The most important cluster terms at a glance

At the beginning of the 1990s, the American economist Michael E. Porter made an assumption about the competitiveness of companies, industries, regions and nations, which formed the basis of modern cluster theory. In view of increasing industrial transformation processes and open global markets, the importance of location is, contrary to expectations, to be regarded as central in terms of economic development and the emergence of cross-sectoral innovations. Innovations primarily arise at the interfaces between different industries and are thus becoming increasingly complex. Particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it is becoming more and more difficult to assert themselves in competition due to the constantly changing framework conditions. This is precisely where cluster initiatives have the potential to contribute by bringing together and networking different actors.

In order to obtain an overview of the most important terms and a uniform understanding of the term “cluster” and the terms closely related to it, the following definitions apply to the Clusterplattform Deutschland.

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Cluster actors

The actors actively participating in a cluster initiative are called cluster actors. These include manufacturing companies, service companies, university and non-university research institutions, knowledge transfer and educational institutions, chambers and associations, as well as business development and regional development institutions. It is essential that the cluster actors are involved in the cluster initiative on a long-term basis, e.g. through association memberships or concluded cooperation and project agreements.

Institut für Innovation und Technik 2019a