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CADIC Scottish Transfer SME Cluster
Focus: Creative industries

The Cluster Catalyst
CADIC transfer partner Sitekit Solutions Ltd (http://www.sitekit.net/) is a leading provider of web content management tools and the largest provider for the NHS in England. The company researches, develops, builds, markets and hosts support products that help customers build sophisticated web sites quickly and consequently operate the sites using non-technical staff. In 2008, its sister company Sitekit Labs was launched, the centre of a network of excellence for research and innovation in Web Science with a focus on application in E-health and Telemedicine. A second satellite company, Sitekit Health, was founded in 2010 to focus on the general needs of the healthcare industry.
Sitekit’s head office is based on the remote Scottish iIsland of Skye hundreds of miles from their predominantly English client base. Successfully managing remote relationships and cooperating with a variety of diverse organisations are pivotal to Sitekit’s business. To this end, the company has been involved with cluster activity in many ways in the past including: “bottom-up” initiatives, for example through Sitekit Labs joint R&D relationships with MIT Media Labs, Stirling University and HP Labs India; and “top-down” initiatives such as P4 Digital Healthcare (www.p4digitalhealthcare.com), a public sector initiative on the development and delivery of healthcare via distance technologies bringing together a cluster of both SMEs and public sector bodies. Sitekit uses its Scottish heritage and the ruggedness surrounding their head office to their advantage, presenting itself as a down-to-earth, practical, personal business…in a location of unsurpassed beauty.

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Examples of Sitekit’s personal style of cluster development during the Sitekit Partners Conference


The Impetus
In September 2010, the Government of England and Wales produced a white paper that threatened to radically change and possibly completely dismantle the majority of Sitekit’s client base of NHS Primary Care Trusts and replace them with newly formed Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). Over the coming years, frontline medical staff will be given more control, removing bureaucracy and unnecessary administration. “Healthcare will be run from the bottom up, with ownership and decision-making in the hands of professionals and patients.” A similar philosophy to CADIC!

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The Restructuring of the NHS has been in the headlines in the UK since its announcement in September 2010.

The difficulty with the NHS restructuring for supplier SMEs is that if the businesses are unable to engage with these newly formed CCGs within a tight time window, they will fail. Sitekit and other cluster members have acknowledged that they have more of a chance of succeeding in surviving the transition if they work together with each other and the broader digital services supplier community.
SME Cluster Members are digital industry companies that provide tools and services to the healthcare sector, specifically in the area of NHS commissioning in England and Wales. Currently, five SMEs are working toward the strategic goals below with 3 of the businesses currently working closely on a large joint R&D project in the area. Around this core is a much larger informal cluster of organisations. A goal of the cluster is to formalise and take full advantage of these relationships (See below).
Strategic Goal for the Cluster

    Achieved Through
    Knowledge Flow

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    http://www.commissioningcommunity.co.uk/

    The Commissioning Community is a web portal devoted to discovering, collating and publishing the best information on NHS commissioning. This site will not only provide health care professionals information about commissioning, but it will encourage the development of an online self-supporting clinical commissioning community as well as a vehicle to promote the cluster’s products and services.
    Investigating Online Collaborative Tools
    Because of the significant geographical distance between cluster members, the SMEs have trialled a number of online collaborative tools to assist in conducting virtual meetings, document management and cluster management/governance. No mainstream applications have been identified as being “perfect” for the cluster’s needs.
    In addition to using a variety of commercial and in-house bespoke applications, members of the cluster will be testing CADIC framework online tools in the coming months.
    Meeting Up Whenever Possible

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    Even though virtual meetings are the “norm” in the cluster, there is recognition that nothing can replace face-to-face meetings. Therefore, face-to-face meetings are organised whenever considered practical. Agendas and minutes/actions are distributed for each meeting to loosely guide each meeting ensure that everyone is on the same page and actions aren’t forgotten. However, the meetings are informal and are allowed to go “off-script” if the group feels that the diversion will be productive.
    Aspects of CADIC’s Cluster Communication Plan have been used unobtrusively during these face-to-face events.
    Establishing a Common Language
    A conscious effort has been made to work towards a common “language” within the cluster. Everyone in a cluster needs to be able to communicate effectively for the cluster to succeed. This begins with speaking the same language.
    Creating a Tiered System of Collaboration
    Sitekit’s commissioning-related cluster is a group of organisations that interact on many different levels. This ranges from large numbers signing up to the Commissioning Community website to small groups of SMEs working closely together on large R&D projects…from informal “gentlemen’s agreements” to extensive collaboration agreements with detailed, constantly updated IP logs. The governance of each level of clustering and the agreements between members of the clusters need to be consistent, transparent and in proportion with the needs of the cluster members.
    In addition to using tested collaboration models and agreements, members of the cluster will be testing CADIC framework online tools in the coming months.
    Embracing “Co-opetition”
    In times of such upheaval of the NHS, organisations can either choose “every man for themselves” or “we’re all in this together”. Sitekit’s cluster has chosen the latter philosophy, appreciating the advantage of working together towards their common goals. The size of the organisations involved allow them a level of flexibility and speed to respond effectively to the needs of their market not possible with larger organisations. However, the scale of the problems their market face need a coordinated response from multiple SMEs. Core cluster members have been chosen for their complementary strategies, products and services, but the plans for the extended cluster require involvement of organisations that could often be in direct competition. Encouraging exchange of knowledge and collaboration continues to be a cornerstone of the cluster.
    The CADIC IC “Quick Check” has been trialled on members of the Sitekit cluster and results will be fed into benchmarking for the tool.
    Summary of Cluster’s Status

    The Sitekit clusters were officially initiated with a combined Cluster Initiation and Cluster Evaluation Meeting of the Cluster Facilitation Team on 13 June, 2011. However, assistance and observation of the Sitekit cluster(s) has been conducted on an informal basis by the Country Coach for the last year.
    Two clusters have been identified:

      Requirements for support from CADIC
      requirements

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