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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Industrial cluster policy

European Clusters Excellence

The European cluster excellence programme and other capacity-building activities support the excellence of cluster organisations and the services that these small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) intermediaries provide to specialised groups of small businesses.

Cluster internationalisation

This initiative promotes international cluster cooperation by intensifying cluster and business network collaboration across borders and sectoral boundaries within and beyond Europe.

Emerging industries and value chains

Clusters offer a favourable eco-system, which encourages competition and cooperation among firms with different industrial backgrounds, technological and business expertise. This, in turn, helps to reconfigure industrial value chains, leading to the development of emerging industries.

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. Our EU cluster pages provide tools and information on European initiatives, actions and events for clusters and their SMEs to create more world-class clusters across the EU.

What is on this webpage

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 EU’s online hub for industry clusters. Redesigned for simplicity, it allows users to connect and collaborate with over 1,200 clusters across Europe and beyond. Its database now expands to other key actors within the clusters ecosystems.

The ECCP merged with the European Resource Efficiency Knowledge Centre (EREK), adding expertise and state-of-the-art knowledge to help industry through the green transition.

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.

Why clusters matter

Clusters are a major part of the European industrial landscape.

They play a crucial role

  • boosting collaboration and connecting enterprises, especially SMEs, and building bridges across Europe’s ecosystems
  • supporting innovation take-up, internationalisation and scaling-up of SMEs
  • setting up transnational partnerships to better help SMEs access global value chains
  • as change agents in the digital and carbon-neutral ‘green’ transformation

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'.