Key National Clusters are characterized by their significance to Polish economy and international competitiveness.
The cluster policy in Poland is being managed by Ministry of Economic Development, with involvement of regional level. In the period 2007-2013 support was aimed at capacity building (human capital, organisational issues). This resulted in increase of the number of clusters in Poland. Nowadays, the cluster policy aims at strengthening innovativeness and competitiveness of Polish economy thanks to cooperation, knowledge transfer and smart specialisation. Clusters are seen as important drivers of this policy. The idea of Key National Cluster label is to direct support to those clusters that 1)have substantial impact on Polish economy (in terms of employment and added value creation), 2)innovation is high on their agenda and are linked with national smart specialisations and 3)are internationally recognisable. Activities on the national level include: Step 1. Exploring the potential of regional clusters to become Key National Clusters (KNC): applications of clusters are evaluated according to range of criteria. Step 2. Dissemination&promotion of cluster management standards (series of workshops for cluster coordinators) Step 3. Requirements&technical specification for a cluster monitoring platform. Step 4. Support for internationalization of KNC. Only KNCs are eligible to apply for funding of their internationalisation activities under EU Smart Growth Operational Programme.

Resources needed

Human resources: employees of Ministry of Entrepreneurship (2 persons) and Polish Agency for Enterprise Development(4 persons). Support for internationalisation is financed under OP Smart Growth (ERDF) in the amount of PLN 100 mln (approx. EUR 23 mln) – Measure 2.3.3. Internationalization of KNC

Evidence of success

During open calls (2015-2016) 16 clusters obtained status of KNC (40 submitted applications).
 Activity of KNCs covers whole territory of Poland and the most areas of national smart specializations;
 Meetings of KNCs organized by the Ministry of Entrepreneurship;
 Training for cluster’s managers;
 13 KNC granted under OP Smart Growth, Measure 2.3.3. Internationalization of KNC(24 projects);
 Out of 7 clusters, that got the KNC status in 2015, 6 submitted applications for its renewal

Difficulties encountered

Clusters are very dynamic and are flexibly adapting to changing environment that is why the system needs to be continuously revised and adjusted.

Potential for learning or transfer

The focus on cluster policy both at national and regional level created conditions for more intensive and effective cluster development. The KNC system helps to channel limited public funds to the most promising and prospective undertakings, and the label can be achieved in a competitive, transparent procedure. It is important to highlight, that this label has to be renewed every two years. That means, that cluster organisations are enhanced to be active and keep the standards, otherwise they lose the label and all profits linked to it. Other profits:
1.Stronger cluster organisatons, competitive internationally, aware of their resources and potentials/strenghts and weaknesses
2. The KNC selection system is in fact a specialisation strategy, with an aim to strengthen clusters with important innovative potential
3. Industries in the regions which are members of KNCs have been strengthened .

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Main institution
Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP)
Mazowieckie, Poland (Polska)
Start Date
January 2013
End Date


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