Clusters and cluster initiatives have in the past 20 years become a key component in utilizing the strengths of national and regional competitiveness strategies. Cluster programs and initiatives are today established in all developed and in many developing countries.
What is a cluster?
Organizations and scholars have developed several definitions of what a cluster is. In general, most theories agree that a cluster should be composed of organizations covering the “triple helix”, within a geographical defined area. Professor Michael E. Porter offers the following definition of a cluster:
"A cluster is a geographical proximate group of interconnected companies and associated institutions in a particular field, linked by commonalities and externalities." (Michael E. Porter, On Competition)
The cluster theory is based on the notion that clusters have certain characteristics, which contribute to enhance innovation, growth and competitiveness of regions and the companies which are part of clusters. However, some of the synergies within a cluster are latent, and in order to fulfill and exploit these synergies, a cluster initiative can be established.
"Cluster initiatives are organized efforts to increase the growth and competitiveness of a cluster within a region, involving cluster firms, government and/or the research community." (Örjan Sölvell, Göran Lindqvist and Christian Ketels, The Cluster Initiative Greenbook, Ivory Tower AB, 2003)
A cluster initiative is led by a cluster organization, which initiates and strengthens joint activities among its members related to: