Number of greentech clusters per million inhabitants, 2013


Observations for policy

Greentech clusters are relevant for the access to green technology and the dissemination of specific knowledge on renewable energies and resource efficiency for services, products and processes. Proximity to knowledge centres, including universities, firms and NGOs is of vital importance to the success of greentech clusters.

Public-private partnerships are an important instrument in the hands of regions. They can enhance the developments and use of green technology products, processes and services and thereby combine objectives on sustainability, resource efficiency, research and development and competitiveness.

Greentech clusters can increase the future capacity for green growth in a region. Establishing close links between the regional stakeholders in environmental-friendly technologies may improve regional competitiveness in a medium to long-term perspective. However, the objective is not necessarily for each region to develop as many greentech clusters as possible, but to ensure that regional companies involved in greentech and potential users of greentech are well-connected to relevant innovative milieus.

Policy context

Green economy is about enhancing regional competitiveness through more sustainable use of natural resources, preservation of the environmental capital and limiting the exposure of the economy to a range of external shocks such as climate change and extreme weather events. Green clusters facilitate access to innovative processes and novel product developments. They therefore contribute to regional competitiveness, together with other methods and tools implemented to support the Europe 2020 objectives of smart and sustainable growth. Sustainable growth refers to economic growth in the field of green technologies. It is considered to be essential for long-term and green development and for strengthening the competitiveness of European enterprises and stakeholders facing global competition. Two Flagship initiatives combine these objectives of sustainable growth:

Map interpretation

The map focuses on clusters which is only one aspect of greentech in regions. Clusters are identified local concentrations of resources and competences within a given sector of activity and field of expertise. Other types of greentech development can be observed. This may explain why countries which are often perceived as being front-runners regarding the development and use of green technologies, such as Germany and Denmark, have relatively lower scores in this map.

As shown by the map, the total number of greentech clusters in Europe is still relatively low. Only some countries and regions stand out in number of green clusters per million inhabitants. Especially regions in Sweden and Hungary have clusters related to the green economy. Also southern Finland and Norway and regions in Austria have relatively a many clusters on green technology per million inhabitants, as well as Berlin and Bucharest.

Other regions with high numbers of greentech clusters compared to the total population can be found in Portugal, and to a lesser extent in France, Poland and Germany.

Concepts and methods

The number of clusters specialised in greentech per million inhabitants at NUTS 2 level is based on data from the European Cluster Observatory. The cluster observatory database includes a list of more than 170 cluster organisations, consulting organisations, national agencies, professional organisations, regional agencies, science parks and universities that are involved in green research and development. The green technology sectors considered are: Bioenergy, eco-construction, environmental technology, hydrogen and fuel cells, recycling, renewable energy, solar energy, sustainability, water and wind energy. In those cases where one cluster combines green and non-green activities, the clusters have been weighted according to the sectoral specialisation on green technologies.