The SectorStimTM Assessment Process is typically employed to help our clients identify and describe cluster assets and stakeholders, survey participants to help determine their needs and attitude towards a cluster initiative, or to identify strengths and weaknesses of the current cluster system, technology and industry focus, etc.
The assessment is typically a four-step process, each step building on input gained from the prior, and providing the necessary inputs and metrics for developing a clear understanding of the existing (or potential) cluster's strengths and challenges, while exposing opportunities to stimulate cluster growth.
Based on the intended project goals, an assignment might entail the use of one to several assessment steps, or the process in its entirety, depending on the desired deliverables. Highly structured, but yet flexible, the process is designed to adopt to the wide range of needs and situations clusters and regions are facing.
The steps in the SectorStimTM Assessment Process can be summarized as follows:
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Cluster mapping is a critical step in the assessment and development process of a cluster. The mapping allows for the identification of possible cluster members, cluster champions, technology gravitations, innovation infra-structure, etc.
Cluster mapping can be as detailed as the client wishes, and can include organizations’ size, age, technology focus, core competencies, services or products offered, export markets, partnerships, etc.
In addition to being a valuable tool in the cluster development process, the outcome of cluster mapping will also play an important role in the marketing and description of the cluster (the clusters asset base). Outcome of the mapping can be in a wide range of analytical tools, including GIS mapping.
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In short, the objective of the assessment survey is to engage a selection of the key stakeholders in a potential/existing cluster to get first hand feedback on what industry and company issues, needs and challenges are important for further development of a cluster initiative.
The survey will typically probe issues that are important to a cluster development effort, for instance industry collaboration, innovation and commercialization assets, funding issues, information sharing, stakeholder relationships, etc.
The findings and input from the survey process will be an important tool and foundation for further cluster development efforts.
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3. GAP Analysis / Best of Breed
No cluster or industry development effort can be done in a vacuum. During the step of the process, we focus in on those challenges and issues identified during the Mapping and Survey step to better understand how the cluster can be positioned regionally, nationally and internationally. Most clusters are facing the same organizational, growth and strategic challenges. During this step, we can also provide clients with a best of breed comparison, to see how other successful clusters have approached and overcome similar challenges, and to present the client with success factors gleaned from other clusters.
Also, findings and case studies from other successful clusters will often be an important tool for energizing local stakeholders, and gaining support and funding for a cluster initiative .
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The last step of the assessment is typically a final summary, including a (prioritized) list of the cluster's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The summary provides a valuable overview on the "who, what, where and hows" to further improve or develop a cluster initiative.