What is a Cluster?

Cluster Definition

In the Czech Republic, the following definition of cluster was accepted by the Czechinvest agency:
The cluster is a set of regionally linked companies (entrepreneurs) and affiliated institutions and organizations especially tertiary education institutions whose links have the potential to consolidate and increase their competitiveness.

Internal definition of the Plastics Cluster:
The cluster is an association of those who know each other, and even if they are competing, they want to cooperate because they know they can make money. 

Basic Types of Clusters

Horizontal clusters

They consist of a number of producers or suppliers of predominantly the same orientation (e.g. in the Zlín Region there are Plastics, Footwear and Wood clusters), who usually join the cluster in order to achieve:

  • better prices when purchasing material,
  • better sales opportunities,
  • joint representation at trade fairs, abroad, etc.,
  • more effective lobbying (e.g. in the education area),
  • joint international cooperation.

Vertical clusters

They are created by linking most subcontractors and institutions (usually with a larger customer enterprise) into a strategic chain. The motivation is usually to shorten the time of solution of the development project (e.g. Moravian-Silesian Automobile Cluster). Another option is to link companies operating in the same area in various professions – for example, a construction company will ensure the cooperation of smaller companies, which it needs for its orders. Those are for example tinsmiths, roofers, plumbers, heating engineers, painters, tillers, and also service suppliers – designers, structural engineers, power engineers, fire technicians, ecologists, lawyers, etc. The construction company is then able to act as a general contractor, which is reflected in the scope of the orders and in the price of the work.

Lateral (side) clusters

These clusters are characterized by the fact that the manufacturer (e.g. nanotextiles producer) creates a strategic link with potential processors (e.g. of medical products, sanitary goods, special technical textiles, etc.)