Cluster policies are to be understood as framework policies rather than as “hands-on” interventionist policies that pretend to know the future better than the market. Due to increasing globalisation and industrial transformation, the challenges that cluster policymakers and programme owners face are significant. Policy approaches that have worked well over many years are no longer applicable in the future. A future-oriented cluster policy has to support both “places” and “issues”, like the new value chains that interlink companies of different branches. When new industries emerge and new value chains develop, new capabilities are becoming increasingly important, among others innovation culture, innovation infrastructure, and innovation speed. The paper attempts to set up core design features of future cluster policies in order to better cope with upcoming challenges. It also looks at the implications for regions pondering how to design and implement their smart specialization strategies for better regional economic growth.
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