On 15th December FoodNet project that allowed for Food In Eco Network meta-cluster establishment has officially ended. This 2-years project developed by 5 Partners from 5 European countries has achieved all of the planned objectives and we are proud to present a short summary of its achievements.
A first step in laying the ground for the FoodNet meta-cluster set up was to perform survey about interests, needs, obstacles concerning internationalisation of food activities, expected future benefits from the cooperation in the FoodNet meta-cluster as well as possible barriers and threats, success factors for meta-cluster and key drivers for FoodNet sustainability. In order to collect this information a questionnaire had been designed and sent to food and logistics companies with a focus on SMEs in 5 European countries participating in the project (Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Spain) as well as to identified clusters from EU and non-EU countries.
The survey supported Consortium in shaping strategy of meta-cluster and allowed to select 3 priority target markets for internationalisation strategy development which in the next step had been deeply analysed and described: People’s Republic of China (PRC), United States of America (USA) and Canada, Middle East Region (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Iraq). It is worth mentioning that the meta-cluster is not limiting activities to the 3 targeted markets as other potential Partners which may have also interest in other third country markets are invited to join the meta-cluster.
Simultaneously Partners decided on strategic goals of FoodNet, organisation structure, decision making, authorities of the FoodNet organisation and financial aspects. There are three types of the organisations forming the FoodNet meta-cluster: (1) Funding members – clusters that have set-up the meta-cluster and as the first signed the Food in Eco Network Partnership Agreement; (2) FoodNet Meta-cluster partners (full members) – clusters represented through cluster organizations, food, logistics and other industry clusters or similar business network organizations; (3) FoodNet Meta-cluster associated members – other organisations and individuals such as R&D organisations, universities, public organisations, policy makers, experts, individual SMEs and large companies which are not members of a particular cluster but clearly support the mission and objectives of the FoodNet Meta-cluster.
During the 1st FoodNet conference organised in Łódź on the 15th November 2018 Memorandum of Understanding for FoodNet Meta-cluster, officially establishing Food in Eco Network Meta-cluster had been signed.
At this moment FoodNet meta-cluster gathers 21 members (5 funding members and 16 associated members from Belgium, Iraq, Latvia, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Spain and Tunisia). Additionally, the Consortium gathered 46 letters of intent from SMEs, clusters and other organisations interested in further cooperation possibilities.
After setting-up of the FoodNet meta-cluster the project consortium had been working intensively on building an internationalisation strategy. With this regard an on-line workshop “The Strategy Impact on target audience” had been organised in May 2019 between the FoodNet members and it was agreed that the FoodNet meta-cluster’s strategic objective is to support the European food sector companies market development and especially internationalisation, which includes identification of external markets, creating favourable paths and preconditions, and provision of knowledge and skills necessary to become globally competitive and perform successfully in the international arena.
The Consortium elaborated also roadmap and marketing recommendations as a key element of internationalisation strategy implementation. The marketing report were meant to propose ideas for unique, niche products and brand proposition including brand development, marketing strategy statement and marketing approach. Whereas the roadmap was aimed at supporting direct implementation and optimisation after the project as well as ensuring sustainability and enhancement of the project results and ensuring impact of methods, tools and good practice on policies and practices around SMEs and cluster effective collaboration and further internationalization.
A very important achievement of the project was also development of a set of training manuals for clusters and companies on internationalisation issues. 7 training modules have been designed in English, Spanish, Polish, Latvian, Romanian and French which are available online on project website.
On November 27th, the final conference of the FoodNet project “How can food and logistics companies work together to conquer new markets?” was held in Liège in Belgium to share the experiences from FoodNet project.