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22 Catalan clusters participating in a Benchmark visit to Singapore organized by the Catalan Government. Towards world-class clusters

Last week, the Catalan clusters have had more than 100 meetings with clusters, companies, Singapore government representatives - such as the Singapore Ministry of Trade and industry, technology centers and economic agencies.

The main goals of this strategic mission, organized by ACCIÓ, are getting inspiration from an advanced ecosystem, fostering their international positioning, establishing strategic partnerships and catalysing intercluster projects between participants.

The Catalonia Government, through ACCIÓ – the Agency or Business Competitiveness - has led a strategic mission with 22 Catalan clusters to Singapore. The mission belongs to the Catalonia Cluster Program lead by ACCIÓ. These 22 clusters represent the highest participation since the first mission organized to Boston (in 2012) that demonstrates their growing involvement in international cluster cooperation.

The aim of the one-week long trip (Monday to Friday) was to train cluster managers in an international context, to improve the clusters’ positioning at international level and to build strategic alliances.

The 22 clusters participating are the following: fashion (MODACC), water (Catalan Water Partnership), beauty (Beauty Cluster Barcelona), automotive (automotive industry cluster of Catalonia), means of agricultural production (FEMAC), railway (Railgrup), furniture (CENFIM), educational technologies (EDUTECH), domotics (DOMOTYS), fine food (Catalonia Gourmet), health technologies (Health Tech Cluster), solar energy (SOLARTYS), nutrition and health (AINS), packaging (Packaging Cluster), digital (Digital Cluster), mental health (Mental Health Cluster), sports (Indescat), home products (Habitat Barcelona Cluster), the foodservice (Cluster Foodservice), kid’s products (KID's Cluster), advanced materials (Clúster MAV) and energy efficiency (CEEC).

During the mission, the clusters had more than 100 meetings with representatives of the Government of Singapore, such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry (in charge of the industry clusters program, with a portfolio of 23), the National Research Foundation – responsible for the program of innovation clusters - or A* Star, the Agency which leads the R&D policy. They have also held meetings with the Economic Development Board, in charge of the attraction of foreign investment, the Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI), a marketplace for technologies. Besides these meetings, there was an executive training organized on how to do business in ASEAN countries, a company visit to Eurofragance, a Catalan firm, member of the Beauty cluster, which presented why Singapore is a good location for international businesses. And last but not least, there was a networking session with the Catalan business community located in Singapore.

Besides the common agenda, each cluster manager had an individual agenda to get to know some of their peers in the ecosystem. For instance, the Fashion Cluster, MODACC met with the organizers of the Singapore Fashion Week; the Catalan Water Partnership visited the PUB Singapore National Water Center, in charge of water policies, such as R&D, startups and distribution; Railgrup met with local transport operators; Edutech cluster held a Cluster meeting with Edtech Asia, the entity that connects the main Asian stakeholders of the educational technology industry; while the Mental Health Cluster visited the Sinapse Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology. Moreover, the Health and Nutrition Cluster and the Packaging Cluster connected with the Food Innovation Research Center - the technological center of reference of this sector – as well as both the meetings between the Solar Cluster and the Solar Research Institute and the meeting between the Barcelona Beauty Cluster with the e-commerce fashion company Lazada are outstanding connections to follow up.

Singapore’s economic strength is shown by different indicators, it ranks 1st in ease for business, 1st in PISA education ranking, 4th in IP protection, it has the second largest port in the world in terms of traffic of containers -  and it is more than just a logistic hotspot, with the industry generating around 20% of its GDP and with business assets in water technologies, electronics, biomedical, food and lifestyle. These are great windows of opportunities for the Catalonia clusters.

Boost to Catalan clusters

This is the sixth strategic mission organized by ACCIÓ through the Catalonia Clusters Program; before Singapore, the Catalan clusters had benchmarking visits in Boston (2012), Israel (2013), Silicon Valley (2014), Quebec (2015) and South Korea (2016).

In The Catalonia Clusters program there are 30 accredited clusters with more than 2100 companies involved and an aggregate turnover of 65,000 Million Euros (25% of Catalan GDP) with more than 290,000 workers. The vision for the future of cluster policy in Catalonia is to have world-class clusters.

Catalonia was a pioneer country in cluster policy, starting in 1992, and next June it will celebrate its 25th anniversary

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