One of the biggest challenges facing cluster practitioners and policy makers is how to truly capture the benefit of clustering. With finance under ever increasing pressure the need to show a return on investment for clusters is ever more important. As such the role of cluster evaluation continues to be extremely important.


TCI has often acted as a useful vehicle for members to share and discuss approaches to evaluation. This has emerged as a popular theme at conferences, and there have also been working groups in the past that have tried to capture some of that learning.


As has been explored in many TCI discussions, cluster evaluation frameworks need to not only focus on measuring the final outcome (the effect), but also the softer, more qualitative elements, including the benefits of greater trust and collaboration, and also the process of change (how this happened). 


The working group was established in 2012 following many years of ad hoc discussions of cluster evaluation challenges within TCI. It brings together academics, policy-makers and cluster practitioners from around the world to collectively address the unique challenges of evaluating cluster efforts. It has to date organized 6 workshops and 6 sessions at global conferences, and concrete outputs include a bank of survey questions on collaborative dynamics, a set of guiding principles for cluster evaluation, frameworks to aid the design and implementation of evaluation processes, and contributions to academic knowledge through conferences and papers.


The TCI Cluster Evaluation working group seeks to capture some of this learning, develop overall frameworks and share different techniques to show the value of collaboration and return on investment.


The group is led by TCI Board member Madeline Smith, Head of Strategy, Institute of Design Innovation, The Glasgow School of Art. Watch her introducing the group:


Findings of working group