Olexandr Yurchak, head of UCA
The Global Impact Economic Forum on Ukraine, held in Istanbul, became the first major international event where our Сluster alliance was presented. Accordingly, it was our representatives’ important task to come up with the right messages that fit into the general context. Preparations were made beforehand, and the general UCA presentation with proposals for international partners was displayed on the UCA home page a few days before the forum start. At the same time, it was not clear whether our proposals would fit into the forum’s general context. After all, it is one thing to assume something at one’s level and in a narrow circle of like-minded people, and it is quite another to plunge into a whirlpool of discussions of a large international community. So, let’s see how our proposals fit into the discourses of the forum, and whether they fit at all.
Formulation of the context – ‘Right now’ vs ‘After the war’
The forum was rich in exchanges, where many opinions, insights and proposals were generated regarding collective response of the united international community to a number of challenges in the sphere of supply chains, food, energy, humanitarian security, etc. (ITC press release – here). And analyzing each of these discourses on one or another topic is a particular task for our analysts. At the same time, if we reduce all discussions’ essence to one question, then for me it would sound like “what sould be done right now – and what is to be done after the war?”. In the subtitle, I use these terms in opposition (Right now vs After the war), because it looked like many speakers did not distinguish very clearly between these temporary reactions of communities and governments of different countries. Meanwhile, it is extremely important to distinguish between these time periods, because many of the audience’s questions were voiced publicly, and sounded like “How can we help Ukraine and do it now?”. Given that crisis phenomena are gaining a global character, the question of “right now” was also addressed to many countries. Therefore, clear answers – separately to “right now” and separately – to “after the war” seem crucial. After all, if you answer only the second part, you lose the enormous energy and potential of the community, available really “right now”. And all conversations about resilience can turn into empty PR – what kind of resilience can you talk about if you don’t demonstrate it on the economic front right now, when the war is going on?
John W.H. Denton, the International Chamber of Commerce Secretary General, also emphasized the importance of immediate response of the world community, proposing establishment of a collective center with participation of ICC, Industries and other business communities’ representatives to solve a number of issues that no one can solve alone.
3 key strategies of UCA internationalization
In my opinion, UCA proposals sounded absolutely relevant – since they were addressed to “right now” strategies with a smooth transition to “after the war”. In the context of a short oral panel discussion my challenge was to convey these key messages to the audience within a few minutes. In this blog I will repeat the main points of my speech for a wide foreign audience.
During the forum we heard a lot about Ukrainian resilience. It was the clear recognition but maybe we should go deeper and look for all answers to the “How to be resilient in war times”. In fact, this is important not just for Ukraine but for all countries.
The answer of UCA is “Let’s better collaborate at the level of professional communities”. It means communities should be better united and mobilized, and more solidary around common values and common challenges inside of Ukraine and outside, those communities who want to help us.
In UCA we were united from the 1st week of the war around challenges of Industrial SMEs who are members of our clusters. The challenge #1 is about taking orders. It’s obvious for everybody, as the domestic market in Ukraine shrinked dramatically and about half of SMEs just stopped their operation.
How to react on this challenge? There are different options but we were concentrated on the option #1: we should go international. Much better, stronger and by more collaborative way. So, we started to deploy 3 main strategies:
- Joining international professional communities and starting the industrial dialogue. We contacted many associations and cluster organizations through Europe and US, and today many of them opened the door for such a dialogue. UCA became a member of European cluster alliance which unites 17 national cluster associations through Europe. European Institute of Innovations and Technologies, Circular Economy Alliance also openned their door. Several associations of UCA joined to their peers in domain of Control System Integration (CSIA – US), Textile industry (EuraTex), Automotive and Maritime and so on. It’s important to note that all these memberships are proposed for Ukrainian associations and clusters for free.
- Support trade and increase level of integration into global and EU value chains. In the dialogue with mentioned association we look for touchpoints, meaning area of collaboration. We try to find collaboration options not just about direct export-import, but to build a larger panorama with regard to inter-regional and bi-lateral cooperation. Today we consider options like
- Common participation in pan-European programs of innovation such as Horizon Europe or support of inter-regional cooperation.
- It can be also projects about better integration into EU – WW value chains. For instance, our association built database of free resources in Industrial Automation and IT-development. And presented it to colleagues from EU/US and we’ve got immediate feedback “Yes. We need such kind of services”.
- Build bi-lateral agenda in Manufacturing and Advanced manufacturing. For instance, we start with Czech Republic with a simple idea of participation of UA manufacturers in a big trade fair in October. But then we started to think how to extend these exchange. We found many touchpoints in cyber-security, development of DIH, Industry 4.0 policy-making and so on. So we started to build short-term agenda where we include many actions and measures. Up to me, this a good approach for many countries.
For Turkey, for example, we consider several options as well. For instance, we’re very interested if we can replicate your TUBITAC program in Ukraine. Or, if we can improve our collaboration in Black sea programs supported by EU commission? Or, if we can improve collaborate on between sectors like construction, agri-food and textile?
More extended view in our program Export-Internationalization
In fact, proposals above are just a part of those we developed in the program ‘Export-Internationalization of Industrial SME’.
- Expansion and better support of the “Buy Ukrainian” program, which is already offered to the “Entrepreneurship and Export Promotion Office” state enterprise.
- Integration into GVC: a program to support integration of Ukrainian enterprises into European and international value-added chains.
- Inno-Integration: programs of accelerated inclusion and support of Ukrainian innovative enterprises into the relevant European programs of innovative development, digital and green twin transition.
- Standardization: programs for supporting technical regulation and accelerated transition of Ukrainian enterprises to international and EU technical standards.
The document provides details and measures for each group of actions, as well as 11 currently developed UCA projects. Budgets, action plans, and outputs are identified for them as well. These UCA proposals are derived from those developed by the Industry4Ukraine platform experts in 2018-19. The document contains samples and results of UCA activities held in the first 3 months of the current war, which demonstrate the potential of business associations cooperating with the State.
The proposals to the government also include recommendations for immediate actions, which are the validation of 2 state programs of Integration into GVC and Cluster development, as well as a better balancing of interests of hi-tech industries, which are the core of the defense industry together with other sectors of the economy in anti-crisis programs. You can download this program here.
Coming back to the Istanbul forum, I would like to thank the organizers, all partners and attendees. It was a great exchange and Ukrainian Cluster Alliance is ready to start collaboration with interested parties.
This publication was prepared with support from “EU4Business: SME Competitiveness and Internationalisation” programme which is co-financed by the European Union and the German Government and is implemented by German Federal Company “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH”. The programme aims to create better conditions for the development of Ukrainian small and medium-sized enterprises, support innovation and export promotion, resulting in sustainable and equitable economic growth. As part of the Team Europe approach, the initiative will also contribute to Ukraine’s COVID-19 recovery.
EU4Business is an umbrella initiative that includes all EU support to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in the Eastern Partnership countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Read more: www.eu4business.org.ua.