The idea of designation of Key National Clusters (KNC) is related to the implementation of the strategies Europa 2020 and the concept regarding smart specializations postulated by the European Commission, which assumes the concentration of efforts and resources on a determined small number of priorities or economic specializations. Clusters, as concentrations of economic entities with homogenous or/and complementary sector specialization, play a very important role in this context. Strong clusters in the regions should constitute the basis for the designation of economic specializations which are, by nature, based on enterprises, R&B sector, higher education institutions, or business environment institutions operating in the region.

The fundament for the selection of Key National Clusters is, therefore, the strategy of economic specialization and channeling national and regional resources towards strong, effectively operating entities which are characterized by potential for development (prioritization). Special role in this process have the entities with considerable innovative potential, which have real skills and resources and which may reach perfection and competitiveness on a global scale. Formal or informal concentrations of such entities, clusters, not least because of the scale (critical mass determined by the number and structure of entities) become significant actors in the execution of such policy.

Recommendations developed by the Cluster Policy Working Group indicate that the main objective of cluster policy should be the reinforcement of innovativeness and competitiveness of the Polish economy based on the intensification of collaboration, interaction, and flow of knowledge within the clusters, and support for the development or strategic economic specializations (key clusters). Defined directions and aspect of the cluster policy focus on two paths of impact on the implementation of this objective – broad and narrow. Broadly defined, we are talking about a cluster-based development policy including a wide range of policies and instruments which support the development of particular clusters in a coordinated manner. In a narrow perspective, cluster policy consists in the integration of the available public support around the selected key clusters of competitive potential for national economy (central support) and particular regions (regional support), which fall within the scope of smart national and regional specializations.

Key National Cluster is a cluster of crucial importance for the national economy, and high international competitiveness. National clusters are identified on the national level based on, among others, the following criteria: critical mass, potential for development and innovation, existing and planned collaboration, and the coordinator’s experience and potential.

The following clusters have strategic significance for the national economy:
  • Those which stand out (against other clusters in Poland) due to significant potential, i.e. uniting effectively operating economic entities which are competitive on the market, high quality scientific entities, and effective business environment institutions;
  • Those which stand out due to effects of activities, i.e. generating added value for both cluster stakeholders and national economy. Key clusters contribute to the economic development of the country through improving product quality, innovativeness level, educational quality, quality of life, etc.;
  • Those which are recognizable and able to compete on the international arena;
  • Those related to the directions of the country’s development, particularly, smart specializations.
Special characteristics of a key national clusters regarding scope should be the following:
  • Cluster’s impact on at least national scale. In this context, a national cluster is a cluster that contributes to the economic development of a country.
  • Effects of using the country’s endogenic potential.
Contest for the status of a Key National Cluster

In 2014, while executing the concepts defined by the Cluster Policy Working Group, Polish Agency for Enterprise Development, in collaboration with external experts and the Ministry of Economy, established a system of selecting Key National Clusters (KNC) in Poland.

Methodological actions were undertaken and they were related to the ordering and consolidation of basic definitions of notions regarding clusters, quality analysis of secondary national and foreign sources with regard to criteria, indicators and procedures of selection of clusters. The profile of a Key National Cluster was defined.

Profile of a Key National Cluster is the resultant of:
  • Expectations from a KNC described in secondary sources indicated on the example of other countries, especially European countries,
  • Real outcomes achieved by clusters already operating in Poland.


It has been established that a KNC should particularly have the following characteristics:
  • Cluster’s size and structure (number of entities, particularly in the MSME sector, and big enterprises),
  • Employment in the cluster,
  • Activity of participants (members) of the cluster and collaboration within the cluster,
  • Territorial concentration of cluster entities,
  • Cluster specialization,
  • R&D inside the cluster,
  • Cluster innovativeness,
  • Cluster resources (assets, financial, human, etc.),
  • Presence of the cluster and cluster companies on foreign markets,
  • National and international recognizability of the cluster,
  • The role of the coordinator and cluster management.

Polish Agency for Enterprise Development is responsible for the organization of, among others, the Secretariat of the Evaluation Commission in order to ensure the substantive and technical service of the Contest on all the stages of evaluation of the submitted applications. The terms on which the Contest is organized, the Evaluation Commission’s procedure, and the process of application evaluation are regulated by the Contest Regulations.

Lp.Key National Cluster NameSectorCoordinator’s NameKNC status expiry date
1.Aviation Valley ClusteraviationAssociation of Aviation Industry Entrepreneur Group "Dolina Lotnicza"30 September 2018
2.Polish Aluminum Clusterfounding, metal processingCity Consulting Institute Sp. Z O.O.30 September 2018
3.Masovian ICT ClusterICTStowarzyszenie Rozwoju Społeczno-Gospodarczego "Wiedza"30 September 2018
4.InterizonICTInterizon Foundation30 September 2018
5.Eastern Construction ClusterconstructionPolish Advisory and Consulting Association30 September 2018
6.Metal Processing ClusterConstruction of machines, devices, tools for industrial sectors: agriculture and food, machine, medical, yacht, corporate specialized servicesCenter for Promotion of Innovation and Development30 September 2018
7.West Pomeranian Chemical Cluster "Zielona Chemia"chemistryAssociation West Pomeranian Chemical Cluster "Zielona Chemia"30 September 2018
8.Skalski Aviation ClusteraviationAviation Company Federation BIELSKO31 October 2019
9.NUTRIBIOMED ClusterLifescience: food, pharmacy, biotechnology, cosmetics, medicine, chemistryWrocławski Park Technologiczny S.A.31 October 2019
10.Logistics and Transport Cluster North-Southtransport, logisticsZarząd Nadbałtyckich Inicjatyw Klastrowych Sp. z o.o.31 October 2019
11.MedSilesia – Silesian Network of Medical Productsmedicine, biomedicine, medical services rehabilitationGórnośląska Agencja Przedsiębiorczości i Rozwoju sp. z o.o.31 October 2019
12.Eastern Cluster ICTICTWschodnia Agencja Rozwoju Sp. z o. o.31 October 2019
13.Cluster LifeScience Cracowmedicine, biomedicine, medical services rehabilitationFoundation Cluster LifeScience Cracow31 October 2019
14.Balanced Infrastructure ClusterSmart balanced energy-saving and passive construction, building automation and technologies with the use of renewable energy sourcesInstytut Doradztwa Sp. z o.o.31 October 2019
15.Waste Management and Recycling ClusterEnvironmental protection, renewable energy sources , recyclingCENTRUM KOOPERACJI RECYKLINGU – not for profit system sp. z o.o.31 October 2019
16.Bydgoszcz Industrial ClusterProduction of tools for plastic processing, plastic processingBydgoszcz Industrial Cluster31 October 2019