September 21, 2010 by Joshua Wright
Two directors of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution have released a new paper on regional innovation clusters. The paper, entitled, “The New ‘Cluster Moment’: How Regional Innovation Clusters Can Foster the Next Economy,” discusses the reemergence of cluster-based economic development.
Mark Muro and Bruce Katz, the authors of the paper, point to new research that shows healthy clusters cultivate innovation, as well as strengthen entrepreneurship, the productivity of firms and industries, and the performance of regional economies. “Clusters hold out practical value for businesses, workers, and policymakers alike as all seek lasting new sources of productive growth at a moment of economic uncertainty,” they write.
In terms of implementing cluster-based economic development strategies, Muro and Katz outline several steps that need to be taken by policymakers and others. One guideline is to “use data and analysis to target interventions, drive design, and track performance.”
From the executive summary:
Cluster strategies or policy interventions—when attempted—should be grounded in rigorous empirical information and analysis so that decisionmakers can make objective assessments about the nature, competitive prospects, and specific needs of different regional industry concentrations. Cluster strategies also need to be held accountable so performance measurement is critical.