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About SBA

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About the Clusters Initiative

The U.S. Small Business Administration is investing in regional clusters throughout the US that span a variety of industries, ranging from energy and manufacturing to agriculture and advanced defense technologies.

Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialized suppliers, academic institutions, service providers and associated organizations with a specific industry focus. They provide high-value, targeted connecting of small and large businesses, including networking with potential industry partners abroad.

Clusters form strong partnerships between universities and private industry, facilitating technology transfer and commercialization of new technology. Clusters can play a critical role in meeting innovation needs in sectors such as energy or defense faster and cheaper than traditional procurement processes.

The map below shows the names and locations of the more than 40 clusters in which SBA is investing, the majority of which represent a collaborative funding opportunity among several Federal agencies. A list of the clusters can be found here. Small businesses interested in participating in a cluster can also refer to the map below for more information about a cluster's area of focus and the region in which it is concentrating its efforts.

SBA Invests in Over 40 Clusters

In the fall of 2010, SBA funded its initial three clusters in collaboration with the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and several other agencies.  These clusters are located in the Greater Philadelphia region, Florida, and Ohio. Read more

SBA Supports Clusters Across the US Learn more

Link to map

Evaluation

Year Two Data Study of the Pilot Clusters Initiative

SBA funded a third-party evaluator to examine the ten pilot clusters in detail, including their various stakeholder participants and the services and activities provided by the clusters, with a focus on small business participants. The second report, published in June 2013, evaluates the outcomes observed during the second year of the initiative, including the employment, revenue, and payroll of the small businesses as well as their ability to spur innovation and obtain financing. Furthermore, the report analyzes the regional economic impact of the economic activity of the clusters’ small business participants.

Key findings and outcomes from Year Two include:

  • Total small business participation in the 10 clusters grew by 380%. Small business participants grew from 179 at the start of the pilot to 859 at the end of the second year.
  • Top reasons for small business participation in the clusters: Networking with other cluster participants (80%); access to cluster services (55%); access to government procurement opportunities (49%); access to new markets (domestic and international) (35%); and integration in the industry’s supply chain (30%).
  • Clusters 4 years or older spent an average of 84% of their SBA funding on providing services to their members rather than on cluster administration during the second year of the pilot.
  • More recently established clusters caught up with their older counterparts, increasing their use of SBA funding on service provision by 67% during the second year of the pilot.
  • Total employment in small business participants grew an average of 18% across the clusters in 2 years. This figure includes a 13% increase in full-time employment.
  • Nearly all the clusters—9 out of 10—experienced an increase in the average revenue of small business participants, 23% across the clusters in 2 years.
  • The median payroll (total compensation paid to employees) of small business participants increased by nearly 18% in 2 years.
  • Small businesses reported filing 111 patents during the second year of the and have been granted 76 during this same period.
  • 46% of responding small businesses reported that their participation in a cluster resulted in greater participation in their industry supply chain during the second year of the pilot.
  • Clusters helped small businesses enhance economic activity.
    • More than $66 million in capital in 2 years through private funding sources, such as loans, venture capital, and angel capital.
    • More than $14 million in early stage investment in 2 years from federal SBIR and STTR awards.
    • More than $807 million in contracts or subcontracts in 2 years won by small businesses.

Click here to download the two-page Executive Summary of the year two report. To download the full year two report click here. To download last years study click here.

Federal Collaborators

Resources

Clusters FAQs

Payment and Invoicing 2011 Jobs Accelerator and Innovation Challenge SBA 7(j) Grant Recipients and the 2012 Advanced Manufacturing SBA 7(j) Grant Recipients. Click here to view FAQs.

Recent Media

A Cluster of Clusters: Where the SBA Is Investing in Regional Economies

 

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