At European level, the development of future-oriented, competitive regions is promoted under various national cluster programmes through numerous innovation- and cluster-related activities.
Moreover, a variety of measures regarding cluster and innovation policy is offered by the Directorates General of the European Commission. The main priority is the creation of a Europe-wide network of the best cluster initiatives in order to strengthen their capacity for innovation and their competitiveness.
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In Albania, four cluster management organisations have been brought into existence with international support since 2004. These four were able to take hold in the areas of tourism, meat processing, medical herbs, and industrial production of leather goods.
Belgium is a federal state consisting of three regions: Brussels, Flanders, and Wallonia. Each region follows its individual cluster policies.
Cluster policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina was first initiated in 2005 with the help of the German Association for Technological Collaboration (GTZ – since 2011 called GIZ).
In Bulgaria, Clusters are assigned a decisive role in technology transfer, dissemination of innovation, and general use of resources. Clusters thereby turn into an important instrument for the support of businesses.
Denmark is a relatively small country. Against this background Danish innovation networks commonly have a national range although there focus areas are rooted regionally. Many individual initiatives have merged to overarching cluster networks.
In order to strengthen Germany’s competitiveness and capacity for innovation, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy as well as the Federal Ministry for Education and Research have set up various cluster programmes.
Clusters in Estonia are supported on the national level by three different programmes, all of which are managed by the innovation agency Enterprise Estonia.
The Finnish innovation agency Tekes is the most important publicly financed expert organisation centred on the issue of financing research, development, and innovation in Finland. It is instrumental in the implementation of the EU “Horizon 2020” programmes.
In 2005, the nationwide cluster policy programme “Pôles de compétitivité“ was implemented with the goal to strengthen France’s market competitiveness by increasing innovation dynamics and expanding employment in the most important growth markets.
With its three cluster management organisations, Greece has set itself the goal of creating – and promoting to a world-wide high-standard level – highly specialized cluster initiatives in several fields.
In 2005, the “Technology Strategy Board” (innovation agency in the UK) established the cluster programme “Knowledge Transfer Networks”. Since 2014, the innovation agency acts under the name of “Innovate UK”. In long-term-oriented cooperation associations, middle-sized firms, individual businesses, research and education institutions, as well as financial sponsors act together to develop new products and services and to introduce these to the market.
The Pilot Clustering Programme 2016 aims at supporting industry-oriented initiatives in using advantages of a collaborative working environment. The cooperation with other actors in the cluster wants to enable access to customers, research facilities, and technological knowledge in order to enter additional markets.
As part of the economic strategy “Island 2020”, an investment plan for the development of infrastructure, employment, human capital, and society has been compiled. Main component of the proposed provisions are regional development strategies in which cluster initiatives are planned to be promoted.
Since the 1980s, “distretti industriali” – so-called industrial districts – have developed in Italy without funding or accompanying programmes. These districts have constituted a new form of regional development in form of networking structures. The distinctiveness of industrial districts lies in their intensely horizontal cooperation between businesses while, at the same time, they stand in stark competition to one another. Typically, they are specialised in traditional sectors and end products, as for example shoes, clothes, furniture, household products, consumer goods, etc.
The Ministry for Trade and Industry initiated a strategy for the future direction of industrial policy in November 2014. Cluster development plays an important role in the industrial strategy.
A multiplicity of new and already existing clustering initiatives has been endorsed in the past years. Currently, approximately 90 such initiatives exist in sectors such as nutrition and food, timber industry, automobile-, metal-, and machinery industry, information and communication technologies, textiles, and leather goods.
The Latvian Cluster programme mainly centres on the advancement of already existing clusters. The “Investment and Development Agency of Latvia” is responsible for conducting the programme.
In the Principality of Liechtenstein there are currently no measures implemented concerning Cluster politics. Please send relevant information regarding pursuant political activities to firstname.lastname@example.org
With its innovation strategy “Lithuania 2030”, Lithuania has set the objective of creating an innovation friendly setting with regard to intelligent society, intelligent economy and intelligent environment.
The “Luxemburg Cluster Initiative”, established in 2002, is a key element in national research and development activities as well as in innovation policy in Luxemburg. The initiative aims at supporting research and development activities, innovation endeavours of businesses, and their collaboration with public research and education institutions. Clusters serve as instruments for transfer of knowledge and exchange of best-practice approaches.
Malta currently has no cluster policy that may aim at building and supporting organized cluster initiatives. Nevertheless, the country is pursuing a sectoral approach in the design of innovation policy measures in line with the strategy for intelligent specialization.
In 2002, the “Competitiveness Activity Project” initiated the first cluster policy measures in Macedonia. The project’s goal has been aiding Macedonian businesses to develop initiatives that increase their competitiveness on international markets.
The cluster creation policy in Moldova is still in its early stages. In order to coordinate, support, and implement innovation activities and technology transfer, Moldova established the Agency for Innovation and Technology Transfer (AITT).
In 2009, the first cluster policy measures were initiated in Montenegro. Capacities for the support of cluster management organisations were provided jointly by the Ministry of Economy and the “United Nations Industrial Development Organisation” (UNIDO) and existing clusters were depicted and a new cluster strategy developed. In total, 15 capability studies were compiled and stakeholders were included in strategy development.
In the Netherlands, there currently do not exist any overarching cluster programmes or assistance measures specifically addressed at clusters. The initiative “Pics in the Delta” lasted from 2003 to 2011 and aimed at the increase of economic competitiveness of regions in the Netherlands. In this context, multiple cluster organisations came into being.
The national cluster programme “Norwegian Innovation Clusters” supports cooperative activities in clusters with the goal of strengthening innovation abilities and development of innovative settings.
A number of funding programmes exist on a federal and state level in Austria. The Cluster Platform Austria of the Federal Ministry of Science, Research, and Economy enables an overview on the existing cluster environment on the federal level and advances pressing issues in alliance with cluster initiatives. In addition, the development of cluster initiatives on state level is fostered, as, for example, in the “Clusters Lower Austria” programme.
The Polish Government recognises cluster supporting measures as a crucial element of its economic policy. The “Polish Agency for Enterprise Development” (PARP) implements cluster policy measures on the national level, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF).
In Portugal, the “Enquadramento das Estratégias de Eficiência Coletiva” (EEC) (roughly: Framework for a Collective Efficiency Strategy) was published in 2008 to increase market competitiveness and internationalisation efforts. This efficiency strategy in part also includes cluster policy.
The Romanian “Competitiveness Operational Programme” (COP) was launched in 2015 with duration of five years. The Romanian Agency for Research and Innovation and the Romanian Ministry of Education both execute the programme. The programme generally finances research, development, and knowledge transfer so as to create a high-end, modern research landscape. In this context, clusters and cluster relevant activities are financially supported as well.
The Swedish cluster programme Vinnväxt is organised in form of a competition as a result of which specific regions receive funding and evaluation for the duration of several years. Sweden hopes to achieve increased competitiveness and innovation capacities, invigorative regional innovation systems, and elimination of regional differences regarding technology development with the Vinnväxt concept.
Switzerland does not feature a coherent cluster policy with an overarching cluster strategy and national funding programmes on federal level. The Swiss Federal Council voted in opposition to autonomous cluster policy. Instead, universities, academic circles, and cantons are given ample scope.
“Cluster House” is an organisation that supports cluster-oriented economic development in the Balkans and the Black Sea region. It was founded in 2011on the initiative of seven cluster management organisations from South-East-Serbia with technical support received from the “Danish Programme for Local Economic Development in the Balkans“(LEDIB).
In 2013, the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic published a call for proposals with which cluster management organisations could apply for grants. Six cluster management organisations availed the opportunity.
Slovenia has had a leading position in cluster political aspects for many years. The Automotive Cluster of Slovenia was one of the first and by all means one of the most successful clusters of the EU13-countries.
In Spain, conditioned by its political structure, cluster policy originally developed regionally. In 2006, the Spanish central government founded its first national programme for cluster support.
Cluster policy in the Czech Republic lies in the responsibility of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. In 2004, Czech cluster initiatives for the first time profited from a cluster-specific funding programme. These ministerial programmes are since operatively executed by “CzechInvest” and financed by European Union funds.
Cluster policy in Turkey is primarily implemented by the SME-development organization KOSGEB that is connected to the Ministry of Science, Industry, and Technology. So-called Regional Development Agencies (RDA) inside the Ministry of Development foster the work of cluster initiatives in the respective regions.
The Ukrainian cluster development agency implements current cluster policies. It supports Ukrainian cluster management organisations in initialising and advancing of programmes and strengthens collaboration on local, regional, national, and international levels.
First cluster structures in Hungary exist since 2000. In Hungary, the Ministry for International Affairs and Trade is responsible for the national cluster policy. “Klaszterfejlesztes” functions as a central cluster platform that informs about current developments, analyses, publications, and international projects and provides an overview on the Hungarian cluster landscape.
Platforms promoting the establishment of a Europe-wide network of cluster participants through innovation and cluster policy measures are:
- EU Cluster Portal
- European Cluster Collaboration Platform
- European Cluster Observatory
- European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI)
- European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT)
The European countries are running various programmes to foster the development of high-performance clusters. In doing so, they focus on various aspects, such as the establishment of structures, the funding of research and development projects, and financial support for regional development, attracting investment, and internationalisation activities.