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Clustering and City Competitiveness

cluster_smallIn a time when Europe must be restructured economically after the recession, clustering presents an ideal way to ensure local economic development and the EU’ s future competitiveness, based on integrated, robust foundations that raise productivity and the implementation of innovation, according to “Clustering and City Competitiveness – an introduction’ guide.

This guide, published from the EUROCITIES Clusters Working Group, seeks to explain clustering and its impacts in an accessible way. The result is that officers and politicians not involved in cluster support on a day-to-day basis can fully appreciate the importance of the subject area. City examples are highlighted to ensure that the real world application of ideas and interventions are made clear. Finally the EU level policy and support framework is explored to ensure that those engaging in cluster activities, and perhaps the work of the EUROCITIES Clusters Working Group, are aware of the extent to which clustering is increasingly Important at the EU level.


Diagram from Sölvell, O. 2009. Clusters ‘“ Balancing Evolutionary and Constructive Forces. Stockholm: Ivory Tower Publishers.

The report concludes that:

  • Clusters are not simply a theoretical tool, but are instead multifaceted, often contested instruments for local economic development. Based on close linkages between businesses and other economic stakeholders from across sectoral boundaries, clusters are argued to drive forward all aspects of economic development from innovation to business creation. For this reason they should be seen as a cross cutting element of overall economic policy, as opposed to a specialised concern. There is little doubt that clusters have a major impact on economies, but more could be done to quantify how impacts vary according to the type of cluster, in order to facilitate more tailored and effective policies and programmes in the future.
  • As we now move to a new economic cycle based on recovery and restructuring, clustering has the potential to be a critical instrument for cities that will drive future competitiveness. Cities across the EU have a unique combination of skills, experiences and resources brought about by agglomeration that allows them to promote clustering more effectively than any other governance level in the EU. By drawing together human resources, financial support, infrastructure development and partnership promotion cities can develop effective clustering policies based on existing mainstream interventions. Whilst the EU does provide valuable guidance and support for those driving forward clustering, there is undoubtedly potential for more support in the future.
  • This support would be based on sound foundations. As has been demonstrated the EU has addressed clustering in several significant policy documents, yet this has often been in a specialist manner. Given the importance of clustering we may expect to see new general and strategic economic development policies incorporate clustering as a mainstream tool. Such a move could impact on practical support, as well as even greater impetus for city based clustering initiatives in the future.
  • The overall message regarding clustering is positive ‘“ cities are already at the cutting edge of implementing cluster programmes that will drive EU competitiveness, and more cities can benefit from developing their own programmes based on simple yet effective principles and interventions.


Clustering and City Competitiveness – an introduction (PDF Document)