Creating a world class cluster of ‘cleantech’ businesses

The ECO WORLD STYRIA project has set out to increase the concentration of successful clean technology (cleantech) companies in the Austrian region of Styria (Steiermark) and ensure that this cluster becomes a top location worldwide for cleantech innovators.

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The cleantech cluster ECO WORLD STYRIA was founded in 2005 to specialise in energy and environmental engineering and develop a world level Green Tech Valley in the Austrian province of Styria.

It seeks to increase the international competitiveness of the region through innovation in the area of green technologies and to generate economic growth.

The province has a long tradition in the cleantech sector. ECO WORLD STYRIA plays an important role in the implementation of economic policy in Styria and is financially supported by the Regional Government. It is a key part of the new Styria 2020 economic strategy.

The cluster was set up as a public-private partnership and is driven by a research-industry-government cooperation model designed to take eco-innovation to a higher level. Together with its strategic partners, ECO WORLD STYRIA provides a support structure that permits sustainable growth for its cluster clients in the areas of biomass, solar energy, waste as a resource, and water.

A home for 170 cleantech companies

The region of Styria is now home to more than 170 cleantech companies, of which 15 are world technology leaders in their field. These companies have an average (real) growth rate of 19 % per year – nearly double the worldwide cleantech market growth of 10 % per year.

Cleantech revenues generated by these businesses have risen to EUR 3.1 billion in 2010, equivalent to 9 % of the Gross Regional Product, compared to 5 % in 2005, and Styria now has one of the highest concentrations worldwide of top class clean technology companies within an hour’s drive.

Creating a world-class cluster

As a result, this world-class cluster has also attracted several big companies to move their headquarters to Styria.

Since the beginning of the project, eco-innovative companies have generated 5 000 new jobs, increasing their staff on average by over 10 % per year.

To stimulate service innovation ECO WORLD STYRIA has developed, together with 30 global experts and seven international specialised media, the ‘ECO Future Radar’ book, which focuses on trends and market developments in the cleantech sector. More than 500 companies use the Future Radar to check their business strategy and identify opportunities for service innovation.

Furthermore, the cluster has introduced so-called ‘Technology Round Tables’, bringing together customers, researchers and companies to assist the businesses in developing new technologies and services. ECO WORLD STYRIA was one of 20 pilot clusters that were audited in the pilot phase of the upcoming European Cluster Management Excellence Certificate. It was honoured with the status ‘World Class Cluster’ by reaching 99 % of the maximum score. ECO WORLD STYRIA was ranked ‘N°1 Cleantech Cluster in the World’ by the renowned US Investor’s network Cleantech Group.

The success of the cluster has helped raise the level of self-financing from close to zero at the beginning of the project to well above 40 % of the overall budget (annual fees for the companies, service charges) today.

Total and EU funding

The project “ECO WORLD STYRIA” has a total eligible budget of EUR 888 000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 444 000 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date