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The notion of clustering, is generally accepted to have been introduced by Harvard economist, Michael Porter, in his (1990) book

‘The Competitive Advantage of Nations’, and builds on earlier work in the field of industrial geography, economic geography, and earlier work by Alfred Marshall (1890) and Paul Krugman (1991).
The development of new clusters exists at a juncture between industrial, regional and technology policy. The creation of clusters is being used as tool for regional development, as a means of stimulating new economic growth and as a device for developing new technologies to the stage of commercialisation. However, there is evidence to suggest that a one-size fits all approach to cluster development. According to Porter, competition within a cluster benefits in three ways: •The productivity of companies within the cluster is increased •New businesses in the field are stimulated •Innovation within the field is encouraged and fostered
Paytas, J., Gradek, R., & Andrews, L., (2005) ‘Aligning Universities and Industry Clusters’ The Heinz School Review, Volume 2, Issue I.

Types of Cluster: •Geographical Cluster Organisations Concentrated In a Region. •Sectoral Cluster Organisations Within The Same Commercial Sector. •Horizontal Cluster Knowledge Management / Business Interconnection. •Vertical Cluster Supply Chain Integration

Industrial Policy

Regional Policy

Technology Policy

• Vehicle Manufacturers

The development of hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles, will result in the creation of new supply chains, component suppliers and research and development hubs within the automotive industry. Emergent clusters of industry may spontaneously form around centres of research and development activity, or a cluster may be ‘artificially created’ by investment to stimulate regional growth and development. Original Equipment Manufacturers of vehicles, at the top of the pyramid, are supported by a broad base of different suppliers. These in turn are supported by a plethora of component suppliers and materials suppliers. In the emergent hydrogen and fuel cell automotive industry, suppliers may be characterised by producing exotic materials for fuel cell manufacture, not traditionally found in the automotive industry; or supplying components made by new processes and using new techniques.


Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier n

• Key Suppliers • Systems • Modules • Component Suppliers • Components • Sub-Systems • Materials • Semi-Finished • Standard Parts

The dynamics of the organisations supplying these components for the new industries, the establishments supporting research and development activity to facilitate creation of these new components, and the interaction between the various suppliers, manufacturers and service providers in this new industry has received relatively little attention. There are comparable studies of other high-technology clusters, which will be used to inform the research and build an understanding of what factors influence cluster development. In addition, the study will be informed by an cross-examination of clusters at different stages of maturity; comparing the Californian Fuel Cell cluster with activity in the UK, to ascertain differences in legislative, political, social and economic approaches to cluster development. Differences in legislation and political priority will be examined in both the UK and California, to give an orientation to the socio-political environment in which regional clusters exist. Whilst market and growth oriented firms can drive innovation in a region, providing industry push, there must also be sufficient local demand or sensitivity to external demand to provide innovation pull. The factors affecting this pull will be compared.

Paytas, J., Gradek, R., & Andrews, L., (2005) ‘Aligning Universities and Industry Clusters’ The Heinz School Review, Volume 2, Issue I.

One of the areas of study will examine different attitudes to research and development activity – critically analysing the interface between business and universities.
Cluster Is Dominant: Focus on Building Research and Development University & Cluster Are Aligned: Focus on efficiency and KnowledgeTransfer

About the Researcher:

Gavin D. J. Harper holds a Diploma in Design and Innovation, the Diploma of Vilnius University a BSc. (Hons.) Technology and an MSc. Architecture: Advanced Environmental & Energy Studies. He is author of a number of books, including Fuel Cell Projects for the Evil Genius, available from Mc Graw Hill, New York. He writes for a number of magazines and blogs, and is a regular contributor to Green Building Magazine and the sustainable technology blog

A number of fuel cell ventures have resulted from knowledge transfer partnerships between business and academia and spin-off university ventures. The study will examine differences between how the relationship between the university and company can be characterised. The study will also examine other factors affecting the success and prosperity of clusters; taking lessons from different regional examples, and looking at how they can be applied in the context of fuel cell commercialisation.

Limited Foundation: Focus on “All or Nothing”

University Is Dominant: Focus on Cluster Development


The research will examine the extent to which fuel cell spin-offs are embedded within universities in different local and institutional contexts, and to what extent this affects the autonomy and productivity of the enterprise.
Matkin, G (1999) ‘Spinning off in the U.S.’ Accessed Online:

Research Supported Under Economic & Social Research Council 3+1 Studentship The ESRC Centre for

Supervisory Team: Dr. Peter Wells, Dr. Paul Nieuwenhuis & Prof. Ken Peattie

Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society (B.R.A.S.S) Cardiff University 55 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT, Wales, Telephone +44 (0) 2920 876 562 Fax: +44 (0) 2920 876 061 Email: