Economic clusters are central to the CBI’s ambitions for a more dynamic, investment-driven growth agenda for the UK economy. The UK can only break out of current economic challenges if every region and nation of the UK is given the tools it needs to reach its full potential.
Cluster activity plays a vital role in helping regions maximise their potential, reinventing themselves to attract public and private investment.
The proof is in the pudding. London did it with finance, Aberdeen with oil and gas, and Cambridge with science. Clusters are also enabling South Wales to emerge as a player in the world’s compound semiconductor industry; a market which is projected to grow to over $300bn by 2030.
In the US, cluster activity cemented Massachusetts’ reputation as a global leader in biotech innovation, and, in Germany, it has helped Hamburg to become a world-leading civil aviation hub.
Given the overwhelming evidence that clusters drive growth, especially where there is public and private investment, the CBI is supporting two 'demonstrator projects' in high-potential areas; The Humber (Zero Carbon Humber) and Cyber Tech West in Cheltenham. These long-term interventions will support local efforts to transform and grow.
What is a cluster demonstrator?
By analysing existing, successful clusters, the CBI identified the six essential ingredients that unite them, both in the UK and internationally. The cluster demonstrators in the Humber and Cheltenham – Zero Carbon Humber, and Cyber Tech West – are employing these same ingredients to drive economic growth. Follow the CBI as it propels and tracks the continued transformation of these clusters in the making.
The six ingredients of a successful business cluster
- shared economic prize – cluster members have a shared goal
- anchor institutions – strong organisations based in the area exert a gravitational pull
- storytelling – the cluster benefits from a compelling place-based narrative and a unique selling point (USP) which attracts investors, partners, and talent
- strong leadership – a dynamic, go-to leader represents the cluster as a whole
- great partner collaboration – the ecosystem benefits from deep partnerships between firms, and between the public and private sectors
- supportive policy environment – a proactive and ambitious approach nurtures the competitive advantage of the assets within the cluster
Cluster demonstrators as live learning labs
Zero Carbon Humber and Cyber Tech West will act as live learning labs where the CBI is focusing its efforts and applying the principals outlined in the CBI Clusters Playbook. The CBI will report on successes, lessons learnt, and aspects which are yet to be refined. Outcomes will provide valuable resources for ongoing and future UK cluster development initiatives.
What support does the CBI provide?
The CBI’s ‘thriving regions and nations’ steering committee will work closely with Zero Carbon Humber, and Cyber Tech West – plus other consortiums and broader stakeholders – over multiple years.
The CBI will support the cluster demonstrators by investing resources and expertise to stimulate private sector investment and drive growth. This formula can be replicated in all parts of the country as a major contribution to the government’s Levelling Up agenda.
Regional growth is UK growth
The CBI is collaborating to address productivity and income disparities across the UK’s regions and nations. Levelling up our regions and nations will kickstart economic growth, close productivity gaps and boost living standards.
The demonstrator clusters contribute towards a wider goal to ensure that every nation and region within the UK has distinctive strengths that stand up on the international stage, whilst also providing a range of opportunities for Members to get involved, participate, and learn.