One of the goals of the SmartSport4GoodLife (SS4GL) project, in which Cluster Sports & Technology participates, is to update and improve each clusters’ strategy to adapt as much as possible the cluster stakeholders’ future needs. The adaptation will be based on both information from the cluster stakeholders themselves but also be inspired from the other clusters’ activities and opportunities.
At the start of the project, our strategic plan was entering its final year (2016-2020). We, Cluster Sports & Technology, already defined the direction of our future strategy, which is setting up an Innovation Hub for Sports & Vitality. The SS4GL project helps us to make those plans more concrete, but also to look closer to our cluster services and to benchmark them with the services of the other project partners.
LEARNING FROM OTHERS
3 Partners of the SS4GL project are also part of the consortium of the running Interreg Europe project Inno4sports (started in June 2018). From that project we used the approach of developing a regional state of affairs (a good description of the region’s particulars on sports&vitality) and a SWOT analysis of the cluster. We discussed these analysis with all partners of the SS4GL project and improved our SWOT analysis through inspiration of their information.
In addition, we looked together at each other’s service package and discussed challenges and solutions. This also inspired us to develop new services and to develop other structures with associated funding. We will include these in our strategic plan. So, in addition to setting our strategic end goal, the strategic plan includes also strengthening our cluster activities and services. We also organized meetings with various stakeholders to further discuss our future strategic plan.
We cover topics such as ‘How do we deal with member management?’ ‘How do we remain attractive to our members?’ and ‘How do we help SMEs in these difficult times?’
CORONA EFFECT TO THE NEW STRATEGY
The sports sector is one of the sectors most affected by the crisis and the lockdown (e.g. gyms closed, sports events were cancelled, etc.). But Corona also emphasized the enormous importance of healthy active lifestyle that can be stimulated from the sports sector.That is why we sought cooperation with European partners to see how we as a cluster can better cope with the effects of the pandemic in the middle/long term and elaborate/adjust our strategy for the new future, the post-corona era. In addition All SS4GL project partners held interviews with their cluster members to identify and to integrate their needs. We made a joint report of the results of all partners. We also take these results into account when adjusting our strategic plan. We concluded that 2 dominant lines are visible to be taken into account in our clusters future strategy.
- The importance of digitalisation on cluster level: In particular, a more digital set-up of our service package is an important switch.
- The importance of the already defined ambition to set up the Innovation Hub for Sports & Vitality is even stronger underlines
STEPS TOWARDS THE FUTURE: THE INNOVATION HUB FOR SPORTS& VITALITY
A healthier, more active lifestyle makes people more resilient, both physically and mentally, to the consequences of the pandemic. E.g. people with overweight more often experience serious medical conditions as a result of the corona crisis. This increases the need for innovative solutions to seduce people to exercise more. This underlines the importance of our strategic ambitions, an Innovation Hub for Sports & Vitality. In this Hub parties from the quadruple helix collaborate to develop and implement innovations for sports and vitality and as such support both public parties in need of these innovative approaches and private parties that are able to deliver these. That is why our strategic plan focuses on this Hub development and why we are working with partners to further shape this.
INSPIRATION AND COLLABORATION IN THE STRATEGY
To optimize the operation of the Innovation Hub for Sports & Vitality, we seek to collaborate with other innovation hubs in Europe in the field of sports and vitality. Therefore, we also focus on European cooperation and the use of digital platforms to strengthen this.
In summary, thanks to the inspiration by the other partners we are able to implement the good practises of them into our future strategy. But even more, in collaboration with the partners of the SS4GL project we have been able to benchmark our plan and have ensured that the new strategic plan is more in line with the so-called ‘new normal’, the new needs that companies have due to the corona crisis. As such, the importance of our strategic plan is growing more and more.