In the last few years, Russia has supported the establishment of cluster initiatives to strengthen economic development, open channels for knowledge transfer, raise the national technology base, and integrate domestic manufacturing more prominently into global value chains. This paper studies 25 pilot cluster initiatives, which received financial support within the national programme. The analysis shows that privately funded initiatives tend to use the cluster format as an efficient way to organize economic activities. Publicly funded cluster initiatives, in contrast, are more likely to engage in R&D partnerships with institutes in technologically advanced regions, such as Western Europe or South-East Asia, and thereby act as transfer channels to strengthen the region’s technology base. Also, industries that build on analytical knowledge are more likely to engage in partnerships than industries that use local and tacit knowledge. Still, the cluster management organizations struggle greatly to appoint adequately skilled staff and to cope with limited financial resources, as these are the biggest barriers for cluster internationalization, while cultural differences and geographical distance were of much less importance.
This article empirically appraises the geographical distribution of knowledge-intensive entrepreneurship (KIE) in the settings of an emerging economy. We start from the typical agglomeration approach and then introduce a set of variables related to local market conditions, distance from the economic hub, and knowledge & innovation system to explain KIE location and density on the basis of city-level data in the State of São Paulo, Brazil. Findings indicate KIE concentration in and around a few urban areas, providing support to agglomeration economies concepts. There is strong evidence that the local presence of research-oriented universities, access to capital, and business concentration are correlated to KIE emergence and density. Results also indicate the moderating effect of agglomeration diseconomies mainly related to factors of rapid and anarchic expansion of urban centers and the consequences of extreme inequalities in income distribution. This challenges the usability of concepts of entrepreneurial ecosystems from advanced economies if not adapted to the realities of developing countries.