Clusters are defined as “concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries, and associated institutions in particular fields that compete but also co-operate”.
A further analysis of the concept of clusters is reflected in a working paper published by the European Commission Services entitled ‘The concept of clusters and cluster policies and their role for competitiveness and innovation’ (SEC (2008) 2637). This cites a number of empirical studies, which provide that ‘strong’ regional clusters share a higher rate of growth in employment and higher wages to employees. In addition, entrepreneurial firms which are part of a cluster create more jobs, higher tax payments, higher wages to employees, and have the positive effects on the survival of the firms than those which are non-cluster firms. In the local context, Malta has promoted the development of clusters in manufacturing and services through Malta Enterprise.
The move towards “regrouping” maritime operators and capacities is widely underway in Europe. Considering the positive effects of the cluster concept, the aim is to develop several clusters specific to the different maritime sectors. This would ensure that all relevant stakeholders have the opportunity to participate in such a cluster and that all maritime sectors are represented.
Taking note of the discussions and proposals being put forward by the different maritime sectoral clusters, the Malta Marittima Agency would seek to maintain an integrated approach, by supporting and strengthening the clusters as necessary, while maintaining open dialogue not only within but also amongst these maritime sectoral clusters.