CADIC Web 2.0 Platform and Online Services


CROFT – CADIC Relational Online Framework and Toolset – provides a generative resource to guide, support and facilitate all aspects of CADIC SME cluster development, as described in the CADIC Guideline, through a process that is founded on facilitating and managing (generatively, bottom-up) communication flows between all involved parties (including external agents who can impact on the SME cluster development process). CROFT implementations of safe virtual collaborative spaces provide comprehensive online support for this offline process. The CROFT implementation process has been validated through practical application in CADIC SME cluster contexts.

CROFT Support Functionalities

CROFT aims to provide comprehensive online support specifically targeted at a variety of offline activities, in which members of the SME cluster engage, in order to develop their cluster. In order to generate, populate and manage a context–sensitive structure for activities within the safe virtual collaborative workspace. CROFT represents these activities in the form of “projects”. Some projects may be open to the collectivity of members of the SME cluster (the “Company”) who are currently participating in this virtual collaborative workspace (e.g, the “Welcome" project, a cluster facilitation or evaluation workshop). However, in other projects only a subset of the company membership may wish to join the project or be afforded access privileges (for example, formation of a joint venture involving only the team members who have agreed to participate in this venture and accept the responsibilities involved). In each case CROFT’s aim is to support the specific project team, working cooperatively, to find creative syntheses, emergent contexts or new pathways enhancing IC that they can share.

To this end, CROFT supports uploading and downloading, by team members, of files containing all kinds of content within the project's file system, which is stored and collectively managed by the project team itself, Team members can comment to each other on the file descriptions, and contents, and suggest how to use and enhance them for the own collaborative purposes. In appropriate circumstances, a file’s content can be collaboratively authored, edited and/or approved by members of the project team. Facilities are provided for team members to notify each other about what has been done or needs doing in the immediate messaging context. Support is provided for all kinds of telling, showing and doing including “bottom-up” (collective) management of tasks and milestones within and across projects, including inheritance of IC flows from parent projects.

CROFT methodology for gated access to “supersafe” virtual collaborative spaces

CROFT provides a methodology of restricted (gated) access to “supersafe” virtual collaborative spaces established for each project in any particular CROFT implementation. Only members of the company who have established appropriate qualifications can have access through the gate to become project team members through, for example, signing up to a “memorandum of understanding, defining obligations and responsibilities designed to facilitate IC flows within this “supersafe” space, while at the same time protecting IP developed within the project from “leaking” further afield, thus promoting a climate of trust and open collaboration within the project team and its activities.

CROFT Resources

CROFT was developed to provide an open, growing resource base for communication, and source of IC flows - to support both the Cluster Facilitation Team (at their specific level) and the cluster membership as a whole (at a wider level). Resources are context specific. Located in projects’ file systems, CROFT tools are also made available to members of the “company” as resources. Two “resource” projects, complete with standard contents (that can continually be enhanced by the Cluster Facilitation Team in the current context) are incorporated in each CROFT implementation, and described in the implementation manuals for the Cluster Facilitation Team and for SME cluster members. These are:

The Cluster Facilitation Team Resources Project aims to support the Cluster Facilitation team specifically. It contains materials of use to them in the setting up of the Company e.g.,
– CROFT manuals for the Cluster Facilitation team and SME cluster members
–  Guidelines for designing and developing cluster activities, events and workshops, including: Integration of on and offline support; Collaborative learning environments,
– Templates including: “Welcome” template, “Going Further” templates, Cluster event design templates, etc.

SME CADIC Resources Project provides a repository of information about the various ways in which CADIC can support SME cluster members working collaboratively to develop their cluster and its activities.
However, many of the resources that are brought into a specific cluster’s implementation of CROFT will probably come from elsewhere, informed by IC flows among the Cluster Facilitation Team and cluster members). Thus, in addition, CROFT provides a shell for a General Resources Project, which is created, and its initial content assembled by the Cluster Facilitation Team as part of the initial set up of their CROFT Virtual Collaboration Workspace. The purpose of the General Resources project is to supply information relevant to the Cluster and its purposes, as and when required by company members.

For more details of
CROFT and information about how to implement and use CROFT in SME cluster contexts, you can download here the CROFT Guideline

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