Synergy : the key to PACA Logistics Cluster in the Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur region

France's leading port, Marseille Fos, is among the members of the cluster.

Since its creation more than six years ago, the PACA Logistics Cluster has worked to mobilize key players involved in the logistics and transportation sector in the Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur region of France.

The PACA Logistics Cluster today boasts some 70 members, the majority of which are companies. They include transportation firms, infrastructure management companies, equipment suppliers, and warehousing and distribution companies. Two professional associations that represent more than 250 other companies also are members.

France’s leading port, Marseille Fos, a diversified port that handles some 80 million tonnes of cargo annually, Wilhelmsen Ships Service, a provider of products and services to the maritime industry, global multimodal provider Geodis, and global logistics service provider Katoen Natie are among the members of the cluster.

The PACA Logistics cluster brings together public and private, local and national stakeholders whose activities or expertise contribute to the region’s logistics sector, and/or who are involved in cluster’s strategic field of activity: companies that are part of the logistics chain or offer related services; training and research bodies; and institutions and local authorities.

The PACA Logistics Cluster is a not-for-profit association whose activities are financed by subsidies, contracts and membership fees.

Isabelle Bardin, executive director of the PACA
Logistics Cluster

A neutral setting

“The association provides a neutral setting for the establishment of relationships and dialogue, and for work and coordinating efforts, and serves as a resource centre for the benefit of public and private stakeholders on all matters related to the logistics sector, for companies as well as for the region,” said Isabelle Bardin, executive director of the PACA Logistics Cluster.

“Our expertise is renowned – and sought after – in fields such as space management, urban logistics, modal shifts, collaborative supply chain practices, etc. Among other things, we are very active in promoting the strengths of the region and its players internationally, always with a willingness to encourage the development of partnerships and exchanges between regions.

“As a leader and a catalyst, we foster the creation, the promotion and the implementation of organizational and technological innovation, and best practices within territorial or specialized logistical ecosystems such as urban logistics or real property.”

Action plan

The association based its action plan on the needs expressed by its members and partners. “Logistics involves a multitude of private stakeholders that form a complex value chain, and its interdependence with its host region, which is managed by public decision-makers, is very strong,” Ms. Bardin said. “It’s also an industry that is in perpetual motion, and one that is not very well known.

“Taking into account all of these elements, a neutral structure of dialogue and information-sharing between public and private entities that would bring together companies, training and research institutions, and public bodies for greater competitivity and economic and territorial efficiency made sense.”

2 missions in synergy

The major challenges for the region and the sector are most notably in the areas
of urban logistics, land availability and modal shifts.

Its two missions, which work in hand-in-hand, are to strengthen and develop activity for companies in the logistics sector through networking, international support, innovation and the integration of best practices, and to create synergy between logistics and the region for PACA’s sustainable development.

“Our philosophy is that logistics is a condition for regional development,” Ms. Bardin said. “In return, the region’s ecosystem shapes and drives logistical activity. Therefore, a cluster that wants to contribute to the maintenance and strengthening of activity for logistics companies must work towards better promotion of logistics in the development of the region and create public and private synergies.”

Ms. Bardin said the major challenges for the region and the sector are most notably in the areas of urban logistics, land availability and modal shifts. “The cluster must therefore find the right tools to help economic and political stakeholders to better cooperate and innovate in order to give the territory and its players sustainable technological and organizational advances in this sector, where there is such great potential, and stimulate the creation of added value,” she said.

A practical difficulty for the not-for-profit association is that financing must be balanced between public and private resources. “The fact that we do a great deal of our work on subjects of general interest, where companies see returns only in the medium to long term, means that it is sometimes difficult to mobilize companies, notably small and medium-sized businesses, on these subjects, particularly within the context of an economic crisis,” Ms. Bardin said.

“Also, as very small organization, we must work within our means and are sometimes forced to choose from among many projects that are deemed strategic, in order to complete them and provide real added value, while leaving some others on the backburner. But that also encourages us to be extremely productive in order to make the very most of our time and the money at our disposal and to position ourselves as a resource centre for other bodies.”

For further information about Cluster PACA Logistique