Industrial clusters are groups of specialised enterprises, often SMEs, and other related supporting actors in a location that cooperate closely. Together, SMEs can be more innovative, create more jobs, and register more international trademarks and patents than alone. The EU cluster portal provides tools and information on European initiatives, actions and events for clusters and their SMEs to create more world-class clusters across the EU.
These EU cluster initiatives were launched under the COSME and Horizon2020 programmes to support SME innovation and growth.
The expert group on clusters is developing recommendations for the next generation for joint cluster initiatives under the single market programme 2021-2027.
The European cluster collaboration platform (ECCP) is the main hub facilitating cluster cooperation within the EU and beyond. It connects over 1,000 cluster organisations across Europe, reaching out to over 100,000 SMEs, some 8,000 large firms and about 11,000 universities and other research organisations.
The platform hosts information about events, initiatives and calls addressed to the clusters’ community. It is the main tool for organising cluster matchmaking events and raising visibility for European, national and regional cluster related events (e.g. EU cluster weeks).
The smart specialisation platform complements the ECCP. It helps regional and national policy-makers develop and implement their research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation. In addition, innovation hubs and knowledge innovation communities supported by the EIT supplement cluster activities.
Clusters are a major part of the European industrial landscape.
They play a crucial role
There are around 3000 specialised clusters in Europe, accounting for 54 million jobs. Clusters are represented in all parts of Europe and have shown resilience during economic crises. They nurture growth and jobs, e.g. 3% higher wages and the 67,700 fast-growing enterprises in clusters employ more staff than other enterprises (35 compared to 24).
The renewed EU industrial policy strategy recognises clusters as a powerful economic development tool to support industrial innovation on the ground. They're also highlighted in the 2017 smart specialisation communication on 'strengthening innovation in Europe's regions' and the 2016 communication on the 'start-up and scale-up initiative'.