ECO Cluster is Best of the Best across Europe 

Press release

Gold for Austria’s cluster work
With 98% of the achievable score, the cluster management of the Styrian environmental engineering cluster ECO WORLD STYRIA demonstrates excellence at the highest level and is awarded the Gold Label of the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI). Simultaneously, therewith ECO is also clearly taking the No. 1 position among the 15 Gold Labels awarded worldwide so far.

Above all in Europe, clusters and networks have become true economic drivers. In Styria, this type of cooperation between business, research and administration already has a long tradition. The economic dynamism of the companies in the Styrian energy and environmental engineering cluster ECO WORLD STYRIA has already won the position as the world’s best clean-tech cluster in 2010 and was awarded the RegioStars Award in spring this year.

Cluster meets Excellence
In the first half-year 2012, the ECO cluster management underwent an in-depth certification by the European Cluster Excellence Initiative, and it obtained the highest achievable award, the prestigious Gold Label. It is the objective of the certification introduced by the European Commission to increase the degree of professionalism of the clusters, to compare oneself with other clusters, to learn from one another, and to identify further development potentials. The auditing for extraordinary performances for the stimulation of cooperations and for an increase in the competitiveness of the companies linked in a cluster was undertaken by external auditors, under the management of VDI (Association of German Engineers). The cluster work was evaluated on the basis of 34 indicators, of which ECO achieved the highest score 33 times. Decisive for the high evaluation was the strategic and practical orientation of the cluster. Therewith, ECO is also on top of the 15 Gold Label clusters existing worldwide so far. For companies and organisations, the label is an important orientation to evaluate the quality of a cluster.

Enhancing strengths in the cluster
The cluster work in the area of energy and environmental engineering is one of three columns of the Styrian Economic Strategy 2020 – Growth by Innovation. “We develop the business location Styria along areas of strength-fields, and the cluster strategy is one of the most important factors for Styrian companies to be successful on international markets. The environmental engineering cluster ECO WORLD STYRIA is characterised by the professional management of the cluster, the networking opportunities offered and the performances for this sector. I am happy for the team of ECO for receiving the award and congratulate them warmly”, says the Styrian Minister of Economy Dr. Christian Buchmann.

Providing companies with benefits
For the 180 members of the cluster, the quality of the cluster not least depends on the individually achieved benefit. “This works out all the better, the more intensive the exchange between the members and the cluster team is undertaken”, says Bernhard Puttinger, Managing Director of ECO WORLD STYRIA. “It is important to us to interlink companies, research institutions and public administration even better, to enhance their competitiveness and to accelerate industrial R&D with the services offered”, Puttinger continues. Four examples illustrate the different benefit levels for companies and research institutions as well as the work in the cluster team.

“At the initiative and with the support of ECO, we were able to gain a foothold in China and to handle two projects amounting to millions”, says Dr. Thomas Dielacher of Stenum. For Dr. Karl Grabner, Member of the Executive Board of Binder+Co AG, it was a contact mediated by ECO, which enabled fast financing of a project worth millions. Dr. Wolfgang Staber, pro Aqua, has two new international customers, which he found via ECO in Denmark. And Professor Roland Pomberger, University of Leoben, sees in ECO the “motor and driver in the Styrian environmental engineering sector”, with which he also can develop new research projects.

Dynamic economic development
Over the years since the establishment of the cluster, ECO WORLD STYRIA has impressively demonstrated, how with targeted stimulation of the region, economic growth is possible. Over the past 5 years, the 180 cluster companies and research institutions were able to double the environmental engineering turnover and to increase the number of jobs by an annual 10%. Of the 6.9 billion Euros of overall turnover of the companies, 87% are generated in exports. With 4.7%, the research expenses of the sector point the way towards further innovations “made in Styria”. The strategy pursued by the ECO WORLD STYRIA cluster is aiming at doubling the number of technology leaders in Styria until 2015 and positioning the location internationally as the Green Tech Valley.

Free download of the Gold Label under:
Enquiries: Dr. Sabine Marx, ECO WORLD STYRIA, +43 316 40 77 44-16,