The last decades saw a pronounced shift in innovation policy in Germany and many other countries towards increased funding of cooperative R&D. Over the last years, competitions between regional initiatives pushed this trend even further by adding a regional perspective, by increasing the scope of funding, and by fostering interaction between a large number of actors. In 2008 the German ministry for education and research (BMBF) started the Leading-Edge Cluster competition (Spitzencluster-Wettbewerb) in which 15 clusters were selected in three waves (2008, 2010, 2012) and are funded for a five-year period with up to 40 million Euro each. Our paper presents selected results regarding the influence of government funding on cooperation networks within five of the clusters that were successful in the first wave of the Spitzencluster-Wettbewerb. More specifically, we analyse the extent of policy influence on the network of most important cooperation partners, its geographic reach, and the changes of network structure in general. Our empirical analysis is based on original data that was collected in 2011 with cluster actors (firms and public research) who received government funding. Our results indicate that the program was quite effective in initiating new cooperations between cluster actors and in intensifying existing linkages. The vast majority of the linkages which are influenced by the cluster competition are between actors located in the cluster region. With respect to the influence of the cluster competition on network structure, we find an increase in network centralization. Small and medium sized enterprises used the chance to connect with the local stars, but not as much among each other.
Cluster Innovation Policy Evaluation Social Network Analysis