I am becoming more sold on the benefit of these types of groups – as long as they are properly mandated, resourced and funded. Industry associations or sector councils that just host golf tournaments, the occasional motivational dinner/networking session and publish a directory – don’t not add much value and I would say that many of them fit this profile.
But the groups that are strongly mandated to catalyze the growth of an industry sector can have real successful. Governments seem to be even less interested these days (at least around here) to hear about cluster development (or any synonyms) so maybe the industries themselves will need to pick up the baton and work on the issues.
Every industry has firm level and industry-level issues associated with competitiveness and long term growth. At the firm level, industries should vigorously compete with each other but at the industry-level they should work on issues that impact them all such as access to R&D facilities/funds, the pipeline for workforce talent, the overall cost structure, promoting the industry far and wide, etc.
A litmus test for me about this NBITC will be its stand on attracting companies to the province. If it comes out with the usual line about the need to “grow from within” and all the other related euphemisms – I’ll lose interest very quickly.
Successful IT clusters around North America are built on a health mix of large, national and internetional firms and small, dynamic startups. Many of the sucessful IT industry associations are heavily involved in trying to attract investment to their region (think CTT) and if New Brunswick’s NBITC comes out with that old tired business and lobbies against efforts to attract industry – count me out.
Other than that, I am encouraged that this group is emerging and hope it can play that catalytic role that has been missing for sometime for this sector.