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CADIC Cluster Facilitation

In order to match the SME perspective (demand side) with the Cluster Facilitation Services (offer side) on a case-to-case basis, CADIC introduces the Cluster Facilitation team thats lead the whole cluster evolution process aiming at providing maximum benefit for the cluster and its members by utilising efficient support services.

The Cluster Facilitation Team incorporates the roles of Country Coach, Cluster Facilitator and Cluster Manager. Typically (and in all the pilot implementations in CADIC Core Countries), the Country Coach comes from a CADIC RTD partner, the Cluster Facilitator comes from the CADIC SME-AG interested in developing the Cluster and the Cluster Manager comes from the Catalyst company at the core of the cluster and is also the cluster relation manager for the Catalyst SME. However, this identification of specific personnel with the three specific roles is not immutable: in SME clusters implemented by CADIC transfer partners, the specific personnel to specific roles may be effective in a different way, but the overall function of the Cluster Facilitation Team always comprises these three constituent roles, located as shown in the diagram:

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Cluster Relation Manager (CM): This role is defined at the individual SME level: Every SME participating in CADIC cluster activities has to assign the role “Cluster Relation Manager” to one or more persons representing the SME in CADIC. The CRM focuses on the interface between the company level and the cluster level.

The CM acts upon the SME’s interests engaging in the process of translating individual and company goals into cluster goals and matching interests with potential and new partners (company-to-cluster level). On the other hand, the CM is responsible to incorporate learning and results from the cluster level into the company by filtering and translating results from collaboration activities of the cluster according to the (business) needs, language and culture of the company (cluster-to-company level). In order to maximize benefits for the single company the CRM has to ensure the capacity of the SME to absorb and utilise external knowledge for its own purposes.

As a representative of his or her company, a CM can initiate any kind of cluster activity. The respective company is defined in CADIC as a
Catalyst SME. In this regard, the CM is representing the demand side of the cluster and may ask and negotiate with the Cluster Facilitator any kind of support for a specific activity to be initiated.

Cluster Facilitator (CF): CADIC assigns the role “Cluster Facilitator (CF)” for every cluster in the CADIC network, starting with at least one CF per CADIC core country. Within the CADIC project, the CF in each core country is supported by the Country Coach (CC)(providing liaison on offline and on line services provided by the RTD partners meeting requirements of the cluster) in order to ensure the success of the implementation in each country. This team is called “Cluster Facilitation Team”.

The Cluster Facilitation Team has the key responsibility to ensure that cluster events, activities and processes triggered by the SME members are well designed and executed, thus promoting cooperation and trust in networking among the SMEs in the cluster according to their needs and opportunities. Utilising the CADIC Guideline according to the specific cluster's requirements, the CF coordinates the bundling and implementation of methods, tools and services to meet this specific cluster’s demand, determined bottom-up. The CF then offers a concrete and customized bundle of cluster support services to facilitate the specific cluster activity and negotiates this offer with the cluster.

During the first phase of the CADIC project, the Cluster Facilitation Team roles and responsibilities had to be trained well in order to get everybody acquainted with their specific tasks and responsibilities. To this end CADIC mounted a Cluster Facilitation Training workshop.

Owing to the high importance of the SMEs ability and skills to initiate and run the cluster actively, especially the CMs in the catalyst SMEs need to be involved in the process of cluster initiation and specification closely together with the cluster facilitation team. The best way to train the CMs found to be identified as in-service during the process of initiation of their own cluster.

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