneurs and researchers together with hospitals, universities, ministries, banks and other sources, aiding them all to pool their talents and plot common projects. Atlanpole spreads out through 4 axes of excellence: Atlanpole Biotherapies Cluster, Atlanpole Blue Custer, Atlanpole Digital Innovation and Atlanpole Advanced Technologies.
Enhancing
the dynamics and the synergies between business and research so that innovative projects could emerge and flourish in the region has been a major drive and challenge. But Atlanpole has never stood alone. It counts with the support of several partners such as local authorities, chambers of commerce and the University of Nantes, building together a strong partnership. The constitution of such a unified network was possible thanks to networking and incubation which play a pre-eminent role in the strategy of technopoles.
In 2012, the Atlanpolitan Network consisted of more than
370 companies in fields as diverse as IT, electronics, health, biotech, food processing, fluid mechanics, materials and the environment, among others; 68 research and higher education organisations; 21 innovation support structures and technical centres; and 7 competitiveness clusters.
Behind these numbers lie a
multidisciplinary team of experienced professionals, an ability to pull in external funding and a network of appropriate skills, all which enable Atlanpole to provide operational and customized support to the Pays de la Loire region’s various clusters. Promoting networking and dialogue between budding entrepreneurs, company managers, consultants, financiers, researchers, teachers and students… is part of its DNA. The key word is “connect”, locally and globally. Also in this field Atlanpole is distinct, actively searching for new ideas, partners… regularly visiting laboratories to meet researchers, unearthing new patents, discoveries or technologies to build a business on.
Atlanpole boasts a European Business Innovation Centre and is accredited as a University related business Incubator by the French Ministry of Research. As a member of the French National Innovation Network (Retis), the European Business & Innovation Center Network (EBN) and the international Association of Science Parks (IASP), Atlanpole has been awarded ISO 9001 v2000 for each of its 3 core activities:

  • Business support and running a skills network
  • Project engineering for innovative individual or collaborative activities
  • Territorial and inward investment marketing.
Participation in CADIC
High quality business environment; ensuring competitiveness in a global market (internationalization); offering up-to-date, customized and high-quality services; access to technologies and facilities at reduced costs and reduced risk to growing and emerging companies; local and global connectivity, dialogue and networking for stimulating new ideas and cross-fertilised learning.
These are commonly cited KSF of competitive clusters, networks and technopoles and, to some extent, were all present in Atlanpole, a mature cluster with an impressive number of accomplishments on its back. On the other hand, CADIC professed a strictly bottom-up approach to SME clusters’ building and strategizing, which means that the starting point for any cluster activity is primarily the companies’ interests and goals in the cluster arrangement, whereas Atlanpole had a robust governance system with a very active regional upgrading policy. In this assumption, to find out where in Atlanpole’s strategy and how CADIC could make a difference seemed the natural and critical point from where to start working.

“So, what is there in CADIC for Atlanpole?”

To be able to answer this question and build on this strand we – the CADIC facilitating team (CFT) – needed, first, to uncover a common ground of mutual enhancement, a space for collaboration. That common ground was the SME. This is where all clusters’ strategies seem to converge, no matter the governance system. The robustness, competitiveness and innovativeness of the network/cluster/technopole stands fundamentally on the robustness, competitiveness and innovativeness of its SMEs, and these ling on their ability to exploit synergies and market opportunities, communicate and build relationships and value networks …and, ultimately, strengthen their IC by means of enhancing knowledge flows for mutual collaborative advantage. This was a central point of convergence and one where CADIC could really make a quality contribution to.
The following steps brief the roadmap of CADIC implementation in Atlanpole.

Cluster Facilitator Team:
EBN-UPC

Timeframe of implementation:
Jan.-Apr. 2013
This period accounts only for the implementation on the ground, during which the Atlanpole team, EBN’s and UPC’s had worked actively together.

Main activities and milestones:

Overall, three joint meetings took place between the CFT and the Atlanpole team during this timeframe. The main concern and the objective in mind had always been to agree on an implementation strategy that would bring the highest benefit to the Atlanpole SMEs and CADIC to fruition. Activities were designed around the following axes:

  • Agree on the best implementation strategy –i.e. the one that would contribute the most to the companies’ innovation capacity, competitiveness and learning experience, by opening them to new IC-driven pathways. Three options were discussed, of which “Option A” was finally implemented (see Options A, B and C in point I, below)  
  • below."(CFT-Atlanpole team meeting; Jan.10-11, Atlanpole)
  • Ensure the success of the workshop to be held on March 15. This encompassed the support of the Atlanpole companies in the completion of the IC-Quicks and their initiation into the analytics of the ICBS. (CADIC Workshop “Mapping Intellectual Capital for Business Success”; Mar.15, Atlanpole)
  • Explore the possibility of a second-stage implementation, mainly by involving other companies/clusters and/or by adapting the methodology to include a follow-up stage or test other CADIC tools (e.g. a cluster communication plan for the cluster; an ICBS with a Reference Group). In fact, the implementation of the initially discarded Options B and C could be this follow-up. An in depth analysis of the findings from the IC-Quicks – from both a company and a cluster perspective– enabled this path. (CFT-Atlanpole team meeting, Apr. 10, Atlanpole)
Achievements:
  • Introduced Atlanpole and some of its companies into a new strategic dimension (IC grounded), hence setting the basis for IC cross-fertilisation and value networks enhancement. Following Option A, a 4-hour workshop on IC and its contribution to innovation and business competitiveness was held. It involved 8 companies (Biomatlante, In-Cell-Art, Capsulae, Effiskipper, Actyvea, DataForPeople, Expandium, Ypresia) from 3 Atlanpole clusters (Biotherapies, Blue and Digital Innovation). (See the overall business profile of the companies in point II, below)
  • Benchmark-testing of a couple of Atlanpole companies against a Reference Group of KIS European companies. (Note: the document was sent for internal consideration of Atlanpole –the project was already finalized)
Highlights of whole implementation process:
If we have been able to get to this point was thanks to the outstanding group of people from Atlanpole and EBN, always supporting and/or facilitating each and every little step of CADIC implementation; their motivation and commitment with the success of the implementation, their rigour and professionalism and their respect with deadlines are especially noteworthy.

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AtlanpoleOptionB

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