By Shawn Lesser
A Cluster is a great mechanism to support cleantech businesses and stimulate business growth. For example ECO World Styria in Graz, Austria, a cluster of more than 150 cleantech companies, has created 5,000 new jobs in the last four years. The companies have generated a turnover of 2.8 billion Euros – approximately 8 percent of the region’s GDP. ECO World Styria focuses on innovative cleantech research projects, and help local companies access international markets.
Additionally, Cleantech Clusters accelerate growth. IT means that a primary purpose of a cleantech cluster is to act as an economic engine to aid the swift adoption of their technologies. Clusters spark the new innovative partnerships of tomorrow by connecting companies globally – Cleantech clusters have the ability to connect regional cleantech companies with the global marketplace. Moreover, it has signed over $160 million of commercial contracts in two years. By connecting key cleantech players across sectors, clusters can initiate and facilitate new innovations through partnerships.
Important point that clusters share ideas. It is objective that clusters enable efficiency and business excellence by providing transparency and a platform for members to exchange best practices. This is being done in organizations such as The Global Cleantech Cluster Association, the Skipso internet platform and the International Cleantech Network (ICN). The cluster model believes in collaboration and open innovation; a direct contrast to the secrecy that you might find in the Silicon Valley culture.
Another remarkable advantage is that clusters create investment opportunities for VC’s globally.
Cleantech clusters are a great resource for prospecting promising technologies. A good example of this phenomenon is the Global Cleantech Cluster Association’s later stage best of class contest which will be launched in Lahti Finland and San Diego in November 2010. At this event, hidden gems of cleantech from around the world will be revealed to the investment community.
Last but not least is that the clusters can represent cleantech in politics. Cleantech clusters, when acting together, carry more weight when trying to set the political agenda vs. independent action. For example one of Swisscleantech’s principal foci is to bundle the interests of its members and to represent them in politics nationally and internationally. Swisscleantech recently launched the Cleantech Strategy Switzerland effort, sparking a political discussion on 30 concrete measures in 10 cleantech-focus topics.
Clusters can support all types of cleantech stakeholders. For example The CleanTech Center in Syracuse, New York offers support to entrepreneurs and early stage companies through incubation, acceleration and retention. Collaborators include angel and venture investors, financial institutions and other lenders, colleges and universities, service providers, utilities, industry associations and government agencies. Together, they all provide technical and financial assistance to foster clean technology business development.
In summary, add up all of the benefits outlined above and it’s easy to see why the Cleantech clusters have been, and will continue to be, a driving force in accelerating cleantech globally!