A “pôle de compétitivité” (competitiveness cluster ou cluster) brings together large and small firms, research bodies and educational establishments, all working together in a specific region to develop synergies and cooperative efforts around a shared theme.
The goal of clusters is to build on synergies and collaborative innovation projects in order to give partner firms the chance to become first in their markets, both in France and abroad.
Clusters help to make the French economy more competitive. They develop growth and jobs in key markets by:
The core activity of the clusters is to develop collaborative innovation projects, while integrating the potential economic benefits as early as possible. Clusters meet two priorities:
France is committed to creating a conducive environment for both firms and innovation. It helps companies to derive the economic benefits of innovation.
For instance, at national and regional level, France and its regions back the development of clusters:
The clusters cover most sectors of activity, from emerging high-tech fields (nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, ecotechnologies, and so on) to more mature sectors (automotive, aerospace, etc.).
In 2009, the Secured Communication Systems (SCS) cluster launched the Bus’Dev programme to help SMEs and micro-enterprises to raise capital from private investors. The programme aims to assist companies with the presentation of their business plans to investors. The cluster preselects member firms. It offers to present their project to a committee made up of investors, industry representatives and experts. If the project is found to be mature enough, the company receives six days of mentoring with a consultant and financial and market experts. After this training, the companies selected are given the "Innovative Cluster Firm" label. The cluster puts them into contact with targeted potential investors. Of the 74 firms that applied for the Bus'Dev programme, 27 ultimately went through the mentoring phase and were labelled "Innovative Cluster Firms". Out of these 27, six successfully raised capital from private investors amounting to €1.5 million.
The Fibres cluster designed the CIM-Eco® initiative intended to help companies develop their eco-design expertise. These firms drew on a network of professional organisations, technical and research centres and eco-design experts. In the space of three years, as a result of this initiative, 33 companies from the fibre sector were able to acquire and develop their eco-design engineering and marketing expertise. Nearly half of these firms have already released an eco-designed product, with a total of 17 products, including 14 new ones and three "reworked" on an eco-design basis. Seven R&D projects are under way. CIM-Eco® has also enabled companies to renew their strategy and proactively position themselves on the markets in order to anticipate future regulatory obligations, enhance their image and set themselves apart from the competition.
In 2007, the Vitagora cluster identified real potential for partnerships for its members in Asia. This potential needed to be maintained, however, by a local representative. This led to the idea of recruiting an employee under the International Business Volunteer programme (VIE). A person was hired to represent the cluster and its members in Asia and get them known. This was the start of a network able to make trading easier. Very quickly, three partnership agreements were signed, 9 missions were organised in Asia and, vice versa, 13 in France. The cluster's firms have had a contract signing rate of close to 33%.
Most of the Minalogic cluster's member SMEs had a poor grasp of the notion of intellectual property and particularly the negotiation of consortium agreements. The cluster therefore launched the "Taste for Innovation" initiative in partnership with the Axelera and Tenerrdis clusters. This initiative gave SMEs and laboratories a better understanding of the legal aspect of collaborative projects and consortium agreements. Between 2009 and 2013, 427 firms and laboratories benefited from this initiative. The cluster noted greater consideration of intellectual property issues, with an increase in the number of patents and faster convergence towards consortium agreements for the collaborative projects that were helped. The consortium agreements also became more legible, reducing in size from 100 to 20 pages for the same legal result.
Les pôles de compétitivité
DATAR et Ministère de l'Économie, des Finances et de l'Industrie