ClusteriX: supporting innovation by linking regional clusters

To better leverage European innovation and technological knowhow, the EU-funded ClusteriX project created links between European regional innovation clusters, resulting in new opportunities for collaboration and higher levels of productivity.

Additional tools

ClusteriX’s Competence Mapping tool has helped to establish important business-to-business contacts between clusters. © Simone Hagenauer (ecoplus Austria) ClusteriX’s Competence Mapping tool has helped to establish important business-to-business contacts between clusters. © Simone Hagenauer (ecoplus Austria)

" Experience shows that innovation and new technology often emerge from existing industries and clusters. For this reason, we need to approach the development of innovation clusters from a strategic policy perspective, which requires new processes for identifying existing cluster competences, global technological trends, and how these competences can be cross-matched to ensure cross-regional specialisation. "

Simone Hagenauer, ecoplus, The Business Agency of Lower Austria

Thanks to the ClusteriX project, policymakers and experts from eight cluster-strong countries convened to address such essential topics as funding cluster development, funnelling emerging industries through clusters and creating positive frameworks for linking the know-how available in regional innovation clusters. 

Based on these initial conversations, ClusteriX created a roadmap for implementing cross-regional best practices for clusters, increasing the competitiveness of European regions and their potential for innovation, and laying the groundwork for an interregional cluster network. 

The importance of clusters

According to various studies, companies operating within a cluster achieve higher levels of productivity and innovation. Clusters also support emerging industries and services by providing a positive environment that supports interaction and cooperation between regional innovation actors. 

For these reasons, European policy and the initiatives of the European Cluster Policy Group (ECPG) have long supported regional technology and innovation clusters. And although these efforts have been largely successful, they are no longer enough. What is now needed is a means to improve framework conditions for creating links between different economic sectors and technologies – which is where the ClusteriX project came in. 

One of the project’s key objectives was to better leverage European innovation and know-how by creating synergies and linking technologies across existing regional cluster networks. To accomplish this, the project introduced existing regional clusters to the concept of ‘Competence Mapping’ – a methodology combining a self-assessment of companies, patent research and workshops with cluster managers and external innovation experts – that provides a systematic approach to identifying potential opportunities for cross-sector innovation and developing regional economic fields of strength. 

Another focus was improving the effectiveness of how public money was spent on cross-cluster cooperation. Here ClusteriX helped regions understand public procurement for innovation, for example by allowing the purchase of innovative solutions rather than goods and service as usual. 

Clustering regions with regions

As a result of this multi-faceted approach, ClusteriX successfully strengthened cross-sector links, both within and across regions. After the project concluded, the best practices and tools implemented by ClusteriX continued to have an impact. 

For example, the Competence Mapping tool, which was transferred from Lower Austria to South Tyrol, Sweden and Romania during the course of the project, has since been used to analyse nearly 80 companies and R&D institutions across Europe. This not only led to the identification of potential new innovations within clusters, but has also helped establish important business-to-business contacts between clusters.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Clusters for European Innovation Cross-Linking” is EUR 1 687 872, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 296 064 through the “INTERREG IVC” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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