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Call for Clustering to Create Prosperity

May 24, 2005

Two hundred Northern Ireland businesspeople will seize the opportunity to work with government and create collaborative networks and clusters, at the Creating Prosperity Through Collaborative Networks conference in Belfast this Thursday (26th May).

Calling for a co-ordinated clustering strategy, the conference aims to gain consensus within the private and public sectors on the best way forward. Funded by Invest Northern Ireland, the conference is being organised in association with the Economic Development Forum and the NI Cluster Facilitators Forum.

Invest NI believes that collaborative networks and a cluster development strategy will lead to the creation of a stronger, self-reliant economy.

“This is not a new phenomenon,” says Victor Jordan, Director, Business Improvement Services, Invest NI.

“Clustering and networks are proven models of business in which collaboration results in increased competitiveness. We need to explore how such models will help the private sector, in particular SMEs, to become more entrepreneurial, innovative and internationally focussed.  We will be using the conference to clarify a possible way forward and improve our existing support for clustering and collaborative networking.”

Delegates will hear how the need for a collaborative network and clustering infrastructure has now become a key issue, from top private and public sector people including Professor Michael J Enright from the University of Hong Kong, Reza Zadeh, head of Business Competitiveness Yorkshire Forward and Martin Cronin, CEO of Forfas.

Bob Barbour, the Centre for Competitiveness chief executive says organisations such as the Economic Development Forum and the Cluster Facilitators Forum have recognised the need to clearly define and communicate the concept of clustering.  

“It is important that awareness is raised about the benefits of clusters and how these can be developed. This conference provides an opportunity to discuss and move towards a clustering and collaborative networking strategy that is consistent with the Economic Vision for Northern Ireland.  

“In particular, such a strategy should enhance the competitiveness of SMEs which are doing business with large companies and multinationals.  The strategy should also support and facilitate the development of joint bids in new and traditional industries, and across sectors, where Northern Ireland has competitive strengths.” he says.

Anyone wishing to register for the conference which takes place at the Holiday Inn, Belfast at a cost of £40 per person can do so at www.cforc.org/collaborative/register.htm

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