Common Vision on Research and Technology Transfer Infrastructure
AgroTransilvania Cluster is a professional association of 86 members in field of agri-food (including input suppliers, farmer associations, processors, 3 universities, 5 research institutes, 1 commercial bank, 1 television, 2 consulting companies, 3 local/regional authorities, distributors, catalyzing institutions.)
The mission for whom the management team AgroTransilvania Cluster has been mandated by the General Assembly of Shareholders is to become an Integrator Pole of Research, Innovation, Technology Transfer and Sustainable Development of the Transylvanian agribusiness sector (supporting sustainable competitiveness of the agribusiness sector).
On August 2015, based on an effort of Cluster Management Entity of AgroTransilvania Cluster, University of Agricultural Sciences, National Institute for Research and Development of Isotopic and Molecular Technologies INCDTIM Cluj-Napoca and SC Hygia Colsult SRL it was designed and proposed a research project of around 4 mil Euros, through it, AgroTransilvania Cluster intends to create 7 laboratories for research in terms of Safe and Security of food.
There will create 7 labs: Laboratory for the control and safe of milk and dairy products, Laboratory for the control and safe of meat and meat products, Laboratory of instrumental analysis, Laboratory for genomics, Laboratory for determining bio- geographical authenticity and origin, Laboratory for the control and safe of animal feeds, Laboratory for determining the micotoxins / allergens from food and for developing the natural food colorants. The facility will be able to provide services for members of cluster in terms of quality and safe assurance of the agri-food products.
One of the main objectives is to assure the entire facilities required for being a certified organism able to certified European geographical indication products (PDO, PGI). In that direction, together with partners from France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and Romania an Institute of food & Beverages Identity and Origin, in frame of ERASMUS+ Knowledge Alliances Programme.
Clusters International Conference CLUSTERS – INNOVATIVE BUSINESS MODELS, Cluj-Napoca, 4-5 June 2015
One of the directions of development of AgroTransilvania Cluster is to increase its visibility and its level of trust as a valuable partner for business, institutional development, and research and policies and/or strategies makers, so it can play a better role of the in its way to support the development of agri-industrial sector, by increasing the competitiveness of the association itself and its members individually, both on national and international market, based on a common development strategy.
As member of Romanian Cluster Association and based on a collaborative work with other regional clusters, during 4th-5th of June 2015 in Cluj-Napoca City, AgroTransilvania Cluster organised Clusters International Conference Clusters – Innovative Business Models, with the participation of almost 50 international known speakers at a European level and over 300 participants from all over Europe, like makers of cluster policies, public authorities, financial institutions, support associations and European cluster management organizations, universities, research institutes, companies, NGOs and professional associations.
The subjects of conferences covered the most important problems the clusters confront at the moment Financing the business environment & products dedicated to clusters, Financial transfer – business development opportunity, How can the clusters excel?, The role of clusters in implementing European, national and regional policies, Sections devoted to agribusiness, furniture, IT and lifestyle. To fully complete its mission, the conference enclosed brokerage sessions (C2C, C2B and/or B2B) that facilitated individual business meetings among the participants, networking sessions, as well as business opportunities within a well organized environment. Brokerage sessions encouraged the development of sectoral collaboration and/or cross-sectoral collaboration between clusters.
AgroTransilvania Cluster chaired the session “Added Value in Agribusiness”, together with Mr. Carlos Lopes de Sousa (President of Agrocluster Ribatejo, Portugal) and Mr. Enric Pedros (Cluster Manager of FEMAC, Spain – certified Gold by Cluster Management Excellence). The topics of discussion were connected to the current state of cluster policy in agri-food, with a focused approach on members’ interests, all for a higher degree of relevance and pragmatism, sharing the experience of more experienced clusters.
For more information you can see the conference’s website: http://www.romaniaclusters.eu
SC Fabrica de Branzeturi Transilvania SRL
AgroTransilvania Cluster managed to re-use the economic and commercial potential of Taga Cave (an unique natural cheese production facility), where it is produced the well-known maturated "Cheese Nasal" (known as the “Romanian Camembert”).
The facility was not used for a couple of years by its owner and, based on a year and a half period of negotiation; the right to use the facility was attributed to the AgroTransilvania Cluster for a determined period of time. The purpose of this initiative was to economically exploit the unique potential of this facility and to offer to the consumer’s some quality products whose quality can not be matched by any other Romanian cheese, but also to take advantage of the specific expertise of the members of the cluster.
After the right of use the cheese factory from Taga was obtained by AgroTransilvania Cluster, the factory was administered via a separate company named SC Fabrica de Branzeturi Transilvania SRL, having two stakeholders: AgroTransilvania Cluster (52%) and Agricultural Cooperative Somes Aries (48%). Agricultural Cooperative Somes Aries is member of AgroTransilvania Cluster and it was mandated by the General Assembling of Stakeholders of AgroTransilvania to administrate the SC Fabrica de Branzeturi Transilvania SRL as it reunites the producers of the milk that is processed for obtaining the cheese. All products manufactured for the cluster have the label: "AgroTransilvania Cluster".
In such a way, a full agri-food value chain was created: the raw material is supplied by Agricultural Cooperative Somes Aries (member of AgroTransilvania Cluster), the cheese making process is done by SC Fabrica de Branzeturi Transilvania SRL (belonging to AgroTransilvania Cluster) and the commercialisation is done also via SC Transylvania Market SRL (also, a company belonging to AgroTransilvania Cluster), but also via shops of other members of the Cluster (Bonas, CosmFan).
The project “A chance for each farmer”
Any success story starts with a chance. AgroTransilvania Cluster turned the project “A chance for each farmer” into a successful story, involving in the project all the communes from the Cluj County, in order to get an accurate overview regarding the needs, problems, production potential and the marketing details of the agro-industrial sector of the County. Thus, an international study was conducted with the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine from Cluj-Napoca.
The study benefited from the international expertise of the ERASMUS MUNDUS MSc Food Identity and the Scholar Mobility ERASMUS Projects, where 9 international students from Argentina, France, Spain, Mexico, Croatia, Moldova and Romania joined the Romanian students to conduct a qualitative research in this area.
The study consisted in going, concomitantly, through several stages, considered to be extremely important:
- Conducting interviews in every commune, having as target group the executive authorities of the local government and business representatives from the agro-food sector, carried out during the period of September-October 2013;
- Gathering information from the citizens, based on self-administered questionnaires filled by any interested citizen of the Cluj County.
- Consulting the local decision makers. In order to implement successfully the third stage, the county councils were asked to debate the information required by the project on the agenda of the local deliberative forums and, thus, to present the official position to the project team, to be included in the study.
This project represents a successful story as the survey results were used to develop and implement a strategy to cover the needs of the farmers from the Cluj County. The most relevant information gathered from every commune refers to the agro-food sector, targeting mainly: the currently unused agricultural and food resources from the commune; the vision of the local authorities regarding a proper development strategy for the commune; the priority areas that the local authorities would like to develop if all the necessary resources were available to them and, not least, the projects that the local authorities intend to implement, indicating the financial resources, the project value and implementation period, etc.
The information collected during the project were used to design and implement an unified strategy for the agro-food sector, destined to determine the real needs of the area and to prioritize the investments and the involvement into fundraising projects at the county administration level. Thereby, one of the cluster strategic objectives is fulfilling: to increase the competitiveness of the agro-industrial sector from Transylvania and to increase the qualitative and quantitative representativeness.
Another achievement resulted from the project is the creation of an internal database by the cluster, where only its members have a direct access, which is continuously updated annually or whenever a relevant information appears. Therefore, the further development of the cluster is sustainably related to the situation and the evolution of the available resources, expectations and needs of the subjects concerned.
SC Food Transilvania Market SRL Project
The value chain generated by the cluster is complex and is not limited only to product brokering, but largely integrates locally and regionally the entire agro-business system. The value chain starts from the suppliers for the agricultural and food industry, being both specialized in this field or as suppliers of general inputs and, naturally, ends with local marketing facility units for the products of the cluster members. AgroTransilvnia cluster looked for practical solutions to shorten the marketing chain and increase the rate of local products in the local markets. It happened through the creation of a cluster shop inside the shopping centre Iulius Mall. Thereby, resulted the successful project SC Food Transilvania Market SRL, representing the opening of a store in one of the biggest shopping centres of the Cluj-Napoca city. This could be called a successful story as it contributes significantly to the efficiency of the cluster’s marketing chain, thus increasing its visibility.
The main goal was to conduct an image campaign to promote the AgroTransilvania cluster through the products that meet the following minimum requirements: good traceability system, high quality products, the production is exclusively local and the price is competitive. Then, AgroTransilvania cluster will serve as a guarantee for these requirements in the front of the consumer. One of the medium-term strategies of the cluster is to ensure the cluster brand recognition, that will be followed by the creation of the own quality standards (higher than usual) designed to surpass the customer expectations.
The internal analysis of cluster members revealed certain limits for some of them in fundraising for specific projects, development of common projects and, thus, working in complex teams. That is why, as a measure of improvement, it was decided to involve the cluster members and the executive management, under the cluster’s guidance, in common specific projects, in accordance with every member competencies. This goal meets the aims of the cluster’s strategically objectives to integrate the producers and associative forms to into the value chain and increase the qualitative and quantitative representativeness.
The shortening of the value chain and marketing chain of the cluster and its members represents a defining element for its sustainable development. The success of the first store opened in one of the biggest shopping centres of the Cluj-Napoca city has increased the cluster visibility. This generated the interest of other important shopping centres to collaborate with the cluster. At the moment, advanced negotiations are carried out to open a second store for the cluster members’ products in another shopping centre. Certainly, the financial contribution brought by such commercial activities is not negligible to the cluster and its members.
The project “Practical course - „Learn consulting, do consulting”
Another success story of the cluster represents the project “Practical course – Learn consulting, do consulting” concluded by the Association “Agro-Food-Ind Napoca Cluster” – AgroTransilvania cluster, Babes-Bolyai University from Cluj-Napoca, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine from Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania Bank and S.C. Hygia Consult S.R.L. The partners agreed to work together to organize a package of practical professional development modules: “Learn consulting, do consulting” destined to prepare the students to acquire practical knowledge regarding the consultancy for the preparation and implementation of the EU funded projects. Following this course, it was created the consultancy department within the cluster.
The cluster has provided the space and the necessary infrastructure for the courses; made all necessary support materials to promote the course and will contribute to its further promotion through specific channels. The universities have promoted the course and provided advice during the selection process of the students; they have recognized the course as a practice module and provided logistical support. Transylvania Bank financially supported the production of promotional materials and the support materials necessary to conduct the course. More than that, some of the bank employees acted as lecturers for specific modules. S.C. Hygia Consult S.R.L. assured the coordination of the practical modules for the professional development “Lean consulting, do consulting”, provided a sufficient number of consultants-trainers throughout the entire course to ensure that the students acquire the necessary knowledge specific for consulting activity, according to the plan; assured the electronic support of the course as well as the documentation for related planning.
The framework plan of the course, that lasted for 128 hours, included two main modules: Module 1. General Consultancy (32 hours: Development of the consulting mission, Development of the professional relationships with the client organisation, Use the expertise and knowledge to achieve the objectives of the consultancy mission, Delivering sustainable results within the organisation as a result of the consultancy mission) and Module II. Specialized consultancy (96 hours: Preparation of project design, Documentation to the project, Establishment of partnerships, Project drafting, Setting the requirements for the integrated management of the project, Planning the activities and project benchmarks, Management of costs and operational resources used for project realisation, Management of the project procurement procedures, Risk management, Project team management, Project communication management, Project quality management).
As a result of running the course, the students acquired professional skills and knowledge, social and human, which allowed the selection of four graduates who have been integrated into the cluster consultancy department, under the coordination of the cluster management team. The purpose of the consultancy department is to provide advice and coaching primarily for cluster members, both current issues and planning, as well as specific activities to attract financial resources for investments (grants or loans). Based on the success of this course, its replication is desired to beneficiaries from the economic, social and administrative areas, to act as active liaison elements in order to carry out joint research projects (development).
The internal analysis of cluster members revealed certain limits for some cluster members in fundraising for specific projects, development of common projects and, thus, to work in a complex team. That is why, as a measure of improvement, it was decided to involve the cluster members and executive management, under the cluster guidance, in common specific projects, in accordance with every member competencies. This goal meets the aims of the cluster strategically objectives to support the local and regional development initiatives and encourage research, innovation and technology transfer in the agribusiness sector.
The consultancy department created after the completion of the course conducts its activity, also, through providing specialized services to the economic environment from the agro-food sector, ensuring a sustainable development of the cluster by attracting funds to the current activity. There have already been signed consulting contracts that generated cash flow to the cluster.