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 Menara Cluster, Morocco
Introduce your cluster, its objective, the industry it works in and the type of companies it gathers.
The MENARA Cluster is a Moroccan professional association founded in 2012 with the ambition to consolidate and improve the competitiveness of the Moroccan cosmetics and agri-food industry in the national and international markets via a triple dynamic:
- Creation of value at the local level through the implementation of synergies between all the actors of the two sectors,
- Recruitment and incubation of start-ups, researchers, companies, and international investors.
- Support for Moroccan companies to conquer international markets,
The Menara Cluster is specialized in the luxury industry (agri-food and cosmetics), it has around a hundred members between industries, research centers, universities, and state institutions. The Menara Cluster is labeled by the Moroccan Ministry of Industry as part of its support program for the creation and development of industrial clusters.
The lever for action of the Menara Cluster is networking, which generates the signing of partnerships with different types of national and international structures. This dynamic makes it possible to strengthen the capacity for innovation for all its members.
- Facilitate collaboration between the members of our cluster,
- develop the visibility of the Cluster Menara in global markets to increase the attractiveness of the Moroccan territory towards national and international investments.
- We also Promote innovation in the food and cosmetic industries; Incubate innovative startups;
Our vision is to work in a network to promote good practices, synergies, and the performance of companies. It is the sine qua none condition for continuous sectoral innovation.
What has been the impact of your cluster on the industry it works in?
Our impact on SMEs, VSEs, and large companies essentially involves facilitating their access to new national and international markets through the organization of trade fairs which will enable them to ensure better visibility as well as access to new performance practices, new technologies, and trends and to boost their innovation.
Also, the Menara Cluster was pleased to announce the launch of the “Marrakech, Health & Beauty Valley” the first international congress of the Menara Cluster on January 25 and 26, 2019 in Marrakech under the theme: “Valorization of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, international market & local resources” This ecosystem aims to develop an industry of products based on aromatic and medicinal plants (MAP) with high added value in the Marrakech-Safi Region.
For startups, we are labeled by Innov Idea; a program that was launched in 2018 to help entrepreneurs and startups who have an innovative idea to grant them funding that is between €10,000 and €20,000.
What is the importance of your cluster in particular and creating clusters in general to your country?
To strengthen the competitiveness of the Moroccan economy at the regional and international level, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and New Technologies launched in June 2009 the “Initiative Maroc Innovation” to position Morocco as a producer of technologies and innovative projects innovative. In this context, the territorial component has become increasingly important and above all impossible to neglect. Economic recovery and the development of competitiveness and innovation involve strengthening regional competitiveness. The development of modes of cooperation within territories and in sectors with high innovation potential allows the dissemination of positive externalities and technological spillovers. Thus, Morocco has developed, through economic and industrial policies, a strategy for supporting and labeling clusters to create ecosystems conducive to a cross-fertilization of innovation and skills.
We are considered the leading agri-food and cosmetics cluster, two sectors that have become increasingly attractive and which occupy a strategic place in the Moroccan economy.
What are the main advantages that companies receive from being in your cluster?
The cluster offers activities as diverse as they are varied to its members, namely training sessions according to the needs of companies, mentoring, and participation in trade fairs to open up to international markets.
More than that, the cluster’s project CAIAC “ the African Center for Agrifood and Cosmetic Innovations ” helps large companies, SMEs, VSEs, and startups to prototype their ideas by providing them with a well-equipped center and a well-trained team that is always ready to listen.
CAIAC exists to bring inspiration and innovation to every project, our goal is to bring out your true creative potential, and to guarantee the authenticity of the products by enhancing our Moroccan terroir, in an innovative framework and industrial competitiveness.
Clients trust us to build meaningful experiences and we take that seriously. Our team overcomes obstacles, finds solutions, and delivers exceptional results.
- Operator in the creation of companies and industrial jobs in the region of Marrakech Safi.
- A key player in R&D: Improvement, Innovation, Optimization.
- Training center for professionals and upgrading of technical skills.
- Partner of higher education by providing technical means.
- Project Technical Feasibility Assessment Body.
- Technology transfer platform for the benefit of Moroccan and African companies.
- Facilitator of collaborations between the university and professionals.
What are the main challenges you face while achieving your main objective?
Among the challenges we had to face, in 2012-2013, companies lacked confidence in setting up the cluster, to this end we had to develop our notoriety, and our confidentiality and have an ecosystem favorable to our future member companies.
Today, we have become more mature and new companies easily trust us, but there remains the challenge of not being financially independent since we are limited by the amount granted by the Ministry of Industry, which hinders us from growing much more and achieving our goals and ambitions.
What kind of support do you wish to receive in the future?
We aim to develop incubation programs for startups. So far, we have been labeled by the central guarantee fund as part of the Innov Idea program which finances up to €20000 per Startup as well as individualized support for start-ups. But we also have the ambition to launch support programs for all phases (pre-incubation-incubation-acceleration).
More than that, since we are the only cluster in the two sectors of agri-food and luxury cosmetics, we see that it is necessary to reference ourselves and to remain on standby to always bring and be informed of new improvements and cluster trends.
We aim to make our cluster adaptable internationally by adopting a strategy to digitize our activities either internally or externally to facilitate interaction and networking nationally and internationally and to become more performance, flexible and efficient.
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.