Global Stage For Midwest’s Clustering Success Story

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Fri Oct 10 2008

Supply Network Shannon (SNS) will join global business leaders at The Competitiveness Institute (TCI) conference in Cape Town from October 25 to November 2, where it will recount how the Midwest Region’s businesses have saved money, improved their products, generated new business and enhanced staff skills through clustering.

Entitled "Clusters 2008: Meeting the Challenge of Globalisation", the conference is intended to provide examples of successful clusters from the most advanced clustering economies in the world.

The all-island Cluster Facilitators Forum – including SNS, Border Vision and the Centre for Competitiveness Clusters – will be presenting at the event.

"Clustering involves a number of companies in one sector working together on issues of mutual interest and benefit. It can add significant value in just about any business sector", explained SNS Chairman Maurice McLernon.

Mr McLernon continued, "One of the best known examples of clustering is in Silicon Valley where high technology companies came together in one area of California to create a world-leading hub of technological innovation. Another example is Hollywood, where film-makers came together and the companies themselves and the sector as a whole benefited enormously."

"The Cluster Facilitators Forum has experience working with dozens of clusters and will draw on this experience at the conference to demonstrate how clustering is adding significant value to businesses on the island", he added.

The TCI conference is held annually and attracts hundreds of delegates from across Africa, Europe, India and the USA.

According to SNS member Dick Whelan of Midwest-based firm Almir Business Ltd, "The Cluster Facilitators Forum consists of cluster practitioners with significant experience in the key areas of collaborative networking and clustering. The partners have collective practical expertise in supporting and developing business networks and have demonstrated a sustained commitment over time to building the case for networks as a valuable means of fostering business development. In particular, the partners have a deep commitment to, and are well placed to influence the recognition, development and deployment of collaborative networking nationally and internationally."

"This commitment has prompted the CFF to develop the innovative 3-D ClusteringTM as a facilitation model. This system includes a navigation and methodology toolkit, the Cluster Positioning SystemTM and CLAIMTM which provides the cluster facilitator with a mechanism that allows the measurement of collaborative effort and a route map for progression towards cluster sustainability", concluded Mr. Whelan.


Notes to Editor:
- For further information please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 00353868534900 or
- The TCI 2008 conference provides a vibrant platform for presenting and debating current thinking on economic development issues by leading scholars and practitioners from around the world. TCI 2008 will focus on deepening the understanding of the role of clusters as the key building blocks of a modern innovative economy. The CFF will share a global platform with cluster practitioners from government, industry and academia from around the world sharing their experiences in running cluster initiatives and programmes.
- The conference is organised by The Competitiveness Institute. TCI is the leading global network for practitioners, policy makers, researchers and business leaders working towards improving competitiveness in regions and clusters. TCI is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with a global scope, open to members from all countries throughout the private, public and voluntary sector. The member base currently consists of 800 leading practitioners from more than 65 countries.
- The TCI conference is the premier collaborative network forum providing a global view of clusters and networks across the world. The event is held annually and will be attended by over 400 delegates from networks in Africa, Europe, India and the USA. This conference is a groundswell recognising the power and importance of cluster initiatives and their value as highly effective economic development tools. The TCI have more than 2500 cluster initiatives mapped globally and through the connections created with the Cluster Facilitators Forum will include the Irish based clusters in forthcoming studies.
- Supply Network Shannon (SNS) is an open, sectoral network of engineering and electronics sub supply companies located in the Shannon region. The impetus for the formation of SNS was a combination of top-down and bottom-up; in the 1990s Shannon Development was becoming increasingly concerned about the low level of technical capability of the sub-supply base in the Shannon region which was contributing to over-reliance on low labour costs for competitive advantage in supplying multinational companies (MNCs); the sub-supply companies themselves were anxious to move up the value chain to circumvent the increased competition from low cost countries. Prompted by the occasion of an international subsupply fair in Limerick in 1997 Shannon Development published a Sub-Supply Directory for the region in 1998. This publication galvanised the listed companies into looking at themselves as a group and seeking opportunities to network together, particularly for the provision of integrated supply solutions to MNC customers. SNS was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1999 and it currently has a membership of some 25 companies. It is driven by an independent Steering Committee whose officers are drawn from nine member companies and two development agencies, Shannon Development and Enterprise Ireland. Shannon Development has provided financial resources and other supports to assist the development of SNS. Limerick University also supports the network through its Small Business Research Unit and Technology Transfer Unit.
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