The case for clustering
7. März 2012
There has been an explosion of clean-tech clusters, promising to help accelerate the next generation of sustainable technologies. Peter Adriaens, Shawn Lesser and Ben Taube explainFour years after public stimulus funds aimed at greening the economy were committed, a new pattern of economic development, green job creation, green procurement and high growth venturing is emerging. […]
Four years after public stimulus funds aimed at greening the economy were committed, a new pattern of economic development, green job creation, green procurement and high growth venturing is emerging. During the past decade, the development of the clean technology sector was driven by private or strategic corporate investments in venture-grade companies, or by investment in projects underpinned by renewable energy targets and carbon markets.
We argue that the low-carbon economy has now gone mainstream. Local, regional and countrywide economic development groups, business organisations, corporate partners, investors and centres of R&D are coalescing into clusters aimed at accelerating the path to market for clean-tech innovations. From Europe to the Asia Pacific, via North America, dozens of clusters have been launched, often in conjunction with major clean-tech investment events.
Whether as incubators of clean-tech growth companies, or business services and partnerships for later stage innovators, these clusters represent and attract a portfolio of companies characteristic of their mandate (whether job promotion, green procurement, economic development or achieving high-value exits for investors) and local business culture (see table). Clean-tech clusters are fast becoming the driving force behind the acceleration of innovations in energy, water, waste, clean fuels, green materials and green buildings.
In 2010, the Global CleanTech Cluster Association (GCCA) was formed to facilitate global connections, develop a platform of exchange for best practices and align emerging start-ups with corporate partners. By joining the GCCA, clean-tech clusters and their member companies increase their exposure for their region and companies worldwide, while also harnessing the knowledge, experience, and other benefits a worldwide association of clusters has to offer.
Until the advent of the GCCA, international collaboration was limited by a scarcity of resources and a lack of strategic alliances between clusters and cluster member companies. The GCCA is addressing this challenge by making communication and collaboration for local clusters and their companies faster, more efficient, affordable and, most importantly, global.
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