Cluster mapping and services

Cluster mapping and services

Cluster mapping is a key ingredient of assessing clusters as it provides rich fact-based analysis of local competitiveness and concentration of economic activities. It is based on a sectoral and cross-sectoral statistical analysisof regional data for several key performance indicators.

Throughout their history, cluster mapping projects have been largely based on the set of cluster codes defined as part of the first systematic cluster mapping done by a team at Harvard Business School. These traditional cluster definitions remain crucial for policy support; they enabled a fact-driven shift from industrial and regional policies focused on backing laggards to an integrated economic development policy organised around 'strengthening strengths' in all regions. They are based on cluster definitions that robustly reflect the linkages between related industries as they have affected the location of economic activities up to now.

The main objective of the cluster mapping in the new phase of the European Cluster Observatory is to put the updated cluster data for Europe, based on the latest cluster definitions, into a broader context of other cluster- and location-specific data relevant for the competitiveness of the clusters. This is a reaction to the difficulties that many decision-makers, especially at regional and cluster levels, have had in the past in relating the narrow sectoral data on cluster specialisation to their policy challenges. The broader context and data now being developed will make this relation much more obvious, enhancing the impact cluster data will have on actual policy.

The toolkit will cover data across the following dimensions:

  • Specialisation and size measures forming the core of the existing cluster mapping
  • Performance measures based on wages and other productivity indicators as well as new business formation
  • Regional context covering both the general competitiveness landscape of a region and the presence of related clusters
  • Collaboration represented by the presence and strength of cluster initiatives and regional social capital
  • Other structural factors such as the structure of firms in clusters

The results of the cluster mapping will make a crucial contribution to help decision-makers across Europe to make more effective use of cluster data when (re)designing their cluster policies for growth through a strategy that sets priorities in areas of existing areas of related capabilities.