The Development of Cooperative Relationships in ArchEnerg Cluster
ArchEnerg International Renewable Energy and Construction Innovation Cluster (ArchEnerg Cluster) is an example of a mature cluster structure, which is harmonious with both the principles of cluster policy in Hungary, as well as the priorities of economic growth.2 The CO was created with a view to supporting (primarily in the economic and social dimensions) the renewables sector: the more efficient use of green energy and obtaining the high- energy efficiency of business processes. Furthermore, another goal of the created CO was to develop cooperation among entities connected to one another within the value chain and to ensure high-quality business services in the areas of supporting the development of cooperation, innovation, organization, marketing, financing, and education. ArchEnerg Cluster creates an environment for the development of innovative projects; supports processes pertaining to knowledge and technology transfer. The cluster also focuses on the ecological environment and challenges tied to sustainable growth. Its operations - despite being primarily connected to the energy sector - also touch upon construction, water economy, and the food and beverage industry. For ArchEnerg Cluster, the main fields of operation are energy (including energy rationalization, biomass, biogas, increasing energy efficiency, Smart City), environmental protection (inter alia (i.a.) household waste management, hazardous waste treatment and processing, water management), building industry (i.a. traditional construction investments, bioconstruction solutions, electrical and other interior assembly, home automation, integrated control systems), as well as organizational and business process development, innovation, project management, research, and training.
Level I "Integration at the Unit Level"
ArchEnerg Cluster fulfills three roles assigned to the first level of cooperation: those of Informer, Information exchange platform, and Social integrator. This is facilitated by the communication platform built in the CO. Communication is a very important area of the activities of ArchEnerg Cluster, which is supported by the fact that building communication plans is included in the developmental strategy of the CO. ArchEnerg Cluster develops various communication channels, which first and foremost facilitate direct contacts. One opportunity to develop interpersonal contacts (CO as a “Social integrator”), on the basis of which it is possible to provide access to information (CO as an “Informer”) and facilitate the exchange of information (CO as an “Information exchange platform”), are all meetings organized by the coordinator and the cluster members. The main administrative body of ArchEnerg Cluster is the General Meeting, which comprises all members, who meet annually in the form of a general assembly in order to discuss all strategic matters pertaining to the further management of the CO. These meetings provide an opportunity to deepen relationships among the CO, as well as to exchange ideas, knowledge, and experiences. Beside annual meetings, ArchEnerg Cluster also organizes ongoing meetings with the participation of selected members, as well as external entities.
Face-to-face meetings are also accompanied by information and communications technolog)' (ICT) solutions, which may be treated as supplementing the first two roles of the CO (Informer and Information exchange platform). The coordinator of ArchEnerg Cluster uses different means of communication to proliferate information (including telephone, mailing, websites). Furthermore, the CO publishes a regular newsletter with information on the life of ArchEnerg Cluster and information on the broadly understood energy sector. Some of the solutions used by ArchEnerg Cluster not only enable the flow of information from the coordinator to the members, but also the interactive exchange of information among the particular members (forum, the CO profile on different social media websites: Facebook, Linkedln). ICT solutions also facilitate the management of the CO and the decision-making process in a group of scattered entities. When the members are not able to participate in meetings held in the CO, they are able to send their proposals and suggestions with the use of the means of communication at hand.
The role of COs as an Information exchange platform and Social integrator is also made apparent in the activities of ArchEnerg Cluster tied to its membership in international networks of cooperation (subject-specific, sector- specific) and in initiating cooperation with external entities, including other COs. The aim of ArchEnerg Cluster is to create and develop cross-border and intrasector networks of business contacts and to develop strategic cooperation with foreign clusters. ArchEnerg Cluster participates in numerous projects focused on developing cooperation with foreign COs, which include COS- MENERG, EaP Plus, INTERREG-IPA CBC, Hungary-Serbia, as well as two projects executed in cooperation with Romanian partners: INTERREGCL- USTER - “Inside a cluster - beyond the border” - cross-border cluster relations for the development of economic cooperation and PROMOCLUS - Promoting the Establishment of Renewable Energy Clusters in the Hungarian- Romanian Cross-border Area by the Transfer of Hungarian Best-practices. The above cooperation is undertaken in multiple areas, which means it can be assigned to different levels of cluster cooperation, particularly levels III (i.a. projects aimed at the development and promotion of ecological attitudes) and IV (innovative projects). In reference to level I of cluster cooperation, we should highlight cooperation in the area of organizing various business events. Within such cooperation, ArchEnerg Cluster participates in numerous events on both a national and international level: conferences, exhibitions, and fairs, both as an organizer and as an exhibitor, representing the CO and its members on a broad forum. During such events, the CO attempts to initiate contacts among companies by organizing conferences and business-to- business networking meetings facilitating making business contacts, which may later develop into lasting partner relationships. Cooperation with foreign clusters also has the aim of exchanging good practices, mutual learning, as well as providing an opportunity to obtain information on the newest trends and technologies developed in the energy sector. Because of the possibility to exchange general information and achieve social integration, the above activities were assigned to level I. However, because the received information may have a considerably broader scope (exceeding the given CO), they can also be assigned to level III. Furthermore, other activities related to these actions (marketing, joint promotion) are also associated with level III.