In order to achieve their goals, MSE Cluster has joined international cooperation projects to learn from its partners and transfer the knowledge towards cluster members.
MSE Cluster Ltd. is the single sport cluster in Hungary gathering 33 members from the region and beyond. MSE Cluster was established in May 2011 with the aim of improving and fostering innovative cooperation between SMEs, education institutes, public organizations and coordinating and exploiting possibilities in sport economy.
In order to achieve the above mentioned goals MSE Cluster has joined international cooperation projects to learn from its partners and transfer the knowledge towards cluster members.
MSE Cluster has joined the European Platform for Sport Innovation (EPSI) so as to be part of the lobbying, fundraising and business creation activities that are the main activities of EPSI. MSE Cluster is also part of the ClusSport collaboration in order to exploit international cooperation possibilities in sport. Since 2018 MSE Cluster has been participating in the Inno4Sports project, the aim of which is that partners improve their policy instruments to enhance sport economy in the region, as well as to learn about good practices implemented in the other partners’ countries. The latest interregional cooperation is the SmartSports4GoodLife (SS4GL) project, which gathers clusters to improve their strategies and services by learning from each other.
Improved cluster strategy
The SmartSports4GoodLife project has given a chance to MSE Cluster to revise its current strategy (Strategy of the Hungarian Sport and Lifestyle Development Cluster 2017-2020), which defines the focus areas of the cluster:
- Development of education: to establish new, innovative areas in higher education to ensure appropriate human resource supply for the sport industry.
- Research & Development: sport-specific applied research activities based on academic fundamental research and the results of research activities of health and food industry clusters operating in the region.
- Diagnostic and health care services: MSE Cluster operates the Sports Diagnostics, Lifestyle and Therapy Centre (SET) in Debrecen, which provides complex services to professional and amateur sportsmen and sportswomen from childhood to adulthood; from screening to helping clients choosing the appropriate type of sport, health check and monitoring, as well.
- Industrial Development: The members of the cluster in cooperation with the University of Debrecen decided to implement research and development activities to develop food and food-supplements for athletes.
In the SS4GL project the Cluster management analysed the needs of their members as a first step towards an improved strategy, and the impact of COVID-19 on their performance both financially and operationally. Moreover, the Cluster identified their learning needs in the project. MSE Cluster would like to improve their operation in all areas, like governance, member management, communication, cluster services, intelligence and training; so they are really keen to improve their operation and services.
MSE Cluster transforms information collected in the project into actions that will improve cluster services in the future in the long and short term as well. The most relevant and important new or improved services will be the following:
- monthly e-newsletter: to maintain continuous contact with the members
- searching new members: to diversify cluster members and increase the number of SMEs
- regular trainings/events: at least 3-4 events in a year focusing one specific topic, offering counselling services for cluster members
- project development: to involve cluster members into new projects at national and international level
- common brand: using a common brand/logo would ensure additional visibility for members
- intense cooperation with the University of Debrecen in research projects: launching a mentor programme, offering research cluster programmes for members, the University would procure trainees, who could work at cluster members
- ensuring the cooperation between cluster members, and between members and the management team, development of an incentive system: continuous need analyses among members, offering each other’s services to each other, put members on the ‘sportmap’, providing market analyses for members, developing service packages for members (both in type and the level of involvement)
- new website: a newly structured website that serves the interest of the members in an efficient way, and it will include every new information regarding cluster operation.
Impact of COVID-19 on the cluster and its members
COVID-19 caused only limited loss for the members of the MSE Cluster on average. Only a few of the members had to apply layoffs. They had to cut back on expenses, mainly on wage costs and the operation of facilities. New and improved services could help members to handle difficulties, especially if the pandemic continued.