Logistic clusters in the STRING region

The Green STRING Corridor project has turned its focus on logistic clusters in the STRING geography. Are there logistic clusters in all three countries in the STRING region? How can we identify them? What kind of clusters are they? And is there a potential for a cross border cluster initiative? And not least - are they "green"?





These and many more questions were discussed by prominent participants in the Green STRING Corridor Dialogue Forum "Transport and Logicstic Cluster" in September and November. Some of the organisations present were: Logistics Initiative Schleswig-Holsten, Logistics Initiative Hamburg, Copenhagen Capacity, Invest in Skåne, the Danish Ministry og Business & Growth, Roskilde University, Lund University, Region Zealand, Capital Region of Denmark and Region Scania.


Clusters do not equal geography
The Dialogue Forum reached some very tentative conclusions that can help refine working definitions later on. In general there was agreement that new cluster co operations will have a stronger network approach in the future which means that a narrow geographical demarcation of a cluster is less relevant. This is at least the experience of the Swedish and Danish participants.
But with a more grass root, or bottom-up approach the opinion is that the Öresund region just might need a stronger political support for going 'green'; hence a political vision is needed. This means influencing politicians to recognise the importance of these issues. 



Top-down approach in Germany
The Hamburg Senat is highly interested in logistics and provides a strong support for the logistics sector. They are also a driver for the development of the cluster operation in the region and provide half of the financial funding of this cluster. The situation is quite the opposite in Sweden as the government maintains the position as a facilitator for the cooperation. The actual drivers are actors in the sector and business associations. This forces the work of the cluster organisations to keep on their toes to constantly be relevant for their members.



Invest in Scania on the verge of new organisation
Tony Spodnjak, Business Development Manager for Invest in Skåne took time to tell us about a new logistics "platform" initiative on behalf of the Department of Economic Development and Innovation at
Region Skåne. He stresses the use of the terms platform or organisation. For Invest in Scania avoiding the term "cluster" - for now - is very deliberate.


"Very shortly my project is about creating a communication platform where public meets university, meets the industry for what we call logistics. We don't want to specify too much, because the questions that are going to be discussed will be created by the industry itself. So regardless if   you are any other kind of industry, but you are logistically intense you are still invited to this platform."


But of course there is no way around avoiding the label "cluster":
"In other words we are creating a cluster. But we are trying not to say cluster as of now because it is a fashion word and many people do not know for certain what a cluster is. In time we are going to have a contest for what to call this organisation. The idea is to engage the participants - even at the level of the name of our platform."


Tony Spodnjak explains that even though Scania has many harbour terminals, six harbours in total, freight forwarders and logistically heavy businesses in general, as of now there is no logistics cluster. With the proposed platform 30 businesses and all three universities in Scania focusing on logistics (Lund University, Campus Helsingborg and Malmö Högskola) will be represented in the project.
Intreregional Cluster in the future


The idea of an interregional logistics cluster spanning the meta-region of Hamburg-Copenhagen-Malmö sounds enticing but also quite futuristic. Spondjak is very aware of starting out locally.


"My first objective is to make this region's logistics as efficient as possible. We can never compete with the other regions with larger harbours so we have to find our own niche. When that is established, sure, we can start discussions on how to cooperate with our neighbouring regions. And the joint Copenhagen-Malmö Port is one of the initiators of this project. So already the Öresund region is in our awareness".


The Green STRING project is planning to host a seminar in spring 2014 where the aim is to gather more knowledge on the various cluster initiatives within the Öresund region and discuss possible synergies for cooperation activities.


More information on date and venue can be obtained from Sandrina Lohse, Work Package Leader



What is a cluster?
Copenhagen Capacity defines a cluster as:


A concentration of businesses and related players inside a defined field who both mutually cooperate and compete, thus establishing a foundation for gained productivity and innovation for established businesses and thus contributing to the set up of new businesses.
(Klyngehåndbog, Copenhagen Capacity & SPI - Samarbejde om Proaktiv Investeringsfremme).



By Anine Asklund and Sandrina Lohse