Studies on Innovative Practices
Edited by Mattias Elg, Per- Erik Ellström, Magnus Klofsten and Malin Tillmar
Chapter 16: Understanding cluster initiatives in Europe – uniqueness and contextuality
Clusters have become an increasingly important feature in the process of forming regional policies and business strategies (Perry, 2007; Sölvell, 2009). They are viewed as entities enhancing innovation and regional development through partnerships, joint learning and exchange of competencies (Jacobs and De Man, 1996; Keeble and Wilkinson, 1999; Porter, 2000; Singh, 2003; Giuliani and Bell, 2005). The acknowledgement of these cluster benefits, according to Shou and Intarakumnerd (2013) and Visser and Atzema (2008), has been facilitated by hybrid or intermediary organizations, which assist the innovation process. One specific type of intermediary is a cluster initiative (CI), which is sometimes launched within clusters. This is the main focus of this chapter (Lundequist and Power, 2002; Sölvell et al., 2003; Laur et al., 2012). Benefits for national economic strength and sustenance of well-paying jobs delivered by cluster initiatives have been recognized in Europe and the USA. A number of programs have been introduced aiming to help establish such organizations in existing clusters and regions (Mills et al., 2008). These organizations can be defined as ‘collaborative efforts of different market actors to improve competitiveness of neighboring territory (city, region, country) or specific cluster in that area by creating interactive platforms and dialogues between sectors’ (Ketels and Memedovic, 2008, p. 384).
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