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News archive - Results from the CluStrat Project on the role of clusters in cross-sector innovation


EU project explores the potential of clusters for cross-sector innovation.

Clusters are regional hubs of competences in a given industry or technology branch, representing a critical mass of actors from R&D, industry and other institutional contexts. They are seen as an essential trigger in innovation policy to make European SMEs more competitive. Maintaining and improving the competitiveness of clusters in Europe is the core aim of CLUSTRAT, an EU-backed project.

In October 2011, 18 partners from eight European countries joined forces to launch the consortium behind CLUSTRAT with the aim of cultivating cross-sector innovation and tapping the potential of clusters. The project has already achieved some notable successes and is credited with triggering a change in cluster policy in the participating regions.

CLUSTRAT has identified three main factors necessary for cluster success, including the need for a systemic coordination of actors across all relevant technologies and also the necessity for a demand-driven approach.

Several pilot actions are currently being implemented by the consortium, with the aim being to establish new multidisciplinary cross-cluster collaboration. They include a cluster of social entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic and another pilot which aims to assess possible applications of the key-enabling technologies (KET) advanced manufacturing. KET technologies cover everything from nanoelectronics to biotechnology.

It is also hoped that the initiative will provide solutions for new cross-cutting areas such as active and healthy ageing.

It has become apparent during the course of the project that cluster policy has a part to play in activating - at an early stage - the opportunities foreseen by the EU's Horizon 2020 programme.

During the following months, CLUSTRAT will issue recommendations on how best to create the framework conditions deemed necessary to unlock such potential, for instance through future ERDF programmes.

With the transnational consortium due to end its work in October 2014, CLUSTRAT has already shown that cluster policy has potentially an important role to play in preparing for the demands and opportunities posed by societal challenges, such as demographics and climate change.

Dr Petra Puchner, managing director of Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum and coordinator of CLUSTRAT, said, 'It is impressive to see how CLUSTRAT has already triggered a change in cluster policy and regional cluster landscapes in the participating regions.'

This had been underlined, added Puchner, by the 'already achieved' results of the pilot actions in participating regions.

Further reaction to the success of the initiative came from Prof Norbert Höptner, director of Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum, who commented, 'Companies need to know the market opportunities related to the emerging industries and how to exploit them. Innovation at the interface of different technologies and industries is a key capacity in this respect. Cluster initiatives can function as an important leverage in this respect, but policy needs to create the right framework conditions.'

The three-year project is coordinated by Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum in close coordination and with financial support from the Baden-Württemberg ministry of finance and economics as well as the EU´s Regional Development Fund.

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Geographical focus
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Entry created by Ivan Zupan on April 23, 2014
Modified on April 23, 2014