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Clusters – a proven form of business collaboration worldwide

Dimitar Filipov
Member of the Advisory Board at the Cluster Sofia Knowledge City

My visit to the 2019 edition of the EU-Taiwan cluster matchmaking event was a surprisingly pleasant experience. I represented Cluster Sofia Knowledge City at this meeting. This was the first participation of CSKC to this event and my first participation as well. The event was organized in the context of the international fair “Global Industrie 4.0” held in Lyon, France.

City of Lyon
A few words about the city. Lyon is one of the biggest cities in France and is currently No1 industrial center for the country. I have never been to this city before and what I saw was a typical French city with nice people, large boulevards, lot of green areas, cosy suburbs and the notorious smell of coffee and freshly baked croissants everywhere around.

This is an extremely vivid city with lots of young people and boiling social life. One can observe lots of building construction sites, both public and housing, which indicates that that city is actively growing.
Global Industrie 4.0
The fair itself was one of the biggest I have ever seen.

Thousands and thousands of square meters of exposition space, thousands of companies exposing their production, all of the well-known market players like FANUC, KUKA, Siemens, Schneider, Bosch, ABB, as well as many small local companies, all offering different smart solutions for the industry. The atmosphere was exactly as it should be – business alike, with lots of smartly dressed people, intensive negotiations around exposition stalls and sophisticated robots, demonstrating the complex, mysterious tasks.
Industry Revolution #1 – Industry Revolution #4
Perhaps it is worth opening a bracket here about the name of the exposition. Industrie 4.0 (the French version of Industry 4.0) stands for the last type of industrial development, which, according to many, would bring about the next industrial revolution. According to this framework, Industry 1.0 begins in the end of the 19th century, with the invention of the steam engine. Industry 2.0 comes with the introduction of the mass production in the beginning of 20th century and the era of Industry 3.0 begins with the application of computers and ICT in the production process. Today we enter in the time of Industry 4.0, which will bring about value by the introduction of the use of robotics, big data, AI and continuous innovations in the production process. Obviously, CSKC as a cluster dominantly based on knowledge, smart technologies, and innovations, is extremely interested in this event, so I was looking around with eyes wide open.
EU-Taiwan matchmaking event
The event itself was a pure treasure in the form of obtained information and professional networking. Taiwan is an economically highly developed country, with 98% of SMEs forming this economy. The country is a well known high-tech hub, the base of many OEMs. For instance, 80% of all laptop motherboards worldwide are produced there.
What is more interesting, however, is the fact that there is an extremely well-developed symbiosis between the state, industry, and science. In the core of that symbiosis lays the effective clustering system, with some of the clusters dating more than 40 years. Clusters provide effective intermediary services between business and academia and this ecosystem is heavily supported by the state.
I had two official meetings there with cluster representatives, one with a huge scientific cluster organization and one with a smart machinery production cluster. Perhaps the most important outcome of these meetings was the obtained information on the Taiwanese business models of cluster organization. Of course, we discussed different possibilities of further collaborations and as a result, we could expect a closure of MoU with both clusters. Taiwanese are very entrepreneurial people and they are eager to enter the EU market on the high-tech and smart technologies fields. My impressions were that Taiwanese companies mainly look for a partnership with EU companies. I believe this leaves room for a whole bunch of new relationships between Bulgarian high-tech companies and the Taiwanese ones. Relationships with enormous potential, which our cluster could facilitate.
Conclusion
To conclude – this trip was one of the most enriching business trips I have ever had. Taiwan is one of the most valuable business partners and I hope Bulgarian business would profit from that fact.

 


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