51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
In the US and Europe many clusters initiatives have recently been launched. National and regional governments have been defining and implementing clusters policies and programmes with the aim to identifying, launching and finally consolidating international competitive clusters in their respective territories. In this context, The Ministry of Industry Commerce and Tourism of the Spanish Government have been implementing a cluster policy since 2007 known as the AEIs Programme. This Programme has been implemented in two stages. The first one has been the financing of the elaboration of Strategic Plans for cluster proposals selected by the Ministry in a competitive process. The second has been the financing of the constituting and launching of cluster associations and collaborative projects among members at national and European level. On completion of the first three years of the project, an evaluation has been carried out. Of the 142 proposals received by the Ministry, 101 clusters have been selected and constituted as AEIs (clusters associations supported by specific financial frameworks). These AEIs represent 2,268 firms and 493 institutions (universities, R&D centres, public bodies etc.). These organizations account for a total of 450,734 workers, making up 2.4% of the total Spanish employment figure. This total rises to 6.5% if the indirect effects on the entire value chain are considered. The Ministry has financed these AEIs to the tune of € 9 million, a small amount considering the huge knock-on effect of these clusters achieved over the last three years. This knock-on effect has attracted finance from other sources of more than €243 million; €196 million dedicated to collaborative R&D+i projects. The evaluation has also gathered data from cluster initiative managers and regional cluster policy managers about the about initiatives at regional level. This evaluation has documented the necessities of these clusters and the opportunities arising from the AEIs Programme. As a result of this assessment, the evaluation also proposes new lines to be developed in the following stages of the Programme.