Clusters and the merits of international cooperation

The concept of cluster, commonly associated with a key engine of growth and competitiveness, became pregnante in the economy and public policy. Since the late 1990s, and even earlier for some areas, training clusters 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 in opening international and 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 local or other innovation clusters. Even beyond the diversity of terms, clusters cover very different realities, some led by a management organization, often an association being with a 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 firms, research centers and institutions working 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 with the formation of clusters has positive externalities for the cluster members: access to specific human skills, infrastructure sharing, knowledge transfer, emulation due to the proximity of companies and research centers ... A paradox apparent can therefore raise questions about the validity of inter-cluster cooperation that would undermine the principle of geographical proximity to the base of the cluster and its economic benefits. In fact, the concept of open innovation is also a growth factor of competitiveness when applied internationally. Indeed, commercially, it facilitates access to the international market for businesses, including allowing them to conquer new markets and achieve critical mass. On the other hand, technologically, companies and research centers are more likely to develop new products through technological complementarity and can obtain 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, made under 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