Building on THE NEXT SOCIETY project, Berytech, in partnership with Anima Investment Network, launched the ‘Scale-up voucher for Clusters’ project offering a technical assistance voucher to assist regional clusters in developing their growth strategy and expanding business opportunities for their cluster members.
Six clusters were selected from the Mediterranean region, Tunisia, Morocco & Lebanon, to benefit from this opportunity based on their mission, track records, growth plan, and milestones.
Berytech has created a series of interviews with the six clusters to learn more about their work, the success they have had in building an impactful cluster and the challenges they face.
Meet CE3M Cluster, Morocco
Introduce your cluster, its objective, the industry it works in, and the type of companies it gathers.
The CE3M cluster was created in 2010, and its mission is to develop innovative products made in Morocco, for the energy, mobility, medical and aeronautics sectors.
Within its service offering, the cluster supports innovative projects, by identifying the technologies necessary for their implementation and assisting with project management. We support funding needs and help our members find funds depending on the projects.
We also support business development, participation in international fairs and networking, and connections with national and international donors.
What has been the impact of your cluster on the industry it works in?
The CE3M cluster gathers more than 110 members: +90 SMEs, 10 universities and engineering schools, 6 Associations, and 4 Large companies. So far we have created more than 40 collaborative projects, supported more than 60 startups, and helped launch to the world more than 40 innovative products made in Morocco. We have created a mechanical and electronic prototyping platform and opened a tech center for incubation and hosting startups and project leaders. We have a network of partners covering around ten countries, and a regular presence at major industrial meetings in the four corners of the world, in particular CES Las Vegas, Productronica Germany, Global industries, etc.
What is the importance of your cluster in particular and creating clusters in general to your country?
The CE3M contributes to the structuring of the electronics sector in Morocco. Among the structuring actions we took are:
- Completing the value chain with missing technological bricks by attracting complementary and ancillary investments (fine sheet metal, wire winding, electronic engineering, precision foundry, electronic prototyping).
- Stimulating collaborative work between SMEs among themselves and between SMEs and the academic world.
- Solving component supply problems for the sector by pooling purchases.
- Boosting innovation in the sector by setting up prototyping resources.
- Giving the sector international visibility and a strong image, by supporting it on global innovation platforms.
For Morocco, clusters contribute to the consolidation of an innovation ecosystem, including innovative companies, project leaders, universities, technical centers, and funding organizations.
They allow in the medium term to position Morocco in the club of technology-producing countries and contribute to the emergence of an economy with high added value. Clusters also strengthen the image of Morocco at the international level and its attractiveness for investments.
The objective of the creation of clusters is to allow the emergence of innovative market-oriented projects and to support companies and proactive actors to form high-level clusters.
For Morocco, clusters are an effective way of generating collaborative projects with high innovative content, through their local actions, consisting of:
- Bring together the actors (companies, training centers, and research units) around collaborative projects with high R&D content in specific niches and themes
- Create a technological environment and synergies favorable to the development of R&D and innovation projects and the emergence of innovative startups
- Promote a dynamic of progress allowing the companies of the cluster to become more competitive, develop, and conquer international market shares in their fields.
What are the main advantages that companies receive from being in your cluster?
Companies receive priority involvement in CE3M collaborative projects, research opportunities for subcontracting and partnership, and transfer of know-how and technology, identified by the CE3M (CE3M network, exhibitions, partner reception, company visits). The cluster promotes their know-how and production capacities with national and international contractors and gives them representation at trade fairs in which CE3M participates. Companies benefit from collective training, assistance, and support actions with priority and differentiated prices for shared platforms and visibility on all CE3M channels.
What are the main challenges you face while achieving your main objective?
We have 4 challenges to overcome:
- The increase in the share of self-financing of the Cluster, since public funding is decreasing. To do this, we have developed value-added services, such as prototyping services, with the acquisition of adequate equipment or the diversification of partnerships with other donors, other than the Ministry of Industry: Tamwilcom, German Cooperation, Maroc PME.
- Faced with the shortage of components and the disruption of the supply chain at the global level, we directed the activities of our SMEs & startups on the challenges of import substitution. We have in this respect obtained the labeling of Maroc PME, to benefit from state support to increase import substitution projects.
- Faced with difficulties in the movement of goods and people, we are valuing and deploying technological innovations in the industrial sectors and the national markets of local contractors. We have carried out several pilot operations with the national electricity office and the railway office.
- With opportunities in the sectors that have emerged with the Covid pandemic, in particular the health sector, we have, with our partners, initiated a cluster of medical industries, with which we are developing initiatives to bring out a local industry of medical devices, as well as an industry 4.0 cluster has emerged under the impetus of certain CE3M administrators while other initiatives are underway.
What kind of support do you wish to receive in the future?
Even if Morocco is honorably positioned in Africa, in terms of a proactive cluster development policy, with around fifteen clusters, in different themes, international cooperation with our European partners gives us an additional dimension and offers increased development opportunities in particular, through:
- Partnerships with clusters working on the same themes,
- Exchange of best practices,
- Organization of common actions (events, workshops,)
- Work together on the challenges and issues facing Africa (health, transport, sustainable development, water, etc.)
We need to participate in European projects, such as Horizon Europe, to confront the challenges of collaborative work with our partners, Clusters of Europe, and benefit from the financial support granted by these programs.
We also need to participate in the various events, b2b meetings with our European counterparts to identify opportunities for cooperation and business, and would like the Techdays to be renewed and organized alternately on both shores of the Mediterranean (North and South)
We also hope that the various European programs consider the Maroc Cluster network as a privileged partner and a gateway for cooperation with Moroccan clusters.
We were proud to have participated in the Next Society Program, which allowed us, among other things, to exchange good practices, and strengthen our operational skills, we would like for a future program, to progress in the work on concrete projects, inter clusters, business-oriented, to take advantage of the range of skills of the different clusters. We can count on the Morocco Cluster association which brings together all Moroccan clusters and represents all industrial sectors to bring out projects for the benefit of our continent, Africa, and the future of Europe, in this uncertain geopolitical context.
THE NEXT SOCIETY is an open community of change-makers, entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, NGOs, public and private innovation, research, and economic development hubs from Europe and 7 Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. It aims at mobilizing, promoting, and reinforcing innovation ecosystems and economic development in the MENA region.