Clustering is a method of organising the production system set up at the initiative of companies (with the possible participation of research centres and training centres).
A cluster is characterised by:
- an inter-company cooperation framework centred around related activities;
- the voluntary development of complementary relations (whether commercial or non commercial);
- the promotion of a shared regional and international vision of development.
The Contract for the Future of Wallonia
As from the year 2000, the « Contrat d’Avenir pour la Wallonie » rolled out various measures in favour of companies doing business in Wallonia.
One of the priority measures of this contract was the granting of support to the emergence of networks of companies, which proved to be the forerunners of the clusters.
The Walloon authorities were keen to show their determination to foster cooperation and partnerships between Walloon companies, from SME to large enterprises.
Advantages of the clusters
- Productivity gains obtained thanks to a better synergy between players, lower prices, more adapted and shared production factors.
- Facilitation of the market mechanisms thanks to the community of interests and trust prevalent within the clusters. Complementarity between companies allows economies of scale, when it comes to sales for example. More efficient production factors (labour, equipment, etc..) are accessible thanks to the critical mass of the companies that make up the networks.
- Greater innovation by the companies thanks to the interaction between clients and suppliers, which encourages the development of “market driven” innovations. Proximity allows better access to the sources of knowledge (within companies, research centres, etc.).
Differences between “cluster” and “competitiveness cluster”
The competitiveness clusters are publicly funded to carry out investment, R&D or training projects in line with the strategy of competitive positioning that they themselves have defined.
The clusters, for their part, are supported by the Walloon Region to coordinate a network of companies and foster innovative partnerships, whether industrial, commercial or technological.
Diversity of the clusters
The 6 clusters (also known as “(trans)sectoral networks”) encourage interactions between companies within Wallonia’s productive fabric.
The clusters inject an added value into all areas where the sharing of resources and knowledge can boost business competitiveness and innovation (small, medium and large enterprises).
The main clusters recognised by the regional public authorities are the following:
- CAP 2020: the construction cluster
- ECO-CONSTRUCTION: the sustainable homes cluster
- PLASTIWIN: the plastics cluster
- The INFOPOLE Cluster TIC: the communication technologies cluster
- TWEED: the Walloon energy, environmental and sustainable development technologies cluster
- TWIST: the Walloon digital image, sound and text technologies cluster
Along with the Competitiveness Clusters, the Walloon clusters cover almost all economic sectors.
A cluster for you?
Any ambitious Belgian or foreign company wishing to set up in business in the Walloon Region and to develop their market at a wider international level, can take an active part in the operation of these clusters.
For more on-line information about Wallonia’s clustering policy, visit http://clusters.wallonie.be.