Going for Gold: What Does It Take to Make an Impact?

Clusters play a crucial role in fostering economic development and creating value for companies in various ways. These concentrated geographic areas, characterized by a dense network of interconnected firms, suppliers, and related institutions, offer a multitude of benefits that contribute to the growth and competitiveness of the economy. BIGINN Partnership spent two days in Denmark trying to figure out what it takes for clusters to add value to their members and the region.

How do clusters help industries?

Firstly, clusters facilitate innovation and knowledge creation among companies. By co-locating in a cluster, members can exchange ideas, best practices, and technological advancements, leading to innovation and productivity gains. This idea was one of the main drivers shaping the Danish strategic innovation clusters initiatives, according Ulla Porsbøl Jacobsen, Ministry of Commerce. As shown by the example of Denmark, by strategically allocating resources and investments to these ecosystems, governments can nurture high-end innovation, entrepreneurship, and industry specialization, which, in turn, attract talent, capital, and businesses.

Secondly, clusters can play a significant role in facilitating matchmaking both nationally and internationally by providing platforms and opportunities for companies to connect and establish business relationships. “Being an SME company, you need to have partners – and cluster systems are built to address this need within their area and create transparency in complicated markets,” explained Dustin Paul Wilden, Chief Commercial Officer at „Trier Industries A/S” and Member Board Of Directors at “CenSec” – the Danish business cluster for stakeholders within the defence, space and security industry. Clusters usually become active one-stop-shop contact points for reaching out to other industries and markets, helping to solve joint problems and guiding if needed.


Furthermore, clusters offer economies of scale and scope. By concentrating related industries and suppliers in close proximity, clusters create synergies and cost efficiencies. As shown by the example of Censec, this allows mobilizing the companies in particular topics and providing the full solution (and a value chain) to the industry. Additionally, the proximity to suppliers and customers allows for streamlined supply chains, faster delivery times, and cost savings through bulk purchasing or joint procurement. These economies of scale and scope enhance the competitiveness of companies within the cluster, attracting investment and stimulating economic growth.

Is certification worth it?

ECEI (European Cluster Excellence Initiative) certification is important for clusters aspiring to achieve excellence and maximize their impact on the economy. The ECEI Gold label is a prestigious recognition that demonstrates a cluster’s commitment to quality, efficiency, and continuous improvement. It signifies that the cluster operates at a high level of professionalism, adheres to best practices, and actively contributes to the growth and development of its members and the surrounding ecosystem.

Firstly, certification enhances the cluster’s reputation and visibility, both domestically and internationally. The certification serves as a mark of excellence, instilling confidence in potential investors, partners, and stakeholders. It can attract funding opportunities, support from government institutions, and collaboration with other top-performing clusters. Moreover, the certification process itself encourages clusters to assess their strengths, identify areas for improvement, and implement measures to enhance their performance and competitiveness.

Secondly, the ECEI label certification promotes networking and knowledge exchange among clusters. It provides access to a community of high-performing clusters, enabling the sharing of experiences, best practices, and lessons learned. This exchange of knowledge and collaboration can lead to new partnerships, joint initiatives, and innovation opportunities, further boosting the economic impact of clusters.

Lastly, the ECEI certification fosters a culture of continuous improvement and ensures the sustainability of cluster initiatives. The rigorous assessment process and adherence to quality standards help clusters maintain their competitiveness and adapt to evolving market conditions. It encourages clusters to stay abreast of industry trends, invest in research and development, and embrace emerging technologies. By striving for and maintaining the ECEI Gold label, clusters can effectively contribute to economic development, attract investment, and create value for companies operating within the cluster ecosystem.

This was article is funded by the European Union’s COSME Programme.

The content of this publication represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the European Commission and/or the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.