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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Innovation clusters

An innovation cluster is the institutionalised, long-term cooperation between regional industrial and research partners with the aim of achieving a sustainable improvement of the innovation dynamics. Usually, these are practice-oriented project clusters, which are emerging between different companies, science and research institutions and which drive the further development of the location through interdisciplinary research and innovation. In this way, the existing thematic relevant research and development resources are bundled, and the generation of new knowledge and its implementation in innovations as well as its transfer to the economy is fostered.

Müller-Prothmann und Dörr 2009, Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz 2010