Under the framework of a typical cluster development project, UNIDO identifies and trains institutional counterparts in a beneficiary country or region as well as project staff that will be engaged in project formulation and implementation. In order to stimulate cluster development in a sustainable manner, the creation of local capacities is paramount. Institutional counterparts and project staff (which can be drawn from or seconded by local public or private sector institutions) will thus have to be carefully selected and involved in an integral way at every step of a cluster or network development initiative. Over time, responsibilities will have to be transferred to local institutions, the governance structure of which will have to be developed and gradually strengthened over the project duration.
Typical actors in a cluster development project thus include:
- Initially, a project team is established including a Project Coordinator (also referred to as ‘project leader’ or ‘technical advisor’) and one or a team of Cluster Development Agents (CDA) and specialist consultants responsible for one cluster each. The project team is usually employed by UNIDO, but will work alongside local institutions to promote the dissemination of the cluster development approach and ensure that its application is carefully tailored to local conditions.
- The wide participation of cluster stakeholders (firms, support institutions, business associations, local authorities and civil society representatives) is encouraged by way of establishing a Cluster Commission (or similar local forum for discussion and debate). The Cluster Commission will be responsible for reviewing and endorsing cluster diagnostics, draft action plans and progress reports. Towards the end of the project, a formal structure should ideally be established with clear rules for operation and management of the cluster and related development initiatives.
- The launching of a cluster development initiative requires wide political support and the building of institutional commitment to promote an environment conducive to its success. Therefore, a Project Steering Committee, in which UNIDO, the national or regional government, relevant business associations and donors would usually participate (as appropriate) and deliberate and decide on critical project-related issues, is a general feature of a UNIDO-supported cluster or network development initiative