Clusters are groups of firms, related economic actors, and institutions located near each other and with sufficient scale to develop specialised expertise, services, resources, suppliers and skills. Together, SMEs can be more innovative, create more jobs, and register more international trademarks and patents than alone. There are over 1500 clusters located in more than 200 EU-27 regions. Clusters account for almost 25% of total EU employment.
EU cluster actions
EU cluster policy uses clusters to implement EU priorities. We list some of our actions below.
European cluster partnerships
These EU-wide consortiums pool resources and knowledge to work concretely together on initiatives supporting their industrial ecosystems and, in particular, their SMEs. Partnerships can focus on internationalisation, innovation, smart specialisation investments or excellence.
See more on European cluster partnerships.
The European Cluster Collaboration Platform
The European online hub for industry clusters maps and supports their work through dedicated services, including matchmaking events.
See more on the European Cluster Collaboration Platform.
Find a wealth of partners per country, region, sector or industrial ecosystem in the EU or around the world.
See more on Cluster mapping.
European Cluster Panorama
Read our report analysing the location and characteristics of clusters in the regions they are in.
See more on the European Cluster Panorama.
Advanced technologies for industry
Check out our technology watch in the EU and abroad.
See more on Advanced technologies for industry.
The Technical Assistance Facility for Industrial Modernisation and Investment has provided project promoters, under the S3P-Industry platform, the opportunity to work with business, corporate finance and legal experts from leading business advisory firms to improve their business plans and investment readiness of their interregional projects. See more on Interregional Investment under the Technical Assistance Facility for Industrial Modernisation and Investment.
Supporting the green transition in the EU and beyond
The European Resource Efficiency Knowledge Centre is your reference point on business competitiveness through resource efficiency. Its knowledge base helps you calculate savings offered by resource efficiency technologies and measures. Find EU experts to help you be more resource-efficient.
The low carbon and circular economy business action in the Americas helps commercialise the green low-carbon technologies of European companies and business partners in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia and Mexico, in sectors of high sustainable impact.
Support for policymakers
We support policymakers dealing with cluster policy through actions such as
- the Cluster Policy Toolkit, a searchable database of good practices in cluster policy
- the Toolbox on interregional investment and case studies, allowing you to offer technical assistance for industrial modernisation and investment
- the Country factsheets, informing on national cluster policies and advanced technologies
See everything on support for policymakers.
Dialogue 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 country 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 15 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.
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.
European Observatory for Clusters and Industrial Change
Emerging industries and value chains
Clusters offer a favourable ecosystem that encourages competition and cooperation among firms with different industrial backgrounds, technological and business expertise. In turn, this helps to reconfigure industrial value chains, leading to the development of emerging industries.
See emerging industries and value chains.
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 specialised groups of small businesses.
See European Clusters Excellence.