Provision of ICs, RV and Stretching Processes in It’s OWL
In it’s OWL cluster, the ICs can be associated with the idea of technology transfer, and in particular, the existence of smart factoiy. RV, on the other hand, materialises via work on SE, which implies the fusion of mechanical engineering, IT, software engineering and others. Based on the results of it’s OWL field smdy, it might be argued that the clusters’ relevance for 14.0 development would rest on the provision of ICs, i.e. manufacturing and technology capabilities supporting the innovativeness across industries, and on the emergence of RV, i.e. the externalities of co-location of different industries sharing some commonalities (Figure 4.2).
The importance of ICs would be the more articulated, the larger the share of SMEs’ inhibiting clusters. These firms are usually considered as poorer—equipped to face technological challenges than large companies, which can afford more risk-taking and have funds and staff to handle the digital transformation. They are affected by the liability of smallness, which makes the provision of ICs even more critical (Figure 4.3).
Figure 4.2 Building blocks of the conceptual model for studying Industry 4.0 clusters Source. Author’s own proposal
Figure 4.3 Roots of the importance of industrial commons Source: Author’s own proposal
Dei 'eloping a Conceptual Model 3 7
Related variety on the other hand, can be linked to the idiosyncrasy of 14.0, namely, the SE underpinning it. SE promotes a holistic and inter-disciplinary approach, which is crucial for the development of complex products and processes, such as ITSs—a backbone of 14.0.
It’s OWL centred around the field of mechatronics and SE, which are characterised by a holistic and inter-disciplinary perspective, incorporating various engineering and manufacturing areas, implies the importance of RV. This, in consequence, justifies some blending of the cluster, i.e. it calls for some reaching out to other areas, or a spreading of core competencies to other familiar fields (Figure 4.4). On the other hand, the dominance of medium-sized firms, in need of accessing ICs, seems to warrant some processes of hubbing of the cluster. The optimal properly designed geographical expansion should enable tapping into external skills, competences and technologies, and subsequently, allow the upgrading of it’s OWL’s existing excellences.
As the case of a leading-edge cluster t’s OWL demonstr ates, the co-existence of suppliers and customers in the region (incarnating, in fact, the dual strategy) proves critical seed for developing more institutionalised cluster. A complementary essential factor firms out to be knowledge—technologies and know-how rooted in the region—its universities and research institutions, such as Fraunhofer Institutes. These two were at the bottom of any further development of a proper cluster—a backbone for subsequent initiatives. Adding the institutional layer, i.e. the policy component was regarded as a complementary step, buttressing what has been already achieved to galvanise it to the benefits of the whole region further. These factors can be considered as crucial for successful implementation of digitisation in the area. Yet, the 14.0 adoption affects the cluster, conversely. It creates the need for- developing ICs, i.e. forces local stakeholders to provide capabilities inevitable for further prosperous growth. 14.0 by its very nature abolishes borders and boundaries among firms and sectors facilitating cross-sectoral approach and encourages the development of RVs—of complementary, but diversified competences. Thus, 14.0 reshapes the essence of local cluster and forces it into some modification. It requires incorporating a more inter-sectoral systemic approach, focusing on the provision of ICs and the emergence of RVs. Among others, it facilitates the processes of opening—of increasing
Figure 4.4 Roots of importance of related variety> Source: Author’s own proposal both the geographical scale and industrial scope. This stretching—including hubbing and blending—further reinforces the original knowledge base, as it prevents inertia and allows for learning options. The institutional layer of the cluster and marketing activities, which enable the reaching out of the cluster, plays a unique role and should not be under-estimated (Figure 4.5).
The conceptual model, proposed below, refers to the new concept of ‘the open region’ by Schmidt, Muller, Ibert and Brinks (2018), which offers a heuristic view on a proactive policy, allowing for the dialectic inteiplay between territorial openness and closure, and aiming at exploiting opportunities for regions' innovation by mobilising external expertise. It’s OWL is an industry-led cluster, where the top results from research institutions build the technology platform, to which industry partners can have access. Transfer projects enable SME’s to benefit, significantly, from innovation, and progressive governance organisation co-exists with a considerable commitment of industry partners (steering board and advisory board). To achieve its long-term goals and jointly manage the challenges of digitalisation, it’s OWL forms new national and international partnerships with partners, who have complementary skills and proven track records in related areas (concept based on strength). It would appear that, based on it’s OWL representatives’ opinions, knowledge matters most for the advancement of 14.0 in the cluster: ‘the fact that people know the subject, speak the same technical language, the cognitive proximity and favourable environment for generating and disseminating innovations is critical. Next or parallel comes the business aspect—co-location of related industries, co-operation and competition among local firms and the presence of customers. Finally, as perhaps one of its slightly less important features—the institutional umbrella aspect’ (E2). The cluster’s role in facilitating the digital business transformation in the region can be summarised by saying that it serves as a platform, which allows the partners to work jointly across all disciplines and along the entire value chain.
The first part of this study—it’s OWL case research yielded the conceptual framework, which might be harnessed for analysing the 14.0 clusters. It is a broad and general scaffolding, which might be further developed and enriched. However, already, the explorative study has shown just how critical is the role played by the provision of ICs. What is worth stressing even more is the relevance of assuring the availability of these capabilities, and hi him, the importance of technology transfer. It has also demonstrated the importance of RV, without, however, discussing the exact externalities stemming from such co-existence of diversified yet complementary sectors and benefits, accruing to this range of various industries. The sections below outline in more details the four key concepts identified in the first part of the research.
Figure 4.5 Evolution of cluster in the Industry 4.0 era Source Author’s own proposal
40 Knowledge, Business, Policy in Cluster