Clusters of innovation

Innovation clusters and ecosystems

The pace of technological innovation is faster than ever and is becoming more complex, multifaceted and multidisciplinary. Which is why companies are increasingly choosing to collaborate with similar or complementary companies. Joint open innovation projects are becoming much more common. Businesses are also opting to collaborate with government bodies and knowledge institutions.

Competitive advantage

Innovation is vital for individual companies but also for businesses working in collaboration: clusters. Innovation is not only essential to meet societal needs. Innovation also helps businesses keep their competitive advantage, because participation in consortia or alliances can put them in a strategic position. When companies work in clusters they can easily form multidisciplinary teams to respond quickly to new situations and keep pace with the uncertainties in their environment. Clusters also offer added value at regional levels: regional partnerships help to promote regional economic development. Good examples in the Netherlands are the Brainport Industries Campus (BIC) near Eindhoven or the InnovationCluster Drachten (ICD).


When different sorts of companies, knowledge institutions and government bodies work together in partnerships it’s known as an ecosystem. Examples are the High Tech campus in Eindhoven, InnovationCluster Drachten and Food Valley in Wageningen.

Working in collaboration is the key to success in ecosystems. The art of initiating a cluster and helping it develop into an ecosystem is one of Berenschot’s competences.

Berenschot supports

Berenschot has years of experience in setting up, structuring and implementing clusters. We support individual companies and government bodies in their search for the right partners. We also support groups of companies and sectors when it comes to business and technology road mapping, structuring collaborative arrangements, open innovation campuses, business plans and project management. On request we also offer support for funding applications.

Berenschot has broad experience in connecting different actors to help them build their knowledge and strengthen their market position to accelerate innovations. To achieve this we always take the following six-stage approach:

  • Continuous monitoring of market trends, stakeholders and objectives.
  • Establishing the technology roadmap and updating it regularly.
  • Ongoing programme development based on this roadmap.
  • Initiating funding to implement projects and programmes
  • Managing and monitoring projects based on proven methodology
  • Tailored support when the project results launch to market

Cluster innovation circle

Cluster innovation circle

We concentrate on:

Set-up: how to design the collaboration plan? What’s the focus that connects us? Are we going for a regional or sectoral approach? Should we start with several companies (giving us mass) or focus on a “coalition of the willing”? Who’s going to do what and how will we fund this project or programme? Are any grants or subsidies available?

Structure: How can we organise collaboration within the cluster or ecosystem? Who is going to be the driving force or take the lead? Which instruments will be effective and efficient for our purposes? Do we need to form a legal entity? If so what’s the best option?

Implementation: looking after Project Start Ups in the early implementation phase. Project managing several projects or complex projects. Using programme management to keep a helicopter view.  Recording and reporting  time spent for the funding bodies. Acquisition of new participants etc.

Do you want to start a cluster?

Contact one of our consultants for more information on starting, structuring or implementing a cluster in your organisation or sector.

Client cases

Supported an alliance of 18 high-tech companies in a joint approach to co-create new R&D plans for the coming two years, including a contribution from relevant knowledge institutions. This resulted in eight collective R&D projects, each concrete enough to qualify for inclusion in a major grant application.

Assisted a provincial authority in drawing up an action plan for the region’s manufacturing industry with three separate lines for parts suppliers, systems suppliers and OEM suppliers, plus a follow-up project with recommendations for regional governance.

Erik Teunissen

Erik Teunissen

Senior managing consultant

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