The Wielkopolska FURNITURE DESIGN Cluster is a cluster initiative by representatives of the furniture sector.
The primary goal of the Cluster is to promote the production of furniture through the use of eco friendly lightweight boards. A supporting instrument for this initiative is the development of modern furniture design that follows current trends, is characterized by top quality and originality, and corresponds to regional cultural and scientific values. The indirect goal of the initiative is to reinforce SMEs in the Wielkopolska furniture sector and to nurture entrepreneurs’ interest in network cooperation. The Cluster also strives to promote an innovative and competitive product, to expand market share, and to increase the competitive advantage of its members.

The initiator of the activities undertaken, aimed at intensifying cooperation between furniture industry representatives, was the Wysogotowo – based company METALMEX Sp. J. The experience gained during meetings held by the Wielkopolska Furniture Cluster and the continuous search for innovative solutions to increase the competitive advantage of the company spurred METALMEX to establish cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Poznań. Soon the idea of network cooperation gained the interest of other companies in the furniture sector.

Cluster partners
The Cluster initiative already has the following associated companies related to the furniture industry:

· PPHU METALMEX Sp. J., based in Wysogotowo,
· Przedsiębiorstwo Produkcji Mebli i Aranżacji Wnętrz H&I MEBLE Hanna Ida Kasperowicz, based in Wolsztyn,
· PŁUCIENNIK, a company based in Poznań,
· SPIRAL Sp. z o.o.,
· PPHU ART-STOL Artur Kuźniarek, based in Skórzewo,
· PPHU TAGO Tadeusz Grzegorski, based in Koźmin Wlkp.,
· the ALUMAR Sp. z o.o. consulting company, based in Poznań;

as well as two universities:

· the Department of Furniture Design in the Faculty of Wood Technology at Poznań University of Life Sciences,
· the Faculty of Architecture at the Poznań University of Technology;
· the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Poznań as the Cluster Coordinator.

The agreement for the Wielkopolska FURNITURE DESIGN Cluster was signed on May 26, 2011.

The founding group is represented by:

•    Meble ELMAR – Jerczyńscy Sp. J., based in Jankowy,
•    PW PROSPERO Zenon Rabiega, based in Łęka Mroczeńska,
•    PPHU ARKOS Arkadiusz Pietrus, based in Trębaczów,
•    PPHU TOMPOL Tomasz Pietrus, based in Kępno,
•    Tartacznictwo-Stolarstwo Ewa Rzepa, based in Siedlec,
as well as
•    the Poznań University of Economics.

Background information
The contribution of METALMEX to the “KIGNET INNOVATIONS” projects and “Centre for the Advancement and Support of Enterprise Organizational Innovation –  stimulating collaborative relationships and cooperation between companies” (orig. name “Centrum Promocji i Wsparcia Innowacyjności Organizacyjnej Przedsiębiorstw – stymulowanie relacji kooperacyjnych i współpracy pomiędzy firmami”) (Innovative Economy Operational Programme, Activity 5.2) enabled the promotion and distribution of knowledge regarding network connection activities among collaborating companies, and the acquisition of formal approval for network cooperation.
The joint ventures included, among others, three competition projects: Innovation Leader of Wielkopolska (2011) and Vouchers for Cluster Initiatives (2012 and 2014/2015). Collaborative efforts to fulfil the projects enabled the Cluster to promote its activities, nurture the relationships of its members, and enhance cooperation between companies; whereas the studies undertaken enabled the acquisition of innovative solutions. The results of cooperation between designers in the Architecture Faculty at the Poznań University of Technology, the University of Fine Arts, and the Department of Furniture Design were two innovative projects of kids and teen furniture sets (two furniture design patents being issued by the Polish Patent Office (PPO) based in Warsaw). Studies conducted by the Department of Furniture Design in the Faculty of Wood Technology at the Poznań University of Life Sciences led to the acquisition of innovative construction solutions applicable to the production of furniture through the use of lightweight boards and traditional materials – there are two patent applications pending at the PPO.

Other project activities
The Cluster has participated in international projects as well:

  • SePBEN Cluster/ Professional Association Selection
    (The enhancement of business activity management in economic networks) (2012-2014) – the transfer of innovative methods within the management of professional activities and business stimulation in economic networks; project leader: the Poznań University of Economics.
  • “e-kitchen for digital immigrants in 2030” – an international research project by the Baltic states, cooperating with the Department of Furniture Design at Poznań University of Life Sciences and promoting Cluster member companies on the Project platform (2013-2014).
  • “Internationalization and commercialization of clusters” – an international project, in cooperation with the Poznań University of Economics; project leader: the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Poznań (2014/2015).

Promoting the Cluster’s activities
Information about the Cluster’s activities and results is communicated electronically to furniture companies, partner organizations and institutions, as well as during meetings and conferences organized by the Cluster and its partners. The Cluster’s identity is additionally enhanced by the publication of articles and information via the media and Internet portals:

• The “ECHO” magazine about the Wielkopolska economic environment; the specialist press
• Multichannel digital information distribution via:

Expert reports and the organisation of meetings will make it possible to streamline the execution of planned activities and to propagate the Cluster’s programme among the Wielkopolska Cluster Member Enterprises. Moreover, this will enable knowledge transfer, environmental integration, as well as the exchange of experience and best practice. The opportunity to expand knowledge within the areas of organization, management and financing cooperative networks, as well as internal activities including process and structural aspects, will allow Cluster members and companies interested in collaboration to access free innovative counselling services (de minimis aid) that are part of projects executed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Conjointly developed innovative furniture design will become an asset in the increasingly demanding and competitive environment of furniture producers. This innovative and distinctive Wielkopolska region-inspired design of furniture is meant to enhance the identity of the specific Cluster, its members and the entire regional furniture sector.
The ventures planned by member enterprises, enhanced by mutually complementary competencies and in cooperation with universities and industry specialists (studies and expert reports), will increase opportunities for innovation as well as accelerate the dissemination of new technologies and their implementation at the production level.
A common vision, the development of joint marketing strategies and innovative solutions are going to indirectly contribute to the enhancement of the furniture sector’s identity and, thanks to their nature, increase domestic and international sales opportunities. Presenting best practice along with innovative solutions is beneficial for every entrepreneur striving to develop creativity and gain a competitive advantage. Best practice is a great motivator. The enhancement of the furniture sector’s identity also serves to promote our region, whereas the innovations that are implemented are part of the Regional Innovation Strategy.
We look forward to fruitful cooperation!