The definition of cluster

Clusters are groups of specialised enterprises – often SMEs – and other related supporting actors that cooperate closely together in a particular location.  In working together SMEs can be more innovative, create more jobs and register more international trademarks and patents than they would alone. The EU Cluster Portal provides tools and information on key European initiatives, actions and events for clusters and their SMEs with the aim of creating more world-class clusters across the EU.

Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies or institutions that manufacture products or deliver services to a particular field or industry. Clusters typically include companies in the same industry or technology area that share infrastructure, suppliers, and distribution networks. Supporting firms that provide components, support services, and raw materials come together with like minded firms in related industries to develop joint solutions and combine resources to take advantage of market opportunities. These are groups of related businesses and organizations—sometimes direct competitors, but more often operating in a complementary manner. They may comprise more than just one industry classification, and a true cluster is more than just a supplier-producer-buyer model.

Clusters operate together in regional markets. 38% of European jobs are based in such regional strongholds and SME participation in clusters leads to more innovation and growth.
There are about 2000 statistical clusters in Europe, of which 150 are considered to be world-class in terms of employment, size, focus and specialisation.

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform

European Cluster Collaboration Platform is a service facility aiming to provide cluster organisations modern tools, its an EU-funded project with the aim to support cluster collaboration as part of broader innovation ecosystems. European Cluster Collaboration Platform provides a panel of services to support international collaboration: large data base of clusters, matchmaking, international events, supporting B2B actions, country analysis reports, etc.

The information mentioned above allow to:

  • make efficient use of networking instruments (search/find potential partners and  opportunities)
  • develop collaboration trans-nationally (within Europe) and internationally (beyond Europe)
  • support the emergence of new value chains through cross-sectorial cooperation
  • access the latest quality information on cluster development
  • improve their performance and increase their – as well as their members’ - competitiveness.

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform offers both virtual facilities and live activities like cluster matchmaking events to be organized both in Europe and beyond.

The virtual services include:

  • a dynamic mapping of profiled cluster organisations worldwide with new search facilities based on special filters
  • detailed information on the European Strategic Cluster Partnerships
  • a “marketplace” where cluster organisations can exchange their offers and demands
  • existing “gateways” as organizations supporting SMEs internationalisation processes
  • a unique collection of profiled cluster-related projects developed under various European programmes besides special sections for matchmaking or for showcasing good practices as inspiration sources.

ECCP shapes its services primarily for the needs of cluster managements, but its rich content can be useful for both the cluster membersand for the cluster policy makers at regional, national or international level. Although the European cluster organisations, by their number and long history of development, make an important part of the platform, ECCP is open and connected to the whole world, with a special focus on certain specific third countries of strategic interest (see “International Cooperation”).

Being at the service of cluster organisations, with a unique offer of facilities and tools to create a favourable environment for collaboration to emerge and develop, ECCP aims to become the leading European hub for international cluster cooperation, building cluster bridges between Europe and the world.

Innoskart is one of the many members of The European Cluster Collaboration Platform and, like other clusters, also uses the possibility to internationalise and connect with clusters from different countries.

Benefits of clustering:

  1. increased productivity (through specialized inputs, access to information,synergies, and access to public goods)
  2. more rapid innovation (throughcooperative research and competitive striving)
  3. new business formation (filling in niches and expanding the boundaries of the cluster map).

Clustering helps cities and counties direct their economic development and recruiting efforts. It also encourages communities to refocus efforts on existing industries. Clusters also help attract foreign investment. If clusters are leading centers for their industries, they will attract all the key players from both home and abroad. For small and developing businesses, locating in a cluster near competitors and related industries may aid the firm in faster growth, recognition, and status within the market.

TCI-  the global practicioners network for competitiveness, clusters and innovation

TCI Network is the leading global network of main organizations and practitioners with deep expertise in clusters and competitiveness, who collaborate in a unique open, flexible and practical context to advance in the practice of competitiveness, innovation and cluster development.

Through its activities, TCI reaches out to 9,000 practitioners from development agencies, government departments, cluster organizations, academic institutions, companies and multilateral organizations in over 110 countries.

For more information you can watch these videos:

  1. Why clusters matter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxcNbz-Hg9o
  2. About TCI Network https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNDA29kBuyU

Sources:

https://ec.europa.eu/growth/smes/cluster_en

http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/small/Bo-Co/Clusters.html

http://www.clustercollaboration.eu/vibrant-platform-service-cluster-organisations

http://www.tci-network.org/about_us