Study – Competitiveness clusters: what results since 2005?

The French competitiveness cluster policy has been the subject of several impact studies that have focused on its ability to encourage companies to invest more in R&D. However, this policy also aims to develop partnership relations between public and private players to strengthen synergies that are conducive to the creation of wealth and jobs. Evaluations carried out to date have barely addressed this second, yet central, objective.

In this study, France Stratégie and ANCT provide a broader perspective based on a spatial analysis of the intra- and inter-departmental spillover effects induced by the poles. This note also seeks to measure the clusters’ capacity to develop inter-company networks and to assess their effects on companies’ economic performance and R&D spending. The data available at the date of completion of this work ended in 2015.

This new study shows that 1€ of public subsidy received within the framework of this policy would generate 2.5€ of R&D expenses.

The results obtained in other studies are confirmed with regard to the impact of clusters on companies’ R&D spending: one euro of public subsidy received under this policy would have generated an average of 2.5 additional euros in R&D spending by beneficiary SMEs. On the other hand, as in previous work, the analysis confirms the absence of measurable positive effects on R&D spending by medium-sized and large firms.

The analysis also seeks to measure the contribution of clusters to the structuring of innovation networks in which large firms could play a decisive role. The results obtained are contrasted. On the positive side, relations appear to be increasingly diversified within clusters and their overall cohesion is progressing over time. On the negative side, the number of collaborations is declining. It cannot be ruled out that this is the result of an increase in inter-cluster collaborations or in the number of SMEs belonging to the clusters. Nor can it be excluded that this is accompanied by an improvement in the quality of these collaborations, but the analysis does not allow us to conclude on this point.

From the point of view of spatial effects, a greater number of firms belonging to a cluster results in a better dynamic of R&D spending in the territory where the cluster is located.

On the other hand, no positive synergy is robustly demonstrated with neighboring territories.

All in all, the analysis confirms that public policy in favour of competitiveness clusters has had positive effects on companies, networks and territories, but these effects remain difficult to measure precisely, given the methodological fragilities inherent in the object of the study.


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Author : Haithem Ben Hassine (Economics)


Source : via AFPC