Mesopartner @ Work

December 2016

LRED in fragile and refugee contexts: Mesopartner moderated GIZ Conference

Mesopartner is well known for its expertise in local and regional economic development (LRED) and the design of implementation- and competitiveness-oriented methodologies and bottom-up initiatives. In December, the GIZ headquarters in Eschborn organized a Conference on the role of LRED in fragile and refugee contexts. The event itself was facilitated and moderated by Frank Waeltring from Mesopartner. After plenary discussions and inputs from GIZ, ILO, and Mercy Corps, small break-out sessions with practitioners provided the chance to exchange about experiences, opportunities, risks and requirements for LRED in such complex environments. One of the key learnings of the event was that acting in fragile and refugee contexts requires a much more flexible and explorative approach to LRED. While traditional LRED methodologies can help to overcome rather simple issues (e.g. infrastructure development, set-up of funding schemes etc.), more complex and network-driven initiatives in these unstable environments will require more space for exploration. Safe to fail experiments will play an important role in this regard. The latter provide the opportunity to better understand the local power- and system relations, to test the boundaries of what is possible as well as to start acting with small initiatives that do no harm but can be scaled up once they find the right support by the relevant local stakeholders.  

Mesopartner is currently writing a short Conference paper to document the findings and to provide a conceptual framework in this respect.  

Business skills demand assessment in the Tanzanian Service Sector: Matching Industry Demand with Training Supply

Training students in hotel management, catering and food processing within vocational institutes is relatively easy. Doing this in a way that matches the demand of the industry is a challenge. Mesopartner did a skills needs assessment in the service sector in Tanzania. Based on more than 20 interviews with businesses in the catering-, cleaning-, transport- and security sectors, demands for specific skills trainings were identified. 

Many developing countries face the challenge of providing more demand-driven skills. The GIZ and its East African oriented SOGA program promotes value chains that can directly benefit from the expected oil and gas boom in the region. The service sectors mentioned above already have benefited from infrastructure investments and from increasing influx of investors. But the growth of these services also requires a higher number of skilled workers as well as input products.  By promoting new short term courses and matching initiatives, the GIZ seeks to provide targeted support to make sure that local people benefit from the new emerging economic market and income opportunities. The potentials are huge. If they are not used locally, products, quality and people will come from Kenya and other countries leaving Tanzanian people without further benefits.

The Mesopartner Team participated in the 19th TCI Global Conference in Eindhoven, Netherlands, from 8 to 10 November

Marcus Jenal, Shawn Cunningham, Frank Waeltring, Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke

Around 400 cluster managers, policy makers and researchers gathered to discuss the challenges for innovation clusters.

The local hosts were Brainport, a development agency leading the structural change in Eindhoven Region, and Wageningen University, a leader in agro-industry research. Both combined in a complementary way the economic reality of this densely populated and intensively used area, which highly competitive in different so called "top sectors".

The conference started with a study tour day. Our Mesopartner team split off and joined two tours: the Agrifood tour and the High Tech tour.

Both tours illustrated the pragmatic and highly innovative approach of collaboration in the Netherlands. We saw a great openness to break up and recombine products, inputs and processes and an extremely productive synergy of scientific research and commercial spirit.

Ulli, Frank, Marcus, and Shawn all made presentations during the Working Day of the conference, and Mesopartner actively participated in many other sessions and work streams during the conference.

Shawn presented on how knowledge in clusters can be leveraged for innovation:

Frank presented on change in cities and spaces

Mesopartner´s 10th Year Master Class Anniversary at Hanoi University of Technology

During the last 10 years Mesopartner provided annually a Seminar in Hanoi at the International Masters Course of Small Enterprise Development (SEPT) of the University of Leipzig. "Local and Regional Economic Development and Competitiveness” is the topic at the Hanoi University of Technology. 14 Vietnamese students took part in the seminar in November 2016. It will be the last class in Hanoi given by Frank Waeltring. It is time to hand it over to other colleagues and to discover new ground. Frank will continue teaching at the University in Leipzig and at the Jacobs-University Bremen on topics like Innovation Economics, Development Economics and the Promotion of Local and Regional Innovation Systems.  Thanks to the colleagues from SEPT for the opportunity to work with you over these years in Hanoi and Ho-Chi Minh-City.

Tourism Value Chain Analysis in Myeik, Myanmar

November 2016

Myanmar is currently facing a rapid increase in tourist arrivals, which has the potential to create significant positive impacts on job creation and poverty reduction.  However, some of Myanmar’s primary tourist sites like Bagan or Inle Lake are already under environmental and social pressure from the effects of tourism, which is affecting the livelihoods of local inhabitants and long-term viability of these places as tourism destinations. Myeik and the pristine Mergui archipelago in the far South of the country still have the chance to go a more sustainable way when developing the tourism business. After having conducted rapid, participatory tourism value chain assessments (VCA) in the beach resorts Chaung Thar and Ngwe Saung (2014), Bagan (2015) and Kyaing Ton (2015), the ILO Tourism Entrepreneurship Program in Myanmar (funded by SECO) in coordination with the Myanmar Tourism Federation selected Myeik as the next destination to be analysed in November 2016. Like in previous tourism VCAs, Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) was engaged as lead consultant to facilitate the process and guide a team of local consultants and stakeholders through the assessment. The research methodology applied is a rapid, participatory tourism value chain and market system analysis approach, which allows for assessing economic growth potential of the tourism sector and its sub-sectors, providing strategies to overcome obstacles and tap into potential, and bringing local stakeholders together in a joint effort to strengthen the tourism sector. The VCA team has identified 14 proposals for action that address the kind of support that tourism companies and potential entrepreneurs need directly or indirectly to develop their entrepreneurship potential and become competitive in a sustainable way. The ILO will monitor implementation closely and will support activities that are related to business management and entrepreneurship training.

Assessing the Regional Management approach of GIZ in Cambodia

August 2016

Since 2007, the Regional Economic Development (RED) Program of GIZ in Cambodia has introduced the Regional Management (RM) approach and adapted it to the Cambodian context. The objective of RM is a process of sustainable regional development. The RM concept assumes that regional government cannot achieve regional development on its own. The participatory, bottom-up and cooperative features of RM suggest instead that a larger range of actors within a region needs to get involved. In Europe, where the RM approach originates, a typical example of a facilitative variety of RM is the EU initiative LEADER, which was an innovative EU structural policy instrument for about two decades. In 2016, the GIZ RED program decided that the sustainability of RM achievements in the pilot province Siem Reap as well as the transferability of the RM approach to new provinces needed to be assessed. Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) conducted this assignment in August 2016, which not only included the RM assessment in the Cambodian context, but also the development of scenarios on how RM (or an alternative LRED approach) could look like in the future in other provinces of Cambodia. Finally, the integration of RM with the other two components of the RED programme (value chain development, local governance) needed to be analysed and recommendations made for improved collaboration.

Social Lab Training and Event on Lombok, Indonesia

October 2016

Mesopartner is a consortium partner in GIZ’s Sustainable Regional Economic Growth and Investment Programme (SREGIP) in Indonesia. Among the innovations SREGIP strives to introduce is the development of capacities for a self-organised network on sustainability issues (Social Lab) in the province of Nusa Tengarra Barat (NTB). This includes the support of the hospitality businesses on Gili Trawangan - a tiny, but very tourism-oriented island close to Lombok - in order to improve the carbon footprint through a Social Lab initiative. Mesopartner had identified different instruments and tools that local stakeholders could use to steer the Social Lab innovation process and to moderate workshops throughout this process on Gili Trawangan in particular and NTB in general. In an intensive 3-day Social Lab Event and Training in the middle of October 2016, the Mesopartner consultant Christian Schoen (in cooperation with AMC Indonesia) introduced various workshop moderation and process facilitation tools and guided a team of moderators through a multi-stakeholder Social Lab workshop to discuss issues and find solutions around solid waste management on Gili Trawangan. The tools introduced during the training included - among others - scenario writing, Kotter’s 8 step change facilitation tool and the Cynefin sense-making framework to make decisions under uncertainly.

Innovation promotion in rural settings in Bavaria/Germany

October 2016

Mesopartner has designed many study tours on regional innovation, structural change and green economic development. In October, we organized a study tour for economic development representatives from Kyrgyzstan on innovation in rural areas in South Bavaria. It is a well-known region for innovation since it combines tourism and agricultural development, further processing of products and local marketing, as well as the organization of whole value chains related to ecologically certified products.  Visits to different stakeholders active in policy promotion, service support and business networking provided an insight into the Bavarian rural innovation system. The objective of the tour was to provide a system perspective on local and rural economic development and key elements for successful and sustainable economic development.   

Master-Class on the Development of Technological Capabilities and Territorial Competitiveness

Picture with students during an exercise and as a group

Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) provides annually a Seminar at the International Masters Course on Small Enterprise Development (SEPT) of the University of Leipzig. 25 students from 15 different nationalities are taking part in this English-speaking Master degree.  The course this year focused on the reflection on innovation and competitiveness requirements in territories and the importance of developing technological capabilities in complex contexts. It emphasizes the challenge faced by many developed and developing countries when it comes to creating ways to increase knowledge flows to ultimately contribute to value addition and new learning in a regional as well as national economy. Technological capabilities not only require access to physical technology but also the social structures and network culture to enable knowledge creation and knowledge flows. 

LED as a mandatory course in the National Administration Academy of Uzbekistan

Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) supported the national Administration Academy of Uzbekistan in integrating a 62-hour course on Territorial Competitiveness and regional change. Professors from the Academy were coached over a period of 7 months. The course itself was held for around 30 students. More decentralized approaches to economic development in Uzbekistan will be decisive for the near future to overcome centralistic and planning-driven economic development promotion.  The Academy decided in October 2016 to make it a mandatory course from now on for all the younger administration leaders in the regions of Uzbekistan.

Local Content Development in Uganda

Oil extraction in Uganda

Planned oil and gas investments in East African countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique have provided good development opportunities for the countries. The GIZ together with DFID is supporting skills development and business development in regions close to extracting zones. Mesopartner together with PEM Consult GmbH is leading the analysis of local content development opportunities especially for female employees and businesswomen. This involves looking into gender-sensitive value chains like construction, catering or tourism and identifying business opportunities in territories with improved infrastructure and new emerging markets. The analysis in Uganda has concluded that there are many new local business opportunities emerging in the regions around the larger oil and gas investments. At the same time, to identify specific skills demand, it is necessary to establish closer direct contact with businesses in the different supplier chains of the oil and gas extraction industry. 

Workshop with regional economic development agency in Germany

Frank Waeltring

The Steinfurt district in Northrhine-Westphalia is a dynamic economic territory. The district agency for economic development is active in business and start-up promotion. A Mesopartner workshop with the team from the agency sought to reflect on entry points for the promotion of further  innovation initiatives in the region. One of the key joint findings in workshops like these is the importance of engagement by the team itself to gain a closer insight into businesses and their market realities as well as an openness to experiment in the field.

Bachelor Theses with Mesopartner on Local German Innovation Systems in Rural Territories

Students and representatives of the Local Economic Development Agency in Rheine (Germany)

3 students from Jacobs University in Bremen did their Bachelor thesis with Mesopartner on innovation promotion in rural settings in Northrhine-Westphalia and Bremen. Related to a Development Economics course provided by Mesopartner’s Frank Waeltring at Jacobs University, the students analyzed in detail the innovation system in the district of Steinfurt, the wind energy cluster in the city of Rheine and the Maritime Cluster in Bremen. The students received strong support from the economic development agencies in the respective district or city.

Development Economics at Jacobs University Bremen

Students of the Development Economics course on graduation day

Jacobs University is an English-speaking University in Bremen/Germany with a high international reputation. Mesopartner provided a whole semester course on Development Economics combining practice and theory on key economic aspects. Three students did their bachelor thesis on regional innovation promotion with Mesopartner, analyzing German towns and regions and their business and innovation orientation. 

Supporting economic change in Bangladesh

October 2016

In October 2016, Mesopartner (Marcus Jenal) supported the Making Markets Work for the Jamuna, Padma and Teesta Chars (M4C) in Bangladesh. The aim of the assignment was to develop a framework for assessing change in the economic systems of the areas they target. The framework that was developed drew from earlier work Mesopartner did in collaboration with Katalyst and from a research report Mesopartner is working on for the BEAM Exchange.

The proposed M4C systemic change framework defines systemic change as transformational change happening through a regime shift in a complex system. It is built around categories of enabling factors that make this shift happen in order to show significant effects. The framework consequently consists of three elements, namely categories of enabling factors leading to transformational change, assessed by its significance.

Interview on knowledge for innovation

October 2016

During October Dr Shawn Cunningham was interviewed by Richard Angus (CEO The Finance Team) on the Business Masterclass programme on The topic of the interview was about concepts on knowledge and knowledge management that are relevant for business leaders. Listen to the podcast here.

During the 30-minute interview, they talked about several knowledge concepts, like the distinction between tacit knowledge and codified knowledge and why this matters. Shawn explained how knowledge creation can be enhanced to improve innovation.

This interview is based on the article that he wrote earlier this year for the University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Education newsletter.

Systemic change in market systems development

Market systems development programmes aim to achieve systemic change. However, the communities that use market systems approaches have struggled to define what constitutes systemic change and the pathways to achieve it. There is a commonly expressed feeling that the way current market systems development programmes devise their interventions does not reflect a good understanding of how market systems work (or fail) and how change happens in economic and interconnected systems. The lack of a common understanding of what constitutes systemic change and how change happens in (market) systems negatively influences the way programmes are funded and designed and also poses challenges to programme monitoring and evaluation.

Leading the research is a consortium of organisations led by IDS and including Mesopartner, Itad and Palladium. The aim is to achieve conceptual clarity on systemic change. Read more on the BEAM Exchange website.

Gender Sensitive Value Chain in Israel

September 2016

Since early 2016, Mesopartner, funded by the Swiss organization Cfd, has been supporting an Israëli NGO to introduce the Gender Sensitive Value Chain (GSVC) approach in order to promote the economic integration of Bedouin women from the Negev Desert. The process started with a three day training of practitioners for the NGO staff, which made it possible to introduce the main value chain concepts and tools and to select a promising value chain to develop with a business orientation. A GSVC analysis was conducted in September 2016 by some of the NGO staff and Valérie Hindson, as Mesopartner associate, to investigate the potential to grow naturally seasonal vegetables from the desert gardens. This initiative enabled the project to obtain support from both Arab and Jewish communities, as well as local experts in agriculture and potential clients and from the public institutions. A dozen safe to fail experiments and quick win activities have been planned as a result of the analysis, which will be evaluated early in 2017. For more information on the project, please contact Valérie Hindson 

Evaluation of 8 Value Chains in 8 Provinces of Vietnam

During the first half of 2016, Mesopartner and MCG (Vietnam) jointly evaluated SDC’s MARP Program (Market Access for the Rural Poor through Value Chain Promotion) in Vietnam. This 3-year program saw 4 implementing agencies (Helvetas, SNV, Oxfam and VietTrade) upgrade 8 value chains in 8 provinces in the North and Northern Center of Vietnam. The value chains included ancient broad-leaf tea, various spices, bamboo, rattan and ethnic textiles. Each project under MARP focused on 3 output areas: improving linkages between farmers, processors and buyers, upgrading product quality and enhancing the enabling environment. More than 90% of the 24,000 supported households are ethnic minorities and almost half of them female-headed. About two thirds of targeted households experienced - partly significant - income increase. The poverty rate sank from 36% to 25%. All in all, the MARP program is considered successful thanks to the specific features of the "MARP model”, such as capacitating processing and trading enterprises within value chains to take on lead roles in value chain upgrading. The model might be re-applied in the future in Vietnam in order to continue attacking the consistent pockets of poverty among ethnic minorities in mountainous areas.

Mesopartner participates in The World Manufacturing Forum

May 2016, Barcelona

During the first week of May 2016, Shawn Cunningham participated in the World Manufacturing Forum international conference. The event was held over two days in Barcelona and was supported by the EU. The World Manufacturing Forum (WMF) is an internationally-recognised assembly which aims to shape global, regional, national and industry-specific manufacturing policy. This highly-regarded and invitation-only annual event also explores industry megatrends and provides high-level networking opportunities. The 2016 WMF was the fourth big-budget edition to assemble global policy experts, industry leaders from large multinationals to small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and academic leaders to discuss the policy, economic, social and technical challenges that influence global manufacturing. The WMF is an initiative of the Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (IMS) Programme and is supported financially by the European Commission (EC). Some of the topics discussed involved the evolution of the Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, the increased importance and effects of digital manufacturing as well as recent developments in the circular economy.

Mesopartner visits German National Metrology Institute, Physikalisch-Technische

Bundesanstalt in Braunschweig/ Germany June 2016

On Tuesday, June 29 Mesopartner visited the German Metrology Institute/ Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, PTB in Brunswick to intensify collaboration. Mesopartner has been supporting PTB’s Technical Cooperation Group (Q.5.) for more than a decade to ensure that the development of Quality Infrastructure is related more to the needs of consumers and the business sector. A visible product of this collaboration is the CALIDENA ( ) methodology, which was developed with the Latin America and Caribbean Group (Q.53).

Mesopartner took the opportunity to learn more about the technical capabilities of PTB by visiting its Division of Electromagnetic Fields and Antenna Measuring Techniques. Dr. Kai Baaske, a metrology scientist, explained to the visitors how to improve the ability of electronic apparatus and devices to function properly in a given electromagnetic environment without disturbing this environment too much through their own emissions.

The visit ended with a meeting between the Mesopartner team and the heads of the PTB Technical Cooperation Groups for Asia (Q.52), Middle East and North Africa (Q.54) and Sub-Saharan Africa (Q.55) and both parts identified several opportunities to intensify their collaboration.

Economic development for protected wildlife areas

Costa Rica is known as a forerunner in sustainable development. The Central American country is a well-positioned destination for Green tourism, implements unique environmental policies and plans to be carbon neutral by 2028. To comply with the commitment to fighting climate change Costa Rica is working actively on reforestation and biodiversity. The German Development Agency, GIZ, is supporting the National Agency for Conservation Areas/ Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación (SINAC), helping it  to establish more than a hundred (100) connecting structures - so called wildlife or biological corridors - between conservation areas.

The SINAC and GIZ are highly experienced in the area of conservation. Nevertheless, they became aware that traditional protective actions are necessary but not sufficient to stop the loss of biodiversity. Therefore they commissioned Mesopartner to develop a territorial economic development concept which involves the local business sector in order to contribute to the conservation objectives.

Based on the company’s experience with participatory approaches to promoting territorial competitiveness, Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke has helped the partners to develop an explicitly green concept of LED. The key is the promotion of green entrepreneurship and innovation within diverse stakeholder dialogue platforms (“agoras”). Local business should become more aware of and benefit from the conversation involving the ecosystems. Possible tensions between economy and ecology should be overcome by environmentally conscious entrepreneurs and provide win-win solutions.

After the approval of the proposal by the clients, it is planned to pilot the new methodology in several (3 to 4) biological corridors. If the experiments prove successful, the territorial economic development approach could be integrated into the general planning procedures. 

Link to film

Evaluation of Helvetas’ Regional Shan Tea Project

April 2016

Three different varieties of broad leaf Shan Tea grow in the mountainous areas of Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and China: ancient, wild and cultivated Shan Tea. During the last 3 years Helvetas has worked on upstream and downstream support activities to actors operating in Shan Tea value chains with the final objective of improving the income and living conditions of Shan Tea farmers, who are mostly ethnic minorities in their respective countries and for whom Shan Tea is their only cash income. In April 2016, Christian Schoen from Mesopartner was contracted by Helvetas to evaluate the previous project approach and results and to help design the second phase of the regional Shan Tea project, which is expected to again cover the countries Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The concept note will be submitted to the SDC, which has already financed the first project phase.

Tourism Value Chain Analysis Training in Myanmar

March 2016

Between 14 and 17 March 2016, Mesopartner provided a 4-day Tourism VCA training module as part of a more comprehensive 5-week ToT for regional tourism consultants organised by GIZ. The training took place in Nyaung Shwe at Inle Lake in Southern Shan State. The trainer, Christian Schoen, specifically stressed his experience gained from conducting rapid, participatory tourism value chain analyses in 2014/2015 in different tourism destinations in Myanmar (Chaung Thar, Ngwe Saung, Bagan) for an ILO entrepreneurship development programme operating in the tourism sector.

New Industrial Policy for Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a small country in Central America. In relation to most of its neighbours, its economy is more developed and it is currently preparing to become part of the community of industrialized countries (OECD).

Costa Rica is known for ambitious political experiments. The country renounced its armed forces, and this was in a region which suffered decades of civil war and whose neighbors are still suffering very high levels of violence.

It is also a forerunner of sustainable development and a well-positioned destination for green tourism. To mitigate climate change, the country is currently following a plan to become carbon neutral by 2028.

Mesopartner (Dr Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke) was commissioned by GIZ to support Costa Rica’s Ministry.

New project to reduce carbon fuel consumption in manufacturing while building new technological capability in South Africa

March 2016

Mesopartner in collaboration with PEM Consulting has been appointed to implement Experiential Learning Projects (ELP) on behalf of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). One of these is a 15-month project seeking to lay the foundation for the Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Renewable and Energy Efficiency platform. In the short term the project aims to significantly reduce carbon consumption at Danone SA. The longer term objective is to create a new and improved technological capability in energy recycling at VUT that will support the broader industry with service offerings in the application of Multi-fuel Combustion and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technologies. The project kicked off with a study tour to Hamburg, Germany, which took place from 6 – 11 March 2016.  The intention of the tour was to forge relationships with technical centres and experts who will be closely involved in the project implementation, training and oversight of Master Students. Three Mesopartner colleagues are part of this project; Adrie El Mohamadi has been appointed as the long term technical expert for the project, Dr Shawn Cunningham is one of the short term experts and Frank Waeltring alongside Henning Bungarts (PEM Consulting) is responsible for the selection and collaboration of German technical centres and experts.

Mid-term evaluation of ‘the lab’ at the ILO

Image source: Wikimedia, author BiiJii, some rights reserved (

In February, Marcus Jenal visited the ILO offices in Geneva as part of the mid-term evaluation of ‘the lab’, an innovative project of the SME unit in the Enterprise Department of the ILO. The lab supports value chain development programmes within and beyond the ILO to apply a more systemic intervention approach, become better at selecting and analysing sectors for intervention, and effectively monitor and measure the results of their interventions. The lab is also enabling research into how to create and measure the creation of decent jobs through value chain development initiatives. The mid-term evaluation will not only assess whether the lab is on track with achieving its intended results, but will also look into the effectiveness and sustainability of the current set-up of the lab and provide input to a potential next phase.

Redesigning Visitor Monitoring Approach in Lombok, Indonesia

January 2016

Mesopartner is part of a consortium that supports GIZ In Indonesia to implement SREGIP (Sustainable Regional Economic Growth and Investment Programme) aiming at improving the value addition, inclusiveness and environmental sustainability of 100 SMEs and 5,000 Smallholders in the rubber and pepper sectors in West Kalimantan and the tourism sector in Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB) province. As part of the support to the Provincial Tourism Board in NTB to provide improved public services on tourism data collection and publication, SREGIP decided to provide a technical expert (Christian Schoen, Mesopartner) for the development process of an appropriate visitor monitoring methodology in the last week of January 2016.  Christian researched on good practices to determine tourist numbers in various tourism destinations prior to the mission, conducted interviews on Lombok and gave inputs and moderation services at two workshops. The result is a modified monitoring approach by which domestic and foreign visitors are counted at certain entry/exit gates, profiled through supporting quantitive data and surveyed to receive qualitative information. The new approach will be piloted over the next 4 to 5 months.

Technology roadmapping in South Africa


Mesopartner is supporting the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Roadmapping process of the South African Department of Science and Technology. Shawn Cunningham is working specifically with the Advanced Electronics roadmapping team to provide support with industry mobilization, documentation and strategy development. The purpose of the advanced manufacturing roadmap is to make it possible for the Department of Science and Technology to better integrate public support and investment directed towards the advanced manufacturing sector.

The roadmapping process involves a series of workshops with manufacturers and researchers to develop a vision for each technology and develop possible paths to achieve the vision. A valuable part of the process are the conversations taking place between scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs in order to better understand possible application areas, technology and knowledge bases, and where the public sector should focus its attention.

Mesopartner @ TCI Conference

November 2015

Mesopartner attended and contributed to the 18th Global TCI Conference that took place in Daegu, South Korea from the 3rd to the 6th of November. The theme of the conference was the role of clusters in a creative economy. Four partners and a close collaborator made presentations at the conference, and Mesopartner also supported several sessions and discussions. Frank gave a presentation about Promoting Competitive Territorial Living Spaces. Christian presented an approach to making clusters more climate smart. Ulli and Nadine Barthel made a presentation about their work in the video gaming industry. Shawn presented two instruments from the complexity field that can be used to detect and strengthen emerging clusters.

Mesopartner will attend the 2016 TCI conference which will be held in Eindhoven.

Below are the links to the presentations made by Mesopartner

Incentives and Support Policies for the Video Game Industry and Clusters in Different Countries. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke & Nadine Barthel, Mesopartner PartG, Germany

Promoting Competitive Territorial Living Spaces and the Need To Overcome Simplistic “Urban-Rural”as well as “Social and Economic Innovation” Divide. Frank Waeltring, Mesopartner PartG, Germany

Climate Smart Clusters. Christian Schoen, Mesopartner PartG, Germany

Strengthening the evolutionary potential of clusters: Shifting from responding to anticipating what is next possible. Shawn Cunningham, Mesopartner, South Africa

Supporting market development in Myanmar

October 2015

During October, Marcus Jenal and Shawn Cunningham visited the GRO M4P Programme implemented by Care in Myanmar. The programme targets the rubber value chain. Marcus and Shawn presented a training programme over 4 days, and provided advice and technical inputs to the Care management team in Myanmar. Over the next 6 months Mesopartner will continue to support the team leader and team in their implementation.

Moving from an LED approach to a more innovation-driven system approach in Armenia

October 2015

Mesopartner has a long history in supporting friends and colleagues in Armenia in promoting local economic development approaches in the country. We cooperated on designing the national SME strategy over the last few years but were also supported in particular by our colleagues and associates in Armenia like Varazdat Karapetyan, PEM and GIZ in the implementation of more than 70 PACA exercises in different communities. In October 2015, we carried out a review of the past experiences and realized that it is time in Armenia to promote a more innovation system- and regional economic development approach. The many PACA and LED experiences have contributed to a solid base of knowledge and also success. At the same time it is clearly necessary to promote more innovation-driven local economic development approaches as well as to take on the lens of identifying outliers. This means businesses and supporting institutions that are innovative despite many dysfunctional aspects in the system. We have embarked on a joint path of explorative approaches.

Promoting a more exploration-based approach vs. planning-based approach to regional economic development in Uzbekistan

October 2015

In October 2015, Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) provided a 4-day interactive lecture at the National Academy of Administration of Uzbekistan on the role of local and regional public administrations in the promotion of local competitive advantages. In contrast to the existing centralized planning approach in Uzbekistan, the seminar introduced more business-, complexity- and exploration-oriented approaches to regional economic development. 160 students from the Academy participated in the seminar. The assignment will also involve a German Study Tour in November 2015 for the Professors of the Academy to get to know more decentralized and business-driven economic development approaches.

Facilitating Strategy Workshop in Timor-Leste

October 2015

In October 2015 Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) designed and facilitated the Strategy & Planning Workshop of the Innovative Employment Promotion (IEP) project of GIZ in Timor-Leste. The key task was to moderate a process that helps the project team and the partners translate the mid-term review report into a concrete strategic plan of action for the remainder of the project life.

Tourism Value Chain Analysis in Bagan, Myanmar

August-September 2015

In August/September 2015 Mesopartner (Christian Schoen) supported the ILO project “Supporting Tourism in Myanmar through Business Management training” (funded by SECO) to conduct a rapid, participatory tourism value chain analysis of the prime tourism destination Bagan. To diagnose strengths/opportunities and bottlenecks of the Bagan tourism value chain and its tourism enterprises a combination of PACA process and Market System Framework logic was applied. A special emphasis was put on analysing the administrative and regulatory environment, in which tourism SMEs are operating in Bagan in particular and Myanmar in general. 

Breakfast presentation with Prof Dave Snowden

August 2015

On the 21st of August, Mesopartner in collaboration with the Aluminium Federation of South Africa (AFSA) and Cognitive Edge, hosted a breakfast event where Prof Dave Snowden was the main speaker. 

The participants represented various engineering and manufacturing membership organisations and manufacturers. Prof Snowden, with his usual illustrative stories, urged the business people to be more sensitive to the different styles of leadership that are needed in different contexts. For instance, using rituals to get workers to engage in a safety critical behaviour will in many cases work better than checklists, signs and rules. He explained why in complex adaptive systems there is no causality, as the system is constantly changing and adapting. The only way to lead in a complex environment is to create portfolios of safe2fail experiments to test multiple competing hypotheses. Prof Snowden emphasized that designing an ideal state and then working to close the gap between the present and the idealised state is bound to fail (or have unintended consequences) in human systems. However, in engineered or mechanical systems this is the appropriate approach. A closing comment made by Prof Snowden that led to small groups of people staying behind talking long after he had left was about how to focus on creating creative interconnections or relations between people, rather than trying to target objects or people directly in change processes.

This event is part of a series of events that Mesopartner is collaborating with Cognitive Edge on as part of our Systemic Insight applied research in complexity.

LED Programme Evaluation and New Programme Formulation in Papua/West Papua Indonesia

April-June 2015

How to  identify and design business development strategies and market potentials of local products produced by indigenous Papuans in Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia? This was one of the key question to be answered by component 3 of the People-Centred Development Programme (PCDP) of UNDP in Indonesia (2011-2015, funded by NZ Aid). Christian Schoen from Mesopartner together with a national consultant (Pak Mukti Asikin) were commissioned by UNDP between April and June 2015 to find out whether this question had been answered by PCDP in a relevant, effective, efficient, sustainable way, generating visible impact. The final programme review was combined with the formulation of  a new LED programme for both provinces to be implemented by UNDP in future.

Mesopartner advises Digital Animation and Video Game Industry in Central America

July 2015

Mesopartner was selected in a competitive tendering process to advice the Digital Animation and Video Game Industry in Costa Rica and Guatemala. The objective of the consultancy is to support local industry and policy makers in the design of incentive schemes and other policy instruments to promote these upcoming audiovisual industries in both Central-American countries.

The consulting is conducted by an international, multidisciplinary team. The activities include a participatory assessment of the current development stage of the business ecosystems of both industries and of the corresponding support policy in the two countries. The Central-American experience will be related to international experiences of leading countries in the areas of Digital Animations and Video Games. The Benchmark countries are Argentina, Basil, Canada, Colombia, Germany, South Korea and Spain. The consultants will distillate different models of support policies and present a menu of appropriate instruments which fits to the specific needs of the industry of the industries in the selected Central-American countries.

The project is part of broader support activities within the GIZ program (FACILIDAD) to foster the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the region. The presentation of the project findings and recommendations is scheduled for late September 2015.

Contact: Dr. Ulrich Harmes-Liedtke (Project manager)


Assisting manufacturers to upgrade process technology

June 2015

During June Dr Shawn Cunningham accompanied several dozen South African foundries to a technology fair in Germany. These companies were searching for and evaluating process technology to modernize their production facilities. Shawn's role was to assist companies to assess various technologies such as industrial scale 3D printing, non-destructive testing, reverse engineering and flexible manufacturing technologies. This mission was covered by several different clients which include South African Programmes to promote local procurement, a university of technology where Shawn is a research associate, and industry associations involved in the promotion of the metals sector in South Africa. Over the last seven years Shawn has worked intensely with the metals sector in South Africa (and abroad) and the promotion of the innovation system and research partners in the traditional manufacturing sector.

Instigating innovation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

May 2015

Over the last two years Mesopartner have been supporting the Economic Development Agency in Banja Luka with several value chain and sector development studies. During May, Dr. Shawn Cunningham trained the project coordinators and sector experts of EDA on Mesopartners latest capacity building offer called Instigating Innovation. This course takes the Innovation Systems offering of Mesopartner further and assists development intermediaries to develop innovation management approaches that can also be applied and transferred to industry.


23 April 2015

Ultimately, it is the people who make the difference. In March 2015 Frank Waeltring visited colleagues from a PACA project initiated in 2007 in Kalisizo/Uganda. It is impressive what the former partners have developed over the subsequent years. They started with the first PACA initiatives but then moved on to design their own additional projects  and also institutionalized the process. They created an NGO as the leading management body, developed different exchange and coaching networks of enterprises in different sectors, organized successful cooperatives with up to 450 members, developed peer educators through capacity development by the team who started the PACA analysis in 2007. Several business men and women in the team opened up new hotels and B&Bs as well as attractive community tourism projects. It is nice to see that, despite moments of crisis, Kalisizo has always continued to move on in its LED process. And the most motivated and dynamic stakeholders are still there, still the drivers of an iterative change.

Synthesis and Evaluation Workshop on LED

January 2015

Christian Schoen facilitated a 2-day workshop at Mekong Institute (MI) in Thailand on the assessment of localized LED trainings at provincial level along the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) in Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The localized trainings were the follow-up to an LED ToT implemented by MI in cooperation with Mesopartner in April 2013 aiming at improving LED capacities along the EWEC. This capacity development program is funded by SDC.

New Mesopartner publication

December 2014

The German Eco-system for start-up promotion: New trends in incubation, technology promotion and business angel networks  

Germany is not the most successful country in the promotion of start-ups. Nonetheless its eco-system for economic and innovation promotion is highly institutionalized and decentralized. Frank Waeltring (Mesopartner) and Prof. Utz Dornberger (SEPT-University Leipzig) published a study on this German eco-system looking at new trends in the incubation and business angel sphere. The study was done for the GIZ in India who is involved in the promotion of innovative start-up promotion approaches. The paper includes 20 case studies from financial as well as technology and incubation approaches in Germany and proves a comprehensive overview about the current state of development. The paper can be downloaded here.

South African Information tour to Germany

October 2014

During October Mesopartner arranged and supported a GIZ funded information tour to Germany. The participants consisted of senior decision makers from Universities, Universities of Technology, the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Higher Education and Training in South Africa. Shawn Cunningham and Frank Waeltring were contracted to identify university and research centres in Northrhine-Westfalia and Berlin and were responsible for the logistics and tour arrangements. The participants were particularly interested in how various kinds of technology centres hosted by universities worked to connect industry with academia and researchers.

The tour was part of the work programme of 'The Technology Transfer, Innovation and Diffusion' project component implemented by GFA on behalf of the Skills Development for Climate and Environment Business – “Green Jobs” GIZ Program in South Africa.

Supporting an industry association in defining its role and strategy

August 2014

During August, Mesopartner assisted the South African Institute of Foundrymen (SAIF) in developing a new strategy and positioning for the next 5 years. Shawn has been working with the foundry industry in South Africa for the last 6 years, and this is the third strategy workshop that he has facilitated for SAIF. The first strategy workshop in 2008 followed immediately after a RALIS process hosted by the University of Johannesburg's Metal Casting Technology Station. The 2008 SAIF strategy resulted in the appointment of the permanent CEO, Mr. John Davies. This was an important event in the history of the SAIF, as the SAIF transformed from a voluntary management to a permanent management function. The foundry industry in South Africa is under immense competitive pressure from low cost producers and the industry has been struggling to regain an edge. Poor infrastructure, skills challenges, the cost of capital and labour related issues have further made the industry unattractive to investors. In the years since 2008 the SAIF has played an important role in advocacy on matters related to the foundry industry, and in strategic initiatives such as skills development and modernisation of the foundry industry.

Mesopartner has been supporting the South African foundry industry as a process consultant supporting different stakeholders in the metal casting innovation system. Firstly, Mesopartner worked directly with the SAIF and other industry bodies such as the Alumunium Federation of South Africa (AFSA) at the Mesolevel. Mesopartner also worked intensely with the public sector, especially the National Foundry Technology Network that is funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Science and Technology. Mesopartner also assisted several universities in developing more strategic modernisation and skills development programmes, and in one case assisted in the establishment of a technology demonstration facility. At the firm level, Mesopartner worked with sophisticated and demanding customers, like the automotive industry, the valve and pump industry and the rail industry to develop the competitiveness of the local casting supply capacity. Finally, Mesopartner worked directly with several foundries to improve their Research and Development activities, to manage their innovation and technology better, to try new manufacturing methods and the expand their markets. In one case, Mesopartner was contracted by an investor to assist a foundry in distress with a turnaround strategy.

Shawn Cunningham

Green Learning Visit to Berlin and Brandenburg with GIZ-Delegation from the Philippines

14-18 July

Who supports the Energy revolution (Energiewende) in Germany? What is the role of policies, support institutions and businesses in promoting Green Economic Development in Germany? A delegation of 22 partners and economic development experts from the GIZ program ProGED in the Philippines participated in a 1 week Learning Visit to Berlin and Brandenburg organized by Mesopartner. The study tour focused on the development of green innovations and the use of environmental technologies in metropolitan cities like Berlin and rural areas like the region of Brandenburg with medium-sized cites like Potsdam. The region's economy is faced by mitigation and adaptation challenges of climate change and at the same time is the dominant German region for renewable energy companies and suppliers. The aim of the visits and reflection workshops was not to take Germany as a best practice model in promoting green economic development but rather to provide new perspectives on the topic, food for thought and space for reflection to encourage Green Economic Development in the Philippines. Insights from the German system were used to reflect about the Philippine system and the required linkages between relevant stakeholders. The Learning Visit reader and the program agenda can be sent by Frank Waeltring on request of interest.    

Read how participants of the tour reflect on the tour afterwards and what insights and learning they want to communicate to their fellow country people and peers.

Reflection 1

Reflection 2

Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Brazil

June 2014

The use of renewable energy in Brazil is growing. The country has started with the promotion of wind energy, while solar energy is just starting to gain importance. Nonetheless one challenge for its future growth is the lack of qualified labour in these sectors. Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring) supported GIZ in Eschborn (Christoph Büdke) and in Brazil (Jürgen Beigel) in the design of a new program for the promotion of qualified labour in the wind-, solar- and energy efficiency sector. The team was also supported by Waldemar Bauer a professor from German.

Photo from left to right - Frank Waeltring, Juergen Beigel, Waldemar Bauer, Christoph Büdke

Business Support Service Fair in Yangon

24 May 2014

The consortium PEM and Mesopartner had been contracted by GIZ to promote entrepreneurship development in its current Private Sector Development Program in Myanmar.

One of the most recent activities under this component was the organisation of a Business Support Service Fair in Yangon on 24 May 2014. This fair was the first of its kind ever conducted in Myanmar and attracted 25 exhibiting service providers and 150 registered enterprises. The photo shows the consortium’s long-term expert Christopher Prior (center) with his local support team. Christian Schoen (Mesopartner, right hand side) visited the program on a short-term mission.

Moderators and Speakers at GIZ-Conference on 'Overcoming Regional Disparities' in Moldova

21-22 May 2014

Mesopartner supported the GIZ-Conference on 'Overcoming Regional Disparities' in Moldova on the 21st and 22nd of May 2014. Mesopartner (Frank Waeltring and Zdravko Miovcic) supported the conference through the preparation of a conference background paper, as panelist and moderator of a workshop on success factors of regional economic development. The background paper with country experiences from Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Poland also includes the workshop documentation. It can be downloaded soon at . The conference focused on successful experiences and challenges of regional development in the Balkan region. Around 160 experts from more than 20 countries participated in the conference.

Local Economic Development Training of Trainers in Vientiane, Laos

21 to 25 April 2014

This LED ToT marked the end of the 1st phase of a stocktaking and capacity development process implemented by the Mekong Institute in Thailand and funded by SDC.

Mesopartner is supporting this process through the development and supervision of the research approach looking into current LED frameworks, policies, practices and capacities in three pilot provinces/states in Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam along the East West Economic Corridor. Based on the capacity needs identified Mesopartner designed a modular capacity development approach and delivered the first (out of four) 5-day LED ToT in Vientiane.

Promoting business associations in Myanmar with handbook and leadership trainings

April 2014

Myanmar and its business associations are going through a process of change following liberalisation and democratisation. Mesopartner is supporting the associations  through the design of a context-related handbook on association management as well as through leadership trainings. The handbook was launched in April 2014 with the first management trainings. Different trainings with leaders of the associations on the one hand and with its staff on the other hand will continue during the next few months. The objective is to improve the management and service capacities of the associations during the few next years. Frank Wältring

Awareness-Raising of Potentials, Risks and Costs of Regional Economic Integration (ADB Manila)

3-5 March 2014

Mesopartner participated in an ADB workshop on “Awareness-Raising of Potentials, Risks and Costs of Regional Economic Integration” between 3 and 5 of March 2014 in Manila.

The role of Christian Schoen representing Mesopartner was the moderation of two case study sessions– one on the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), and the other one on Central Asia (CAREC). The key question of the workshop was: How to carry out ex-ante and ex-post impact assessment work in cross-border economic corridor development in order to make better decisions on channelling scarce resources to achieve the most desirable economic, social and environmental impacts?

Mesopartner is lecturing about 'Regional Competitiveness and Social Capital' in Germany and Vietnam

January & March 2014

In January and March 2014 Mesopartner again provided seminars and lectures as part of the German Masters on SME development (SEPT) at the University of Leipzig. Since 2008 annual lectures have been given in Leipzig, Hanoi and Ho-Chi-Minh-City to around 70 students. The topics of the courses given by Mesopartner are related to innovation, systemic competitiveness, green industrial development and the relevance of social capital for economic development. The students need to have previous work experience to apply for the Masters. It is always great fun to work with highly motivated young. Frank Wältring

Value Chain promotion as an Industrial Policy Instrument - Namibia

19-21 February 2014

During February 2014 Shawn Cunningham and Frank Waeltring conducted training of Ministry of Trade and Industry officials of Namibia. The training was about how to practically diagnose value chains within the context of industrial policy. The training took place over 3 days. The event was arranged and supported financially by the GIZ Programme for Economic Growth, which has been supporting the Namibian Government in its Industrial Policy formulation over the last 3 years.

Mesopartner cooperates with EDA in Bosnia and Herzegovina to promote Value chains

February 2014

Mesopartner is currently supporting the EDA in Bosnia, a private economic development agency based in BanjaLuka, in implementing four parallel value chain diagnosis exercises. During November, Frank Waeltring and Shawn Cunningham trained 4 teams to conduct value chain diagnosis in the metals, wood processing, leather and meat value chains. Mesopartner is currently supporting the four teams in developing their proposals and mobilizing supporting institutions to respond to the issues identified.

Value chain in Colombia

On behalf of the International Development Cooperation of PTB, Mesopartner advises the National Metrology Institute of Colombia and other bodies of the National Quality Infrastructure of Colombia to work more closely with business sectors organized in value chains. On the photo Luis Alfredo Chavarro, Chief of Metrology in Chemistry of NMI and Mesopartner Ulrich Harmes Liedtke.

Building sustainability for the Business Climate Survey, Indonesia

November 2013

Building sustainability for the Business Climate Survey (BCS) in Central Java: Christian Schoen with lecturers from the Diponegoro University (UNDIP) in Semarang in November 2013 at a training event on theory and practice of the BCS approach in Indonesia. The objective of the event was to inform the university about research and revenue generation opportunities created by getting actively involved in conducting the biannual BCS and possibly even hosting the methodology in the future. The GIZ RED programme in Indonesia has applied the enterprise surveys since 2003 in Central Java and recently also in West Kalimantan. Since 2005, Mesopartner has been advising the programme and local stakeholders on survey design, data processing, results analysis and reporting.

Christian Schoen

Innovation tour with Finnish Economic Agency Network

10 September 2013

On 10 September 2013 Mesopartner organized an innovation workshop and Berlin tour for  the Finnish City innovation network ( The day included speed presentations and speed table meetings with representatives of bottom-up business networks in a great business network location in Berlin, the Planet Modulor (  Further presenters of networks came from  Geekettes ( and Belius ( Mesopartner organized and facilitated the event and also presented their RALIS approach as a methodology to identify and promote business-driven innovation networks. After the half-day workshop the group of 25 representatives from Finnish economic agencies, innovation centers and city departments discovered Berlin on Segways with a guided tour on economic  structural change of the Inner City. The results were great discussions, new insights and lots of fun at the same time.

Frank Waeltring

LED School in Croatia

2-6 September 2013

During the week of the 2nd to the 6th of September 2013, Mesopartner trained 32 participants from Bosnia and Herzegovinaon LED concepts and tools. The training was organised by the GIZ Programme for Local Self-Government and Economic Development in Bosnia and Herzegovina (ProLocal) and was hosted in Split, Croatia. The participants were from three regions, supporting ministries and the GIZ ProLocal programme. The trainers were Frank Waeltring, Christian Schoen and Shawn Cunningham from Mesopartner, as well as Zdravko Miovcic, the director of EDA, a long time collaborator of Mesopartner in the Balkans.

Frank Waeltring, Christian Schoen & Shawn Cunningham