What is a Cluster?

Layers aims to serve members of SME Clusters. In Layers, two large and strategic sectors for Europe have been chosen as the focus audience, which allow Layers to scale up on a large group of users: from the Health and the Construction sector clusters.

Definition of “clusters”

“Clusters are defined by the co-location of producers, services providers, educational and research institutions, financial institutions and other private and government institutions related through linkages of different types. There is huge diversity among clusters: they differ in terms of their stage of development along the cluster life cycle; some are networks of SMEs, some are organized around key anchor firms, and yet others have developed around universities….

Innovation is increasingly characterised as an open process, in which many different actors—companies, customers, investors, universities, and other organisations—cooperate in a complex ways. Ideas move across institutional boundaries more frequently. The traditional linear model of innovation with clearly assigned roles for basic research at the university, and applied research in a company R&D centre, is no longer relevant. Innovation can benefit from geographic proximity which facilitates the flows of tacit knowledge and the unplanned interactions that are critical parts of the innovation process. This is one of the reasons why innovation occurs locally whereas its benefits spread more widely through productivity gains.

Clusters may embody the characteristics of the modern innovation process: they can be considered as “reduced scale innovation systems”7. Successful clusters encapsulate all the activities needed to deliver a particular value to customers; they cross the traditional definitions of industries and of manufacturing versus services. They can emerge even where companies’ locations are not determined by the location of markets or natural resources. Their specific nature, including their spatial coverage, differs according to technology, market conditions, and other factors that influence the geographic extent and relative strength of
linkages…. ”

Text taken from: Innovation clusters in Europe – A statistical analysis and overview of current policy support

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