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09 juni 2021

Exploring Business Models In Global Innovation Clusters

Innovation rarely happens alone and many innovators are involved in various clusters and innovation partnerships, but what are really cluster business models, how can we design better ones and how does it help us accelerate innovation?

Victor Haze is International Ecosystem Director at Health Valley in the Netherlands and has recently co-authored an extensive report (220 pages!) on the topic of cluster business models and how it creates value impact. The report is part of a larger set of tools that also deals with ecosystems and corporate transformation issues.

In a recent member conference call, he gave us the inside story on how he has been exploring current practices of cluster business model development and developing a robust strategy toolkit to develop better cluster strategy and cluster business models.

Below are my brief notes from the call. Thanks to Victor for such a monumental contribution to the global community on cluster business models. It’s clear that Victor is kickstarting a wave of cluster business model innovation projects and ideas around the world. As we’ve said for a decade: Sharing is caring!

Why talk cluster business models?

Victor opened the call with a paradigm shift:

Clusters are changing the usual model of innovation.

Using healthcare as an example he talked about how traditionally large corporates would team up with academics and government to collaborate on innovation projects. He called this the triple helix and referred to it as the usual model from the 90’s to 2010’s.

As illustrated on the slide below, innovation clusters introduce more partners, namely the entrepreneurs and importantly also outside investor capital. From the triple helix to the pentagon model.


The Health Valley in the Netherlands creates a space to bring these partners together and other countries and regions have similar clusters. Silicon Valley is surely an inspiration to many, but alone just in Denmark we have innovation clusters like Agro Food Park in Aarhus, Medicon Valley in Copenhagen and finally Odense Robotics, aims to be Denmark’s cluster for robot, automation and drones. You can find other examples from the report further down.

The report calls well-functioning pentagon-model innovation clusters for superclusters.

Succeeding with innovation in a cluster

Understanding how the business model behind the cluster you are participating in, will help you get the most out of it. Victor in particular pointed to 3 factors:

  • How a cluster is financed
  • The cost structure of a cluster
  • How a cluster creates value impact

Victor has also developed the cluster value triangle (as shown in the illustration), which can help to discover the value of your cluster:

  • Ambition/Strategy
  • Structure/Governance
  • Business Model/Financing


There are really many options of cluster business models, but Victor advises to start with the board of your cluster to develop the business model. There are supporting canvases in the report that help you turn the 'wheels' of each of these 3 triangle sides to further develop the value.

Learning from existing innovation clusters

In our call, Victor pointed to a few case studies from his global journey in understanding innovation clusters. The presentation of the various use cases in the report was a global co-creative effort with a number of other great cluster managers.

You can find further details in the report, so here’s just a brief outline to get your journey started in terms of learning from the best:

Learn more about cluster business model innovation

A good place to start is the 21 slides from the call (PDF). You can also download and browse the extensive report: Cluster Business Models (PDF). It’s very well done and while comprehensive, also easy to navigate and quite business user friendly. The report also includes five cluster business model canvasses.

Victor welcomes you to reach out to him directly to continue the conversation and finally, you can also view the entire 26-minute recording below.

Thanks to our innovation community facilitator Maarten Korz for making the introduction to Victor.

Terug naar het overzicht

Janus Boye
Boye & co

Publicatie over partner(s):


Health Valley Partners