Supply Chain Management

First European Forum of Logistic Clusters – Great success

The LOG2020 consortium is enthusiastic about the great success of the First European Forum of Logistic Clusters, which took place on 14-15 October 2014 in Brussels. In the LOG2020 session ‘Meeting the challenges of sustainability: requirements for tomorrow’s Supply Chain Executives’ panellists from science, industry and the European Commission discussed about requirements and developments in the field of education and training of logisticians and supply chain managers. 

Europe on the way to the Innovation Union
As one of their central outcomes, the EU-funded projects LOG4GREEN, SoCool@EU and LOG2020 celebrated the first European Forum of Logistic Clusters on 14-15 October 2014 in Brussels. About 200 participants from over 20 countries, including Brazil, USA and Australia, participated in the forum. The event attracted scientists and company representatives from many important European logistics regions. The participants took advantage from keynotes on the role of logistics for smart regional development and intriguing and lively in-depth exchanges between panellists covering the range of today’s most relevant logistics topics. During breaks, the networking opportunities at posters and regional booths were very well received.

Clusters and Smart Specialisation Strategies as vehicles for more competitiveness

The first day of the conference focused on the role of clusters and their role in transforming Europe into an Innovation Union. Dimitri Corpakis, Head of the Unit ‘Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation’ in the DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission stressed that the innovative performance of European regions still differ at lot. To change this, the European Commission aims at improving the framework conditions for innovation. Both Horizon 2020 and the European Structural and Investment Funds contribute to ensure smart, inclusive and sustainable growth in Europe. Clusters play a crucial role in boosting all regions for more innovation: as intermediaries and important door openers, they serve at the same time as cooperation platforms especially for small and medium businesses. Keir Fitch, Head of the Unit ‘Research and Innovative Transport Systems’ in the DG Move at the European Commission stressed that the logistics sector and their hubs and clusters are crucial for the entire European market. Jacob Stoumann of Oxford Research pointed out that the work of clusters is not always easy as the results are not always directly visible. He encouraged the actors and sponsors involved in cluster initiatives to show some stamina: to build trust and to explore common interests may take several years. However, both are basic for all kind of cooperation in clusters.

For the logisticians among the participants, the first day was of high interest as it gave insights into the strategies of the Commission and the benefits of working in clusters. Moreover, Claire Nauwelaers, an independent international expert in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, explained the chances of setting up a regional smart specialisation strategy: complementary to cluster strategies, smart specialisation is a good starting point for building upon individual characteristics of regions and strengthening their competitiveness. 

Collaboration is key for future logistics
The second day was devoted to six topics that had been defined as particularly relevant for the future by the research projects LOG4GREEN, SoCool@EU and the Erasmus project LOG2020. In six breakout sessions, stakeholders from academia, industry and the public sector intensely discussed main challenges, good practice examples and still existing problems to be solved in the forthcoming years. In the session onGreen investments in supply chains: the inevitable choice towards competitiveness’ panellists agreed that measures towards more sustainability in logistics provide great opportunities not only for the environment, but also for economic efficiency and cost savings. Collaboration across the entire supply chain as well as global, or for the start at least European, standards are key for further success. However, the panellists discussed quite controversially on the question whether regulation or incentives would be a better trigger to boost sustainability in logistics.

The particular role of clusters as potential connectors and “hubs of trust” for horizontal collaboration in supply chains emerged as a question, which has not yet been taken into focus. All panellists of the session “Supply Chain Network Coordination and Collaboration: What will be the success factors for supply chain collaboration in the future?”agreed that horizontal collaboration leads to immediate cost savings in double-digit range and is therefore a must for economic and environmental reasons. However, an independent trustworthy connector is needed to facilitate such efforts – a natural role for cluster organisations?

More and more training programmes focus on holistic education on sustainable logistics

In the session Meeting the challenges of sustainability: requirements for tomorrow’s Supply Chain Executives’ presenting the results of the Erasmus project LOG2020, the panel discussed requirements and developments in the field of education and training of logisticians and supply chain managers. The Master Class, developed during the LOG2020 project, aims at training executive logistics managers to be properly prepared for the inevitable challenges the future holds. Respecting scientific progress, the MasterClass focus on how to optimise supply chains of today and in future scenarios.

Mette Moerk Andersen, representing the Unit ‘Higher education: Modernisation Agenda and Erasmus+‘ in the DG Education and Culture at the European Commission stressed that changing market conditions require flexibility and autonomy in education and training approaches. Marc Fourny, Senior Partner at Acclivity Management Consultants confirmed that job demands are steadily changing and referred to a big study on job offers in the logistics sector. One of the main questions discussed was to what extend and how fast educational institutions react on these changes. Denyse Julien from Cranfield Management University as well as Ton de Kok from the TU Eindhoven and Tias Nimbas assured that education and training programmes are well adapted: new concepts and formats are being developed continuously to meet fast changing demands. At Cranfield for example, executive programmes consider that the broader, so-called T-shade knowledge is much more requested for upper management these days than specialised I-shade knowledge. Ton de Kok added that executives do not only want to gain new knowledge, but to exchange on different topics in order to benchmark their companies. More and more universities establish exclusive ‘research clubs’ for companies with benefits for both sides: companies appreciate the possibility to inspire training courses for their employees with special inputs; universities profit by the open discussion within the meetings. However, both researchers stressed the fact that they do not follow every trend: the universities’ mandate is to offer robust education that outlasts trends. The two company representatives in this session, both active in the educational market as well, pointed out that cooperation between universities and potential customers is as important as cooperation among educational institutions. Ben Beddegenoots, Development Manager at Nike European Logistics Campus explained that the new Nike training centre does not want to compete with established universities, but to cooperate with them. The centre is open to the entire market. Lars Nagel, CEO of the start-up GlobalGate added that not only the needs of the market changed, but also the requirements from the customers: todays’ executives do not have the time for extended classroom trainings, but request flexible and comfortable learning tools. GlobalGates’ approach is to offer “unique learning experience” in order to serve individual needs in a growing community of diverse learners.

The organisers of the Forum are enthusiastic about the great success of this first European Forum of Logistic Clusters. Supported by positive feedback from participants, the clusters sharing the organisation of the conference can well imagine continuing the forum as a biannual event.

For more information please contact:

Meng Lu, Dinalog, the Netherlands,

Or Dagmar Grote Westrik, Effizienzcluster Germany,

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