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 initiative

Cluster initiatives are regionally concentrated economic and scientific cooperation networks with a mutual thematic focus. They usually cover the various stages of the value chain (vertical networking) and different sectors and disciplines (horizontal networking). Cluster initiatives are characterised by intensive, target-oriented interaction between the actors involved. The cooperation has a committed character and is aimed at sustainability as well as longer-term target perspectives. Cluster initiatives have stable organisational structures including a management body (cluster management organisation).

Institut für Innovation und Technik 2019a