Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography Research Research projects
Regional Biotechnology – Establishing a Methodology and Performance Indicators for Assessing Bioclusters and Bioregions Relevant to the Knowledge-based Bio-economy (KBBE) Area

Regional Biotechnology – Establishing a Methodology and Performance Indicators for Assessing Bioclusters and Bioregions Relevant to the Knowledge-based Bio-economy (KBBE) Area

Led by:  PricewaterhouseCoopers (Luxembourg)
Team:  Prof. Dr. Rolf Sternberg
Year:  2011
Funding:  European Commission, DG Research
Duration:  2009 - 2011
Is Finished:  yes

Clusters assessment and development are a key component of the Lisbon strategy to support knowledge development, innovation and economic growth. Governmental, regional and local bodies have invested a lot of resources over the last 20 years to support the development of clusters. Life Sciences like the international economy are on the path of globalisation. However, the plethora of European local clusters, their limited size and fragmentation and their restrictive national linkages constitute a clear disadvantage for the European Economy. There is a need for competitive world class with transnational cooperation to create new knowledge to meet the current and future societal and economical needs.

The aim of the study is to identify, describe and formulate into a policy the conditions of successful regional clusters in the context of global economy and science.

The Regional Biotechnology study aims for a practical, solution driven approach supported by relevant data sets. All proposed steps are specifically focused on, and directly contributing to, a final set of practical recommendations and a feasible methodology for cluster impact analysis.  

Theoretical part
Within the theoretical part, the study will focus on cluster concepts and definitions that are neutral, inter-operable between different cluster activities and SMART. This will prevent excellent theoretical descriptions that nevertheless are not fully operational, e.g. by excluding large successful clusters or clusters with non-health activities. Similarly, the study will build upon existing renowned studies with practical and useful outcomes in both the theoretical and methodology part. On the other side, theoretical models will be adjusted based on the observations and analysis performed in the project to reflect phenomena of the non-classical clusters, such as agro-food, marine, environmental, bioprocessing, and biomanufacturing etc.

Methodology part
Model biocluster selection lies at the very basis of the project success. Therefore, the study uses a rational strategy for biocluster selection to on the one hand maximise the number of different types of bioclusters included in both the model and test set, and on the other hand to structure the sets in such a way that proper performance indicator validation can be ensured. The precise selection of the biocluster selection will take place during the first months of the project.

Similarly, neutral and efficient data collection will be crucial in this project. In the methodology section, special attention will also be given on the review of previously defined, as well as identification and validation of novel input performance indicators. This will be especially relevant for acquiring an instrument for the EC to measure the existence of necessary conditions for setting up a biocluster, to access it development, and to determine its output performance through these indicators. Especially the latter are largely lacking and present a particular challenge.

We aim at visualising these indicators as much as possible. That means that for most performance indicators it will be possible to insert data in network graphs, thus visualising a particular cluster as one would visualise in Social Network Analysis. Moreover, for some key performance indicators we will be able to show developments over time in a network graph. We will do that in a way that is easily reproducible by the European Commission. 

Policy-Oriented part
Finally, the study will aim for a consistent methodology in both the methodology and policy section. Data collection to identify and validate performance indicators will be performed via generally proven, efficient and feasible methodologies. After the methodology phase, these data collection methods will have been tested thoroughly in practise within the field of bioclusters and thereby proven themselves in the specific area of performance indicator retrieval.

Thus, in the policy phase, the study will present both validated performance indicators and specific, proven, and efficient methodologies to collect the required data to test them. This will be done in a way that is understandable for non-academics. The very same methodology can then be applied by the EC for cluster impact analysis. In addition, performance indicators will not only be ranked on their relevance towards cluster impact, but also on their feasibility in terms of duration and effort needed to collect the required data to measure them. Combined, this will provide the EC with a practical instrument to analyse cluster impact with validated performance indicators in a standardised, proven and efficient manner.

General outline of the project, and the approach and means used by Regional Biotechnology to provide the EC with practical recommendations and a standardized, proven and efficient instrument for the EC to measure biocluster impact. 

Presentations to Scientific Audiences:

Sternberg, R. (2010): Regional Economic Development Policies: An Overview. Final Workshop on the EU Biocluster Project "Regional Biotechnology: Measuring biocluster performance”. Brussels (Belgium), 10.12.2010.