The ICT Cluster initiative
What is the ICT Cluster and how does this help businesses in the region?
Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the regional development agency, uses the description "cluster" rather than "sector" in recognition that businesses are not just grouped around a common economic activity but also use and share local resources with other types of businesses. This means a more inclusive approach in identifying the types of issues which can confront the ICT cluster.
In addition, there are a number of businesses important to the cluster's economic well being which would not otherwise be considered through a sectoral approach to economic regeneration. The contribution of others such as a lawyer specialising in ICT Intellectual Property Rights, may also be considered important to the prosperity of the ICT cluster.
There is also a cultural difference between the two definitions. A sector may be perceived as a group of competing businesses whilst a cluster can be perceived as individually competing businesses that are also willing to collaborate with each other for mutual benefit. In a global market, competition is more likely to come from an overseas competitor than the company around the corner.
Through collaboration, businesses and the public sector can create a more dynamic local economy by ensuring key building blocks are in place. Access to a skilled workforce, quality universities, good locations and investment capital is just one example of how this can be achieved. Individual companies contribute to the clustering effect by their relationship with suppliers and customers and by using their skills in networking and building alliances with other companies.
AWM has grasped this concept as part of its economic strategy and has identified thirteen target sectors for clustering development. One of these target sectors being the West Midlands ICT industry. Each cluster is led by a Cluster Opportunity Group (COG) the membership of which is primarily drawn from the private sector.
In order to facilitate the ICT Cluster AWM have provided the COG with resources to fund projects which will meet the needs of industry and encourage the development of clustering activity.
The ICT Cluster has now updated its strategic plan for the period 2008-11 which identify the actions the Cluster believes are necessary to build a stronger regional ICT industry. For further information on the ICT Cluster's strategy and data intelligence gathered as part of profiling the region's ICT businesses please visit the library. For information on the various resources available please visit our Business Support section on the website.
COG Membership and Structure
Engaging with the Cluster Opportunities Group (COG)
ICT Executive Delivery Team (EDT)