Different Models and Paths for Cluster Internationalisation

Key learnings of the latest BSR Stars Innovation Express workshop held in Oslo in collaboration with Innovation Norway in June!

date 07.07.2017

When clusters internationalise the challenges experienced by the clusters are typically the same, no matter the origin of the cluster, the branch or the geography. One key challenge is to keep focus on cluster internationalisation and how a strategy for internationalisation can support this.

This key learning was one of the central outcomes of the latest BSR Stars Innovation Express workshop held in Oslo 8/9 June, in collaboration with Innovation Norway. At the workshop 20 clusters from eight countries gathered to share their experiences on sustainable models and how to build longer-term partnerships for cluster internationalisation.

The group of experienced clusters working with internationalisation

Derive the international cluster strategy from the members

The German gold-label cluster Kunststoffinstitut Lüdenscheid presented their strategic work on cluster internationalisation. A key learning from Kunststoffinstitut Lüdenscheid’s experiences is to find interesting topics among the members and derive the international strategy from the members’ needs. After defining the strategy, the next steps are:


  • Identify the most potential partners, develop joint agendas and implement the plans
  • Measure the success and have key performance indicators
  • Keep the members informed about the progress – also those who are not involved in the projects/initiatives
  • If successful. Repeat: Set new common goals and team up to tackle bigger challenges

Internationalisation = a need for focus!

Oslo Cancer Cluster, a part of the Norwegian Centre of Expertise programme dedicated to leading clusters, presented their strategic work on globalisation. Oslo Cancer Cluster has globalisation integrated in their overall strategy of the cluster – a strategy that has three pillars: 1) Excellent in Innovation 2) Global Value Chains 3) To Attract Talent.


By asking their members and involving the board in the strategy process Oslo Cancer Cluster have focused their internationalisation. They are not in all markets – but they are in the right markets in Europe and the US with strongholds in their sector. For Oslo Cancer Cluster it is very important that the strategy is focused and realistic. This need on focusing the internationalisation strategy became a mantra of the day and was also recognised among the participating ICT-clusters, creative clusters and industry clusters.

Models on internationalisation of SMEs through clusters

Cluster Excellence Denmark presented the lessons learned from BSR Stars Innovation Express projects on internationalisation of SMEs through clusters and derived some models for cluster internationalisation based on the learnings from Innovation Express:


  • Clusters internationalisation along the value chain
  • Cross-sectorial cluster innovation
  • SME globalisation via clusters
  • System export via complex product solutions
  • Transnational cluster platforms
  • Clusters supporting SMEs’ international research


The clusters in the workshop discussed the different models and found that they follow different models at the same time.

The workshop gave lots of opportunities for dialogue and knowledge sharing

Cracking the code on Solution Based Export

The Danish Gold-label cluster CLEAN presented their method on solution based export called “Clean Solutions”. Their model aims to increase the export of green solutions by helping companies enter into partnerships to deliver expertise in the form of innovative total package solutions for foreign buyers. As part of the “Clean Solutions” the cluster helps to find the international buyers and supplies companies with the tools and know-how to deliver complex projects.


When working with solution based export driven by clusters three phases are important:

  • PROJECT identification is about finding the project candidates by making a pre-screening and qualifying incoming leads to make project scoping – in dialogue with the client.
  • PARTNERSHIP creation, is about setting the best consortium of Danish and international partners to provide a solution for the identified project.
  • FINANCING is about finding funding for the identified project and solutions. Part of this funding is public; however, it is also important that the participating companies provides funding themselves – to secure commitment.


CLEAN have developed a toolbox with business plans, templates for contracts and other important documents to commit both the investor and the suppliers in the consortium. The documents are available here:

The workshop was part of BSR Stars Innovation Express cluster capacity building activities. BSR Innovation Express also encompasses a funding scheme providing funding for the internationalisation of SMEs through clusters and an annual Cluster Matchmaking Conference. The 5th Cluster Matchmaking Conference takes places on September 21-22 in Stuttgart, Germany. Read more about it here:

Find the workshop presentations here:

Clean Solutions

Cluster internationalisation_Kaspar Nielsen_CED