Recommendations for cluster policies to boost resilience and foster the green and digital transitions

Submitted by Imogen Allan on 25 February 2021

The European Expert Group on Clusters recently published a recommendation report on how to use clusters to boost the green and digital transitions and resilience.

The report contains 15 specific recommendations, along with examples of good practices. It offers ideas for policymakers at European, national, regional, and local levels. It also informs and can potentially inspire cluster managers and members.

The report recommends focusing cluster activities on:

• leading the green transition;

• accelerating the digital transition;

• building resilience.

Leading the green transition

The transition towards a clean, circular, and climate neutral economy requires clusters to act agents of change, connecting bottom-up and top-down initiatives. Public authorities and groups of companies will co-design environmental and climate policies, as well as adapt policy instruments, to suit the needs of the industrial ecosystems. Clusters must develop and implement circular economy strategies, promote an entrepreneurial culture for green businesses among SMEs, and participate in European green innovation alliances. Further capacity building will enable green-tech firms to advise on the green transition and demonstrate its benefits.

Accelerating the digital transition

Clusters should develop a robust ICT industry and facilitate the uptake of digital solutions. Close cooperation with employment, education, and research organisations allows them to act as part of the local education and training structures. Hence, clusters need to mobilise and implement the European Skills Agenda initiatives, such as the Pact for Skills. They should be an integral part of Digital Innovation Hubs and reinforce relevant public-private partnerships, supporting the integration of physical and digital systems.

Building resilience

Policies should assist clusters in building and using the collective intelligence of their members to cope with challenges and undergo transitions. Groups of enterprises must anticipate changes and operate as a network in order to find supply and market alternatives.

The matching of reskilling and upskilling with business needs includes an active role for clusters in local labour markets, which need receive support with social and ecological innovation.  Clusters should be used to identify and implement shared value initiatives to address societal challenges in local communities.

Measures are required to create capacity for SMEs to enter global value chains and benefit from the EU’s free trade agreements. Cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary, and transnational collaboration should be encouraged through the creation of a new generation of strategic partnerships.

The informal European Cluster Expert Group was set up by the European Commission in May 2019. The participants are representatives of EU Member States’ authorities, as well as  ten experts in different areas selected through an open call for applications.

The full report is available below in PDF.

report EU expert group
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