|French approach to cluster based innovation policy seems to pay off|
In 2004, the French government announced shift towards a “functional approach” in their national innovation policy. This was anchored in an initiative (Pôles de Compétitivité initiative) to develop a number of Cluster Initiatives around the country.
As a part of this process, a consortium of French governmental organizations committed to fund the development of 66 clusters with 1.5 billion Euros over 3 years.
The clusters selected to receive funding was selected based on 105 proposal submitted by regional economic and industrial development organizations.
The selection was based on the following criteria:
Since the initial launch in ’04/’05, an additional 5 clusters have been launched.
Following the Cluster Initiative model, each cluster has a governance model, membership structure, central management and marketing activities.
Since the inception, more than 2,000 R&D projects have been launched within the clusters, and more than 5 billion euros have been committed (half funded by the French government).
In all, there are 10,000 researchers working on these projects with 5,000 businesses, including SMEs. The French government has committed to maintain the funding until 2011, with 1.5 billion euros over three years.
Local and regional authorities are funding projects launched by their respective clusters.
As of today, 500 foreign businesses are involved in the clusters and their projects.
Backed by a significant public funding, it seems that the French government continue to believe in the Cluster Initiatives as a central pillar in the country’s innovation and economic development policy.