innovation & technology
interview with pål hafstad thorsen, ceo, western norway cluster of sports
We asked Pål Hafstad Thorsen, CEO of Idrettsklynge Vest (translated as: Western Norway Cluster of Sports), to tell us more about the objectives, achievements and lessons learned from this sports cluster project in the city of Bergen, Norway.
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What is the Western Norway Cluster of Sports and its objectives?
Western Norway Cluster of Sports is a collection of eight large organisations in Western Norway that collaborate and strengthen cooperation around sports, physical activity and public health in Bergen and Vestlandet. We are a catalyst for interaction and provide meeting places that ensure continuous information exchange, knowledge dissemination and development across disciplines, organisations and projects.
How did the idea come about, what were your inspirations and what needs does this cluster meet?
The idea came up in dialogue between the sports movement and public authorities in 2015. Visionary sports leaders and politicians. The aim was to gather expertise on research, sport, nutrition and exercise. They had the vision of creating a unifying hub for both grassroots and elite sports. Today, it is an important hub precisely for this, but also much more.
Why might a city create this kind of cluster? What have been the benefits for the city of Bergen so far?
The ambition for Bergen as a city is that the cluster contributes to increasing the need for the city to gather expertise across disciplines and organisations in order to strengthen the basic services offered to citizens. By creating and sharing together, we achieve more together. There is strength in interaction.
Could you share with us one or two successful initiatives resulting from the collaborative approach adopted by the cluster members?
It ihas resulted in better cooperation between the municipality, county and state. At the same time as the education sector, the health sector and the sports movement are getting closer to the decision-makers. One initiative is to integrate children and youngsters with chronicle diseases and extraordinary needs into physical activity and sports in their own local environment. Another initiative is that the cluster has recently received financial support to establish a national competence centre for gaming and e-sports. Through the network in the cluster. people and organisations have gathered around joint projects that will bring great value to all involved.
What lessons have you learned? What would you change and what recommendations would you give to the member cities of the smartcities & sport network interested in starting similar clusters?
Be ambitious! But, establish a common basic understanding of what the cluster consists of, and what is required for organisation, collaboration and how to strengthen cooperation between people and organisations. Which areas of society and work tasks should the cluster prioritise? Make sure you have a clear vision and purpose. At the same time, be open to changes along the way and align them with the original ambitions.