SICD has developed during a close cooperation with universities and other actors in East Africa, Bolivia and later West Africa. The cooperation activities are focused on cluster and innovation system development including research components and sponsored by Sida and VINNOVA.  The story is briefly presented as follows.

Innovation Systems and Clusters Programme in Eastern Africa (ISCP-EA)
The Innovation Systems and Cluster Programme in/for Eastern Africa (ISCP-EA) was a university led regional programme, which started in 2004 and implemented collaboratively in three Eastern African states, namely Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. It was coordinated and spearheaded in each of the three countries by respective Faculties of Engineering/Technology of the Universities of Eduardo Mondlane, Dar es Salaam and Makerere. The main objective was to stimulate, catalyse and promote the development of innovation systems and innovative clusters in Eastern Africa, and thereby facilitate speedy socio-economic development and poverty reduction. The programme enabled the universities to fulfil their mandate of reaching out and impacting on societal development by stimulating, catalysing and promoting generation of solutions to solve problems that confront their respective societies instead of remaining as ‘ivory towers’.

The actual start was in September 2003 when ten Eastern Africans from Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique attended the 6th Global Conference on “Innovative Clusters: A new Challenge”, which was jointly organized by The Competitive Institute (TCI) and the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA), in Gothenburg, Sweden. The focus of the conference was on the development of methodologies and policies for building innovative clusters and innovation systems. The ten (10) Eastern Africans, who were sponsored by Sida, represented the three main triple helix constituents of the national innovation systems in their respective countries led by the academia at the College of Engineering and Technology of the University of Dar es Salaam, Faculty of Technology of Makerere University, and Faculty of Engineering of the University of Eduardo Mondlane.

The Gothenburg conference inspired the participants from Eastern African so much that they requested Sida to sponsor the organization of a replica of the conference for Eastern Africa. The request was granted by Sida and the conference gave birth to the Innovation Systems and Cluster Programme in/for Eastern Africa (ISCP-EA).

Pan-African Competitiveness Forum (PACF)
It is the successful implementation of ISCP-EA that have inspired the establishment of Pan African Competitiveness Forum (PACF). PACF was launched on April 16, 2008 as a new continent-wide competence and action centre for innovation and cluster based competitiveness initiatives for national and regional economic development in Africa.

The establishment of PACF was prompted by the desire to see Africa develop sustainably and achieve the Millennium Development Goals within the foreseeable future. It is the desire to see Africa integrated into the global economy not as a mere provider of raw materials/products rather as a competent competitor in export of value added products and services. Practice show that clustering almost always enhances value-addition and the competitiveness of the businesses operating in clusters.

PACF Regional Chapters include ECOWAS, PACF Central Africa, PACF Northern Africa, PaCF Eastern Africa and PACF Southern Africa.

SICD has cooperated with two innovation programs one driven by Universidad Mayor de San Simon (UMSS) in Cochabamba and one by Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) in La Paz. The following background presentation has a perspective formulated by UMSS.

In the year 2007 the Institutional Capacity Strengthening Programme was created at Universidad Major de San Simon (UMSS) Cochabamba, in order to participate in innovating processes with support from the research department of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida/SAREC) in collaboration with the The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA).

The objective of the program is to encourage the active participation of the university in an opening attitude to the local environment and the construction of strategic alliances with the productive and governmental sector. This program strengthens the active participation of UMSS in regional and national initiatives supporting a productive system and a start of a national innovation system. The Technology Transfer Unit (UTT) of Faculty of Science and Technology (FCyT) at UMSS is the operational unit for the program and promotes the creation of industrial related clusters in the city of Cochabamba.

With this program UMSS plays an important regional role according to national initiative of creating a Bolivian Innovation System, promoted by the Vice Ministry of Science and Technology. It also supports the productive system with a Productive Service Platform, an initiative promoted by the regional Government.

In this manner during 2008 the food and the leather clusters were created, both sectors with a long tradition in the department of Cochabamba. These clusters were formed under the UMSS initiative, based on the Triple Helix model, through specific workshops for each sector in which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities were evaluated and a vision was created in order to guide the actions of each cluster in a long term perspective.

The Food Cluster is conformed actively by about 40 companies of the food sector, representatives of the Economic Development Unit of the City Hall, representatives of the Productive Development Secretary of the Regional Government, Department Competitive Council (CDC), the Small Industry Chamber and Craftsmanship (CADEPIA), researchers of 6 research centers of the FCyT at UMSS and 2 facilitators.

The Leather Cluster is conformed actively by about 45 companies of the leather sector  including tannery, leather goods and shoemaking industries, representatives of the Economic Development Unit of the City Hall, representatives of the Productive Development Secretary of the Regional Government, Department Competitive Council (CDC), the Small Industry Chamber and Craftsmanship (CADEPIA), researchers of 3 research centers of the FCyT at UMSS and 2 facilitators.

The executed activities are focused on the following main strategic lines:

  • Cluster formation.
  • Skills training.
  • Innovation and technology development.
  • Commercial cooperation.
  • PhD program.
  • Master program.
  • The creation of action policies.

Swedish Cooperating Partner
Long term sustainable support to the development programme presented above was given by an international team of four persons, drawing on expertise from Sweden (VINNOVA and Blekinge Institute of Technology) and New Zealand (Cluster Navigators Ltd) financially supported by Sida/SAREC. Later on new and other expertise was recruited.

The establishment of a more coherent cooperation among the Scandinavian stakeholders from the triple helix as well as representing foreign aid and cooperation, cluster practitioners, innovation promotion was raised in 2008 for many reasons. A network platform was thus established at Blekinge Institute of Technology called SICD. The timeline of location of SICD is given in the list below.

The host organizations of SICD
2004 – 2008: VINNOVA
2008 – 2015: Blekinge Institute of Technology (BTH), Research division of Technoscience Studies, Campus Karlshamn, Sweden.
2015 – 2016: Lund University, LU Open
2016 – : Lund University, Centre for Innovation Research (CIRCLE), Sweden. This is the SICD-LU hub
From 2017 there is in addition a SICD-SH hub at Södertörn University, The School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Stockholm, Sweden.

The supporting and collaborating functions of SICD have developed as a result of the long and solid interaction between Swedish, African and Bolivian actors and partners concerned.