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Promoting and linking Wood Industry and Research in Romanian Regions using good practice from acknowledged wood clusters in the EU

Final Report Summary - PRO-WOOD (Promoting and linking Wood Industry and Research in Romanian Regions using good practice from acknowledged wood clusters in the EU)

A fact finding analysis at the beginning of the project gave a good insight into the needs of the wood sector in the target region. The main findings were:
- Weak cooperation between research and business
- Low cooperation within the wood sector at all
- Weak web presence of companies
- Lack of qualified staff in marketing/public relation issues
- Poor collaboration between vocational schools and business
- Vocational training does not meet the needs of the market
- No awareness for the advantages of research activities.

In order to address these findings the team of PRO WOOD invited experts and stakeholders in Brasov/Covasna and elaborated activities to meet the problems addressed in the fact finding analysis.

1. Organisation of a competition between pupils in order to attract pupils for working with wood
2. Two training seminars on funding programmes and successful proposal writing
3. Company visits to schools to introduce the wood sector to the future generation
4. Six customised advisories for companies
5. Generation of a thematic working group, where topics of interest (e.g. technical issues) were discussed
6. Spread information on operation safety for the target group
7. Training seminars about e-commerce and marketing
8. Support KO-FO (the wood department within ASIMCOV) to built up a sales and marketing department
9. Improve the web presence of KO-FA
10. Organise the share of know how and machinery within the wood sector in Brasov and Covasna
11. Organise a workshop on the following technical issue: 'Increase the efficiency and performance of woodworking companies'.

With regard to the main results we would like to mirror the four main objectives of PRO WOOD with the results achieved.

1. Establish an infrastructure for regular cooperation between the stakeholders of the wood sector in Brasov-Covasna.
Result: On 19 April 2010, at the final dissemination conference of PRO WOOD, 17 regional stakeholders of the wood industry in Brasov and Covasna signed a formal cluster-forming agreement. In this agreement a list of objectives and future activities is fixed, a management board is established and regular meetings are foreseen.
2. Trigger and increase the role of R&D within the future cluster work.
Result: The collaboration of research institutions with all other parts of the wood sector in Brasov and Covasna is one objective of the cluster agreement. In addition to that two seminars on FP7 and other funding opportunities for research activities have been conducted within PRO WOOD.
3 Formulate a vision for the wood cluster, which indicates objectives and measurable results.
Result: The cluster forming agreement states on the first page the vision for the future of PRO WOOD: 'The aim of this agreement is to harmonise and to represent the companies' interest; to increase the competitiveness by joint participation on retail markets; to help the professional improvement of the managers and employees; to create and manage a common database; collaboration with the institutions, local authorities, research institutions and educational bodies; collaboration with other national or international clusters.'
4. Release a web-based network platform.
Result: One activity within PRO WOOD was the improvement of the current online services of the wood association KO-FA for the wood sector. By means of workshops and round table meetings with the target group, a concept to improve the online services has been designed.

The main impact of PRO WOOD is the establishment of a formal cluster with 17 partners of the wood sector in Brasov and Covasna. This result has exceeded the original objective of PRO WOOD. The project has managed to structure existing cluster elements and to intensify the cooperation of all stakeholders in the sector. It aroused awareness for the concept and the advantages of cooperation. Beside this PRO WOOD is regarded as a model project for the national cluster policy of Romania.