Clusters and the validity of international cooperation

The concept of cluster, commonly associated with a key engine of growth and business competitiveness, became pregnant in the economy and public policy. Since the late 1990s, and even earlier for some areas, clusters of courses have increased, relayed by a conscious policy to support and strengthen a movement born out of its institutional bodies. Today, clusters further strengthen the principle of open where they sit opening internationally and by cooperating with other clusters, national or foreign innovation.

Clusters have taken different names, at different times and countries and even between regions, ranging from industrial districts, one application was made in Italy, the French competitiveness clusters, through production systems premises or other innovation clusters. Even beyond the diversity of terms, clusters cover very different realities, some led by a management organization, often a combination, as with legal existence and contractual relationships between their members, while others enjoy a state looser formalization. As trite cluster, so we note that this is a geographic concentration of companies, research centers and institutions operating in the same industry and interconnected by links of various kinds. Despite the diversity of these situations, the concept of cluster and provides, in addition to the practical advantage of using a common term in different regions, the possibility to cover structures that, despite their differences, can find common interests and operate together.

Open innovation correlated to the formation of clusters has positive externalities for the cluster members: access to specific human skills, infrastructure sharing, knowledge transfer, emulation due to the closeness of companies and research centers ... A paradox apparent may therefore raise questions about the validity of an inter-cluster cooperation that would call into question the principle of geographical proximity to the base of the cluster and its positive economic impact. In fact, the concept of open innovation is also a growth factor in competitiveness when applied internationally. Indeed, commercially, it facilitates access to international markets for businesses, including enabling them to enter new markets and reach critical mass. Moreover, technologically, companies and research centers are better able to develop new products through their complementary technologies and can get European funding through calls for proposals of the various programs launched by the European Commission, the principle of base is the plurality of recipient countries.

To go further:

- This reflection is extracted from the diagnostic report on potential inter-cluster cooperation in the Mediterranean, conducted as part of the IC-Med project by the Institute of the Mediterranean. This report was written by Mathilde Dioudonnat. Report available electronically on request to m.dioudonnat (at)

- Project IC-Med

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