In 2004, drawing its inspiration from foreign experiences and recommendations expressed in a number of reports, the French government decided on a new departure in industrial policy, setting up competitiveness hubs across the national territory. Four years after the launch of this policy, how do matters stand with it?
Thierry Weil and Stéphanie Fen Chong from the Observatoire des pôles de compétitivité (Competitiveness Hubs Observatory) recall here the genesis of the competitiveness hubs (the precursor systems, founding reports, specifications adopted, interplay between the actors, and emergence of the hubs). They then present the first lessons arising out of the development of these hubs, particularly focusing on the operation of projects, steering and finance, and the failings and inconsistencies observed. In this connection, they stress the difficulty of making an assessment at this stage: the hubs are still young, and premature evaluations may do a disservice to projects that are, in fact, essential. Lastly, they ask how this industrial dynamic can be maintained. In their view, this involves stimulating learning on the part of the various actors concerned and, once again, a long-term vision not focussed solely on the initial outcomes observed.