Cluster practices in Bulgaria

Cluster approach to support innovation development and competitiveness of businesses and regions.

Economists and geographers explore the spatial concentration of firms over a century.The question arises, why it is now that clusters become actual and cluster approach is increasingly used in the economic policies of governments.

The answer is found in the changing conditions of the environment and the new challenges facing the modern business:

  • need for geographical concentration in terms of offering complex financial, advisory, legal and other services for SMEs;
  • rapidly changing demands of the market combined with willingness to disregard consumer loyalty, requiring more flexible and specialized response to consumer expectations;
  • innovative environment within which there is a constant increase pressure on firms to provide new and improved products and services;
  • Clusters are carriers of natural advantages related to provided synergies resulting from common access to resources or markets;
  • cluster-based approach for indirect impact on business is the result of the fact that systematic measures aimed at development of companies concentrated in certain spatial boundaries, always carry a greater effect than measures aimed at companies considered as separate objects of state regulation.

In recent years policy on the research and promotion of cluster approach to boost growth, regional and national competitiveness is a matter of priority at the European level (see 1). Key forum for discussion of these issues is The Competitiveness Institute - TCI (see 2), a nonprofit organization founded in 1998 in Barcelona for pooling and exchange of information and best practices in the area of ​​cluster policy and cluster development.The main objectives of the organization include:

  • promoting competitiveness, based on clusters;
  • elaboration of strategies for the development of clusters;
  • development of set of mechanisms for influence in the process of creation and operation of unique and distinctive advantages of clusters;
  • Increase the professionalism of the specialists involved in the development and implementation of cluster-oriented policies.

Clusters are an important factor in increasing the competitiveness of European economies.National and regional economic policies of the old continent are increasingly oriented to take advantage of the cluster approach. However, there are still
challenges to overcome which require more active approach:

  • There is still a serious shortage of primary data for the establishment and functioning of clusters in European countries, the impact of influential factors of their environment and their contribution to improving the competitiveness and efficiency of the innovation potential at national and European level.This makes it impossible to conduct comparative analysis and formation of leading cluster practices that will be promoted and further spread.
  • There is a need the applied cluster policies in different European countries and regions to be mutually consistent and more coherent.Indeed, the mechanisms of action should take into account the characteristics of each cluster and the environment in which it develops, but it is important to apply a uniform policy aimed at achieving the common objectives set at EU level.
  • Moreover, clusters should be considered as part of the overall agenda for increasing the competitiveness of the European economy. This calls for better consistency between ongoing cluster and regional policies as focusing only on one or the other will lead to achieving unsatisfactory results.
  • Last but not least cluster policies should be viewed as an opportunity to redefine the role and interaction between the public and private sectors within the economic policy.In an increasingly complex, dynamic and highly aggressive environment the initiatives for growth and higher productivity of the governments should support and harmonize the efforts of businesses to access the global markets.

Cluster theory is evolving.Changes were observed in terms of the key features - initially the focus was on enterprises as the main building block of each cluster.Subsequent studies have shown that to be considered as a "cluster” the focus is on the interaction between the different actors.In this sense, institutional coordination and development of networks should also become a major subject of support.;