The report presents an overview of how clusters contribute to the competitiveness of the European economy. It analyses cluster strength across 51 exporting industry sectors in Europe and identifies 2,950 regional industrial clusters. These industrial clusters account for almost one in four European jobs (61.8 million jobs or 23.4% of total employment) and about half of total employment in exporting industries (50.3%). The majority of the 51 exporting industry sectors have at least 50% of their employment in clusters.
The report introduces a new, further refined methodology to distinguish strong clusters according to performance levels. It identifies 198 high-performing clusters across Europe, which are regional concentrations of exporting industries. Moreover, it identifies 898 medium-performing clusters and 1,854 basic-performing clusters.
Productivity in clusters is much higher than average productivity, corresponding to a 25% above-average productivity effect. Productivity increases with cluster strength: in basic-performing and medium-performing clusters productivity is 10-15% above average, while productivity in high-performing clusters is more than twice as high as the average (+140%).
The report also looks into the role of firm size in explaining cluster strength. Compared to other major international economies, where large firms are more dominant, Europe’s specialisation is driven by both large firms and SMEs equally. This result underlines the importance of SMEs for the European economy.