Gold in cluster management – the first Gold Label certificate in the country to EnergyVaasa cluster
The EnergyVaasa energy cluster has been granted an ECEI Gold Label certificate of the highest degree, which demonstrates first-class, sophisticated cluster management. There are ca 1000 clusters in Europe, i.e., geographical concentrations that have formed around actors in a certain industry. The Gold Label certificate of the Vaasa cluster is the first of its kind in Finland, and the energy industry’s fourth in the Nordic countries and sixth in Europe.
The ECEI certificates are granted by The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA), which is a neutral council, subject to the EU, with EU-level rights to audit cluster operations. The certificates come in three levels: bronze, silver, and gold, and they act as international standards in cluster management. Ever more often clusters are required to meet a certain certificate level to obtain EU funding.
The result of years of work
For EnergyVaasa, the gold certificate is the result of long strategic collaboration. The Vaasa energy cluster had already earlier been awarded the bronze certificate, but work for the highest gold level auditing has been done over past year. During two audit days, ESCA representatives familiarised themselves with EnergyVaasa to assure that the cluster is led systematically and through continuous development of its operations, strategy, and marketing. The granted gold certificate is valid for two years.
”Merinova launched EnergyVaasa’s official operations together with ABB and the city of Vaasa in 2001, but we have been working as an important and neutral background actor for the cluster for the past 33 years. The extensive work that has been done for a long time in the EnergyVaasa cluster has now been confirmed on EU-level. This not only holds local or national significance, but the certification is also internationally relevant”, notes Mika Konu, Managing Director of Technology Centre Merinova.
“We are very happy that the gold certificate was awarded to EnergyVaasa. It highlights the high-quality, good work of the actors of the ecosystem, including Merinova – work, which we now can share with an even wider audience and let our customers and partners utilise”, congratulates CEO Ulla Mäki-Lohiluoma of Vaasa Facilita and Vaasa Parks, who help EnergyVaasa companies with business premises and local establishments, and are a part of the cluster’s development team.
The companies of the cluster are at the centre of its operations
The most important task of industry clusters is to produce added value for its companies. This is something also the Gold Label evaluation process assesses through 31 eligibility criteria.
“High-quality cluster management is like a cycle, where companies play a central role. The auditors assess whether the cluster companies have taken part in creating its strategic plan and if the plan is based on their needs. They also assess how the strategy is present in the cluster’s operations and if actions taken are based on the strategy. When the plan has been carried out, it is evaluated, and the companies are asked whether the measures match their needs. Based on this, a new strategic plan is created”, describes Johan Wasberg, Senior Expert at Merinova.
A quality label that attracts internationally and enables financing
Attaining the gold label clearly demonstrates that a cluster is a pioneer in its industry. The certificate also gives the cluster other benefits. In Denmark, clusters are required to hold a gold level to obtain international and regional financing. For the EnergyVaasa cluster, this trump card enables new development and collaboration opportunities:
“The Gold Label certificate is a quality label that shows that the EnergyVaasa cluster collaborates on EU level. This top qualification makes us an internationally attractive collaboration partner and is important for the development of our cooperation networks. It also significantly advances EU funding opportunities, both for cluster company investments and regional development projects”, rejoices CEO Stefan Råback at Vaasa Region Development Company, which, i.a., oversees EnergyVaasa’s marketing activities.
Among EnergyVaasa’s central actors is also Viexpo, a cooperative that promotes Ostrobothnian export. The ECEI Gold Label also presents new opportunities for Viexpo’s work:
”It is great to see that clusters are viewed as a good tool for company development, as cluster collaboration and development is important in our work too. It is wonderful, that a cluster in our region has received such a distinction. It emphasises the good work done in the Vaasa region – very few have a Gold Label”, notes Kristian Schrey, CEO of Viexpo.
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