Partner & Co-Founder, Engage/Innovate
As a strategy and transformation advisor to companies and governments globally, Christian Rangen offers expert insight into the value of cluster programs, the need for collaboration, and what countries globally are doing to meet their needs for economic growth.
How does a country benefit from developing an innovation cluster system?
Research has consistently shown that having strong innovation clusters translates into more competitive industrial sectors and higher economic output. A country can have many informal clusters — or formal clusters — but no overarching national cluster program. Australia, Mexico, and partially the US are great examples of this. Increasingly, however, countries are realizing they need to compete differently, and develop national — or federal — cluster programs. Norway, Denmark, Germany, and Canada are great example here.
In short, having competitive clusters translates into a more robust, thriving, and future-fit economy.
You discuss local vs. global clusters. How is an environment of innovation and collaboration met with both (and possibly working together)?
Most clusters start very local, then slowly grow into a regional, national, and in some cases, an international cluster. At the local level, clusters are built around strong, local networks with high levels of trust. At the global level, these networks of trust usually need time and investment to grow. One example is the Swedish tech ecosystem; there are immensely strong network effects between Sweden and Silicon Valley, where a lot of Swedish tech companies have been able to find partners, customers, and funding through these networks.
How can demand driven innovation through clusters solve the world’s toughest problems faster and better?
There’s little doubt that clusters have the capacity to be true engines of innovation and economic development. Focussing on demand-driven innovation ensures we’re working to solve real challenges, with real market applications. Globally today, clusters are truly racing to compete to solve some of our biggest problems within energy transition, health, and education.
I’m thrilled to see the strategic leadership by the Canadian government and their ambitious cluster program. The world is looking to Canada here — many countries are trying to copy Canada’s playbook to develop their version of the global cluster program.