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Intercluster collaboration in UCA – the first results

Since July 2022, we have tried to join efforts and establish intercluster cooperation within the framework of the Ukrainian cluster alliance. This was confirmed by the steps taken by our Podilia Fashion Cluster (PFC): it was possible to attract Oleksiy Dovganych to cooperation as a consultant and expert on issues of circular economy and sustainable development. His contacts and experience in the indicated areas, as well as his experience in innovation issues (smart fabrics), were obtained during his work in the Lviv cluster. Today, he is ready to share experience with PFC team and other sewing clusters in Ukraine.

Another example is interaction with Yuri Gladenko, manager of the “Slobozhanske hemp growing” cluster. Studying together in the cluster management program at the Karazin Kharkiv Business School, supported by GIZ, we established business contacts. This summer, Yuriy performed a public online presentation of his arsenal regarding working with those who grow hemp and those who make value-added products from it. Production facilities owners included in PFC liked the idea of developing technical hemp, and they decided to develop it in Podilla area. Already in September, several meetings with Serhii Gamaliy, head of the Khmelnytskyi region military administration and his first deputy Serhiy Tyurin confirmed the desire to comprehensively approach the topic of hemp cultivation. It is about an experimental plot of 90 hectares near the city of Starokostyantyniv.

Yuriy Gladenko, manager of the “Slobozhanske hemp growing” cluster

A good matchmaking result was demonstrated in joint efforts with the Agents of Change and the Carpathian Science Park, which operate in Ivano-Frankivsk city on the basis of the V. Stefanyk University. Starting from the first event held by the Ukrainian cluster alliance this summer, cooperation with the “Dniester 1362” International Agrotourism Cluster (IAC) continues to this day.

Meeting in the “Prykarpattia University” Science Park with Professor S. Kurta

Our institutions, which have already held three meetings amoung themselves, businesses and scientists of Prykarpattia, have defined specific areas of cooperation. The focus is on the development of medicinal herbs topic (collection of wild plants, cultivation of organic niche herbs, drying, grinding for export contacts). The plan is to jointly start deep processing, which will result in essential producing oils and hydrolates. Another planned area of work is beekeeping products: pollen, perga, wax and propolis.

Oksana Demchuk at the “Manufaktura” eco-shop in Boykivshyna area

Six grant applications are currently being prepared to support the above-mentioned areas of work: creation of a Fashion Training Center and a Fashion Design Bureau, launch of the pilot project “From a smart beehive to a smart apiary”, purchase of modern equipment for drying herbs, creation of digital platforms for sale of clothes in the EU countries and a special digital resource for small export-oriented companies.

PFC members and Khmelnytskyi National University scientists – working group on preparation of the grant

It is worth noting that the issue of Dniester area agricultural and tourism sector development (today we are talking about rehabilitation) is considered in the context of Ukrainian-Moldovan relations. Most grant applications will include business, academic and public institutions. The project with Moldova, which could not start in March this year due to the war, will start already in December. Within the framework of the UCA coordination center, we are trying to coordinate this activity with broader areas of cross-border cooperation, and for this purpose, a corresponding working group has been launched, headed by Nataliya Harashchenko, UCA Analytical Center expert and president of the Economists Club.

Dniester area plan-scheme

Summarizing these examples, it is obvious that there is a huge potential and space for intercluster, expert, interregional, interbranch, etc. cooperation within the framework of interaction in UCA. The main limitation in this process is resources from clusters, expert support and openness, that is, readiness for cooperation.

We need to grow more qualified, strong and proactive managers in each cluster and in UCA in general, who think on the scale of region or sector (industry), and are able to cooperate quickly. Equally important is expert support, that is, presence of real experts who deeply understand key challenges in a specific segment or industry, know possible solutions, understand regulatory and legal aspects, and, most importantly, see how all these things can be combined with European programs and funds. For both categories, proactivity as a skill and a way of thinking is a very important factor – because number of challenges and opportunities around us is simply huge, and the turbulent environment generates them again and again. And the third factor, readiness for cooperation, as a way of thinking, I won’t even comment on it – it’s a must-have for every cluster coordinator.

Representatives of SMEs that are part of “Dniester 206” (Prykarpattia) business association. Far right – Oleh Demchuk

In understanding and implementing these success factors of intercluster cooperation, I am in full solidarity with the leadership of UCA and I am glad that at our level we are already demonstrating this proactivity and expertise and, accordingly, we are having certain successes. New challenges and opportunities are waiting for us ahead, so we will be glad to receive counter offers of cooperation.

Oleh Demchuk, PFC and “Dniester 1362” IAC cofounder

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:

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