INFO AND NETWORKING
National Cluster Association as a strong and well established organisation values its members, endorses their common aims and interests and highlights the importance of clusters in the process of innovation support and competitiveness in the Czech Republic. NCA is a well-known and respected entity and this position enables helping members, clusters and companies with official negotiations, deals and agreements on the regional, national and European level.NCA promotes knowledge and know- how of successful clusters in the areas of Digital Innovation Hubs, RIS 3 and many other popular fields.
What are we planning fot the year 2022?
- In 2020, we published the first version of the Map of Clusters.
Since then, we have been continuously mapping clusters in the Czech Republic (all clusters, including NCA non-members). This map helps us understand the importance of clusters and a variety of companies and research institutions representing them. In addition, we have created complete evidence of the NCA members and their individual profiles. We plan to develop profiles and information also about non-member clusters in the future. The detailed profile provides complete information about different fields of business, clusters know-how, topics and aims of the expert groups, technological background, involvement in international projects and overall interconnectedness and collaboration. Accordingly, NCA possesses an effective tool that enables us to connect you and our members with one another and promote your work and achievements on the national and international levels.
Annual Days of Clusters
A traditional event that we organise in different regions of the Czech Republic enables us to demonstrate the power and achievements of the clusters and their benefits for the regional partners as well as on the national level. Our clusters have the opportunity to present success in the fields of innovation, international cooperation, education, regional development of innovation environment etc.
We have very favourable reactions to this event from attending clusters. Clusters feel this day strengthens their importance and image and helps others understand the valuable contribution of the clusters to the economic development not only of their member companies but especially of the entire region.
- NCA Information Service
Information Service is another effective tool enabling our cluster organisations access to the news and events in desired fields. Usually, once a month, we send an extensive email where we have selected exciting news and invitations. It contains a wide scale of information from our Web Site, particularly the success and achievements of our cluster members, opening opportunities, etc.
Soon, we will also add the information “from the NCA kitchen”, which means continuously sharing what our skilled team has achieved or is currently working on.
Regular Online Meetings and Internal Networking of our Members
Each month, we organise a short online meeting of the NCA members, always on the first Thursday of the month, from 8:30 am to 9:30 am. It is an opportunity for members to stay connected with one another, share their news, highlight achievements, and propose products or services. We are very content that our members have got to know one another, gained mutual respect, and feel comfortable sharing their concerns or asking others for a helping hand. Traditionally, one cluster at each meeting gets an opportunity to introduce itself, its product or service, and even inspire others or propose particular cooperation with other clusters or their company members. Each meeting is concluded in “educational mode”, aiming to provide valuable and useful news and information, such as current calls for proposals, legislative changes, business cooperation opportunities etc.
- Clusters and their Involvement in New “Modern” Topics
We are supporting our cluster organisations in participation in Digital Innovation Hubs, RIS3 Strategy (National Innovation and Research Strategy for Smart Specialization) on regional and national levels (projects of Smart Accelerator) and involvement in national innovation platforms.
Training of the Cluster Managers
This training took place only twice in the year 2021 (the first was part of the Day of Clusters in Liberec, and the second was online). Furthermore, in the year 2022, we organized a webinar focused on a Green Deal under the Plastic Cluster representative's leadership and also a Prague workshop aimed at communication. We are planning other webinars in the near future. The topics will reflect the requirements and demands of our members. In particular, we have also noticed that fields such as bioeconomy and whistleblowing are very required and popular. Unlike short online training, which is usually part of monthly meetings, the seminars are generally longer (approximately one to two hours).
Professional Training Courses for the Employees of Cluster Member Companies
National Cluster Association provides complimentary education for the employees of the cluster member companies. The project enables free education: “Through the Education to Innovation„ ( OPZ - Operation Program Employment). Since the project's commencement in 2020, we have successfully educated and trained hundreds of employees from 20 companies. The companies involved have been from the following clusters: IT Cluster, Cluster Mechatronics, CZECHIMPLANT, CzechBio, The Czech Membrane Platform, Czech Optical Cluster, and SINEC (Cluster of Social Innovation and Enterprises).
The project opens up opportunities for the participants and employers with hundreds of courses from these areas: Management and Soft Skills (different courses in the fields of Human Resources, Marketing, Management, Production, and Personal Development), Accounting, Legal and Economic Courses, and IT Courses.
Cluster managers can offer possibilities of complimentary education thanks to our project to their members. It is an excellent benefit for the companies and, accordingly, for the entire cluster because it saves hundreds or even millions on educational costs.
Contact Person: Lucie Foldynova, tel. : +420 773 032 220,
LOBBYING AND PROMOTION
- Empowerment and Support of the Relationships with the Ministries, Regions and other Stakeholders
Crucial part of our work is to promote our clusters and support their needs on national and regional level. Throughout the meetings at different Ministries as well as with the regional authorities we participate on relevant events and milestones. We give our feedback to prepared materials; enforce cluster politics and its implementation into the regional and national strategic documents. Last but not least, NCA is very active in influencing the plans and concepts of operational programmes and calls for proposals on the national level (OPZ, OPPIK/OPTAK).
- Roadshow in Digitalization
NCA as an active co-organizer of conferences on digitalization in the Czech and Slovak Republic has held six conferences in the year 2021. There have been IT Cluster and Network Security Monitoring Cluster participating in organization of the event as well. Accordingly, NCA is involved in currently popular topic and has gained a scale of experts in the field.
- „Publication Klastroviny“
This unique and quality publication serves as a „display case“ of NCA in printed and pdf versions. The booklet promotes NCA and especially the member cluster organizations and supports the cluster concept of reaching for regional and National partners. We publish one or two editions a year. Briefly, „ It fits in hand and looks good“. Mostly, the articles are in the form of testimonies about NCA members and their specific contributions to the region.
CONSULTANCY AND SERVICES
Team NCA also provides charged services, such as consultancy in the area of fundraising, project management and open opportunities within various operational programmes. Furthermore, we are also ready to walk clusters step by step through the process of gaining Labels of Cluster Excellence, or we can elaborate and finalize the analysis based on the original expectations and requirements.
Are you thinking about gaining the Label of Excellence? Do you need a project team within your staff? Do you need to elaborate on analysis as a part of the project key activity? Is there any other way NCA could help?
Guidepost of the Open Calls
Since last March, we have been regularly processing and upgrading open calls for proposals. Besides standard calls from National Operational Programmes, we focus mainly on European Programmes. In addition, we also monitor „Mini-grants“, the mini calls for proposals usually aimed at a particular segment/field with a short period for preparation and a relatively low budget, approximately 10 000 Euro per project. The number of mini-grants will be on the rise in the following years. There are mostly focused on pilot verifications of the Interreg or other European projects with cascade financing. These small grants could be exciting for the applicants, especially due to the simplicity: brief application, fast process of project selection, as well as a financial settlement. Usually, cluster organisations are not eligible for mini-grant funding; however, it could be very interesting for their member companies. In short, we regularly prepare information for the cluster managers concerning the funding opportunities they can share with their members. As far as we know, there is no other information of this scale available anywhere around the country; therefore, we provide access exclusively to our members (there is no link on the NCA Web Site. The info is sent via emails).
NCA is a founding member of the European Cluster Alliance (ECA). ECA unites National cluster associations throughout Europe, ensures access to the latest information concerning European policy preparation, and is a key player in giving feedback and comments to the upcoming calls for proposals and initiates project consortia formation. In addition, NCA is the founder of the European Clusters Excellence Labelling Structure (EUCLES). This organization is taking over the process of granting Bronze, Silver and Gold labels of excellence this year. Due to the cooperation with these organizations, NCA possesses a vast and still expanding scale of important contacts within Europe. Accordingly, NCA helps its members get involved in international consortiums and ensures cooperation on international projects (in the year 2021, we have successfully facilitated the entrance of three NCA members into project consortia). In addition, NCA provides its members with valuable information, news and upgrades regarding cluster politics on the European level.
The main aim of NCA is to prove the Czech Republic and its clusters are strong entities actively involved internationally and built up relationships with European Commission representatives and other relevant players in the European market. NCA keeps supporting clusters by participating in preparing operational programmes and community calls for proposals from European Commission and endorses cluster interests within overall European funding.