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European Cluster Observatory

The European Cluster Observatory is a single access point for statistical information, analysis and mapping of clusters and cluster policy in Europe that is aimed at European, national, regional and local policy-makers as well as cluster managers and representatives of SME intermediaries.

It aims to promote the development of more world-class clusters in Europe, with a view to fostering competitiveness and entrepreneurship in emerging industries and facilitating SMEs’ access to clusters and internationalisation activities through clusters.

The ultimate objective is to help Member States and regions in designing smart specialisation and cluster strategies to assist companies in developing new, globally competitive advantages in emerging industries through clusters, and thus strengthen the role of cluster policies for the rejuvenation of Europe’s industry as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy.

In order to achieve this, the European Cluster Observatory provides the following main services:

  • a bi-annual European Cluster Panorama(cluster mapping) providing an update and enrichment of the statistical mapping of clusters in Europe, including for ten related sectors (i.e. cross-sectoral) and a correlation analysis with key competitiveness indicators;
  • European Cluster Trends report analysing cross-sectoral clustering trends, cluster internationalisation and global mega trends of industrial transformations; identifying common interaction spaces; and providing a foresight analysis of industrial and cluster opportunities;
  • a Regional Eco-system Scoreboard setting out strengths and weaknesses of regional and national eco-systems for clusters, and identifying cluster-specific framework conditions for three cross-sectoral collaboration areas;
  • European Stress Test for Cluster Policy, including a self-assessment tool accompanied by policy guidance for developing cluster policies in support of emerging industries;
  • showcasing modern cluster policy practice through advisory support services to six selected model demonstrator regions. The policy advice builds also upon the policy lessons from related initiatives in the area of emerging industries;
  • Bringing together Europe’s cluster policy-makers and stakeholders at the European Cluster Conferences 2014 and 2016 for high-level cluster policy dialogue and learning.

The statistical analysis and policy guidance of the European Cluster Observatory also complement the services of the Smart Specialisation Platform that assists regional and national policy-makers to identify regions with similar policy priority setting and to develop, implement and review their Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3).

Now in its second phase (2014-2016), the European Cluster Observatory is focusing more strongly on cross-sectoral linkages and the competitiveness and entrepreneurship opportunities in emerging industries.

During its first phase (2006-2013), the European Cluster Observatory identified 2017 statistical regional clusters for 28 traded sectors across Europe (of which 155 had a critical mass in terms of size, specialisation and focus) and made available analyses of cluster policies across the EU.

Additional work identified seven emerging industries in the Emerging Industries Reportpdf (6 MB); presented three case studies for cluster-specific framework conditions; launched a pilot European Cluster Excellence Scoreboardpdf (6 MB) and facilitated the work of the Expert Forum on Clusters in Emerging Industries, which in 2013 presented its recommendationspdf (6 MB) for stimulating emerging industries. The results of this work are available at www.clusterobservatory.eu. The European Cluster Observatory is implemented through a service contract from the SMEs: Clusters and Emerging Industries Unit of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

Contact the expert team of the European Cluster Observatory directly at: mzk@vdivde-it.de