The European observatory for clusters and industrial change provides policy support to existing or emerging cluster initiatives at the national and regional level. It does so through its pilot regions in industrial transition, a cluster stress test tool and conceptual outlines and descriptions of modern cluster policy to aid regional structural change and the development of emerging industries. This space is under development, please check back regularly for the latest information.
Dialogue on cluster policy with EU countries
European Expert Group on Clusters
The European Expert Group on Clusters advises the European Commission, EU countries and regions on how to strategically utilise clusters for industrial policy, interregional collaboration and integration of SMEs into EU and global value chains. The participants are representatives of EU countries’ authorities and ten experts, each in their capacity, selected through an open call for applications.
In February 2021, the group published its Recommendation Report on employing clusters to boost the green and digital transitions. The report contains fifteen specific recommendations with examples of good practices. It offers ideas for policymakers at European, national, regional and local levels. It also informs and can inspire cluster managers and cluster members.
European cluster policy forum
The European cluster policy forum brings together EU countries to discuss key topics in the cluster landscape. It is a platform for discussion on how to improve the design and implementation of cluster initiatives. These meetings facilitate peer review and cluster policy learning among experts through interactive knowledge-sharing and experience.
The first meeting in February 2018, organised during the 2018 EU industry day, discussed challenges ahead and how cluster policies can effectively support industrial modernisation and growth in Europe.
The second meeting in April 2018 discussed the labelling of clusters, several projects promoting cluster manager mobility and the application of EU State aid rules.
The third meeting in November 2018 discussed how clusters and local/regional ecosystems can accelerate entrepreneurship, industrial modernisation and growth and how policies can support this process.
The fourth meeting in March 2019 discussed skills and internationalisation.
Watch the European cluster policy forum video
The discussions of the European cluster forum now continue as part of the official commission expert group on clusters.
See the presentations from
Pilot regions in industrial transition
We launched the pilot action on 'regions in industrial transition' early in 2018 to help regions in an industrial transition develop new approaches to restore their growth and productivity. 8 regions and 2 small EU countries were selected to work in partnership with a teams of experts from the European Commission to boost their innovation capacity, remove investment barriers, equip workers with the right skills and prepare for industrial and societal change, based on their smart specialisation strategies. By focusing on specific challenges related to industrial transition, the pilot develops new policy tools for regions and cities to address these challenges. Through an open call for expression of interest, the following 10 regions in industrial transition received customised advice on modern cluster policy in support of industrial modernisation
- Cantabria (Spain)
- Centre Val de Loire (France)
- East & North Finland
- Hauts-de-France (France)
- North-Middle Sweden
- Piemonte (Italy)
- Saxony (Germany)
- Wallonia (Belgium)
The first phase of the pilot action on regions in industrial transition analysed existing policy instruments and identified future challenges. These regions benefited from tailored assistance from Commission experts organised in 'regional' teams from several Commission departments and from the European observatory for clusters and industrial change. In collaboration with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, the OECD organised a series of thematic peer-learning workshops from which several policy conclusions on addressing industrial transition were drawn. The summary report on modern cluster policy in regions summarises the EOCIC's work in the 10 pilot regions in industrial transition and proposes concrete policy proposals tailored to the regions’ needs. It shows clusters as a key driver for smart specialisation and how modern cluster policy can help shape regional industrial transition.
The European observatory for clusters and industrial change
The European observatory for clusters and industrial change (EOCIC) provides policy support to existing or emerging cluster initiatives at national and regional level. It does so through conceptual outlines and descriptions of modern cluster policy that promote regional structural change and emerging industries' development.
The EOCIC helps Europe's regions and countries design better and more evidence‐based cluster policies and initiatives to
- develop world‐class clusters with competitive industrial value chains that cut across sectors
- support industrial modernisation
- foster entrepreneurship in emerging industries with growth potential
- bring together Europe’s cluster policy-makers and stakeholders during dedicated events
- improve SMEs' access to clusters and internationalisation activities
- enable more strategic interregional collaboration and investment to implement smart specialisation strategies
EOCIC builds on the work of the European cluster observatory and the European Service Innovation Centre. Yet, with more focus on industrial change and its key drivers, such as service innovation, entrepreneurship, key enabling technologies, digitalisation, creativity and eco‐innovative as well as resource-efficient solutions. A set of indicators operationalises each of these dimensions with a particular focus on measuring start-ups and scale-ups.
The European observatory for clusters and industrial change has published several analytical reports.
Analytical tools for EU Cluster Policy
Cluster mapping tool
The cluster mapping tool shows the cluster mapping analysis of the regional ecosystem scoreboard. It displays sectoral, cross-sectoral, and regional indicators of cluster specialisation and size, business performance, regional context and other statistical information. Users can visualise
- relative cluster strength and cluster development over time
- cluster and regional strength across sectors and emerging industries
- and linkages between clusters, industrial change, innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development
These indicators' data highlight potential areas for new cluster policies.
Regional eco-system scoreboard
The regional eco-system scoreboard for clusters and industrial change illustrates conditions for successful cluster development and industrial change by region in Europe. The scoreboard identifies what works and where each region's bottlenecks lie. This helps you, as a policymaker, practitioner or business, play to your strengths and identify barriers to modernisation in regional industries.
The scoreboard looks at 8 dimensions of industrial change
- the conditions for innovation
- new and emerging technologies
- firm investments
We base these dimensions on 65 indicators which feed 19 sub-dimensions. The scoreboard also targets innovation and entrepreneurship based on the following 6 dimensions
- Entrepreneurial conditions
- knowledge base and skills
- collaboration and internationalisation
- access to finance
- demand conditions
- quality of governance
You can use the scoreboard to analyse individual regions or to compare European regions to each other.
Together, the cluster mapping tool and the regional eco-system scoreboard provide a systemic picture of clusters, industrial patterns and regional eco-systems across Europe.
Cluster programmes in Europe and beyond
How do European countries and regions support cluster activities? What are the main objectives, measures and target groups of cluster programmes? What do cluster policies in other parts of the world focus on? These and other questions are answered by the report 'cluster programmes in Europe and beyond'. This document investigates cluster support in 29 European countries, 49 regions in Europe, and 10 countries outside of Europe (Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and the USA). In-depth analyses of a broad range of cluster programmes across Europe and beyond show which goals cluster programmes in different parts of the world pursue and how they are met. Overall, the report reveals that cluster policies are widespread, and that cluster support is a crucial instrument for economic development in Europe and worldwide.
Smart guides on clusters
Policymakers and cluster organisations can use the guides for inspiration when designing and implementing more effective initiatives by learning from good practices across Europe.
The smart guide to entrepreneurship support through clusters helps cluster policymakers and cluster managers in designing and implementing programmes that accelerate the creation of start-ups, spin-offs and scale-ups in emerging industries and in specific value chains. This guide focuses on innovative entrepreneurship and shows how clusters can mobilise resources to effectively support entrepreneurship throughout the entire entrepreneurial life cycle. The guide shows that entrepreneurship support through clusters can be a driver of SME competitiveness, industrial modernisation and job creation. It presents 12 examples of good practices of entrepreneurship support programmes delivered through a cluster approach. There is no 'one size fits all' approach. The good practices are a mix of cluster support measures and implementation frameworks for resilient entrepreneurial ecosystems. The guide concludes by identifying 7 do’s and don'ts for effective entrepreneurship support programmes. Some of the smart guide's examples were also presented during the European cluster policy forum on 15 November 2018, which also focused on how clusters can accelerate entrepreneurship.
The smart guide to cluster policy explains how to design and run effective monitoring and evaluation systems for cluster policy. It aims at stimulating policy learning and tackles specific challenges. Monitoring and evaluation are crucial to the cluster policy process but are hardly amenable to standard monitoring and evaluation practices. This is because clusters’ material and immaterial benefits are difficult to identify and quantify and because cluster policies mobilise multiple instruments across different policies and at different levels of governance. Cluster policy, therefore, requires tailor-made monitoring and evaluation approaches capable of capturing the specificity of clusters and cluster policies.
The smart guide mainly addresses cluster policymakers and cluster managers engaged in cluster policymaking. It has concrete methodological guidance and practical indications on how to effectively monitor and evaluate cluster policies, in an easy to read format. Throughout the smart guide, numerous concrete cases of monitoring and evaluation systems and approaches from different European and extra European countries are referred to illustrate the options proposed.
The smart guide for European strategic cluster partnerships (ESCPs) helps the partnerships develop a successful strategy and determine actions to create joint projects and get investments. Therefore, the smart guide lists the main challenges and specific barriers faced by ESCPs. This relates to establishing and improving partnerships as well as to fostering innovation, cooperation and internationalisation. Considering this, the guide gives recommendations to create sustainable partnership strategies and joint activities, as well as a sample of related good practices.
The smart guide for European strategic cluster partnerships summarises the received support. The guide lists the main challenges and specific barriers faced by ESCP. See more on the European cluster partnerships event.
European cluster events
The European Cluster Conference
The European Cluster Conference supports European strategic cluster partnerships, joint efforts under the thematic smart specialisation platform for industrial modernisation, and SMEs' growth by turning start-ups into scale-ups. It brings together high-level policymakers, practitioners and experts to discuss the latest cluster policy trends, future challenges and best practices in cluster excellence, internationalisation, SME innovation and more.
See more about the 2019 European cluster conference
Watch the 2019 conference video
European Strategic Cluster Partnerships events
At these events, participants discuss and share ideas with cluster partnership representatives on relevant topics and update each other on EU cluster initiatives.
The first-ever joint meeting for European Cluster Partnerships supported under the COSME and Horizon 2020 programmes took place in 2018 and gathered over 100 attendees. It included representatives of the 45 European strategic cluster partnerships and the 13 INNOSUP-1 cluster projects for new industrial value chains.
See more about the European cluster partnerships event
Watch the partnering event after-movie
EU cluster weeks
The EU cluster weeks promote cluster event participation and showcase how clusters support SME growth, industrial transformation and regional economic development. The cluster week events give participants across Europe a chance to share experiences, best practices, challenges and policy needs. The first edition took place between November 2018 and April 2019, with 46 events and nearly 6,000 participants across 22 EU countries.
See more on the EU Cluster Weeks