New Delhi February 24, 2014:- The 
 is set to launch a  wherein different clusters of micro, small and medium enterprises can connect on a common platform and share information to help them expand their business.

"We are now introducing a virtual network of clusters which will lend itself to new collaboration and network among multiple actors which are needed by SMEs if they are to remain competitive," MSME Secretary Madhav Lal said at a CII event.

"We are trying to link up academic and research institutes, financial institutions like  and . This will be a network of different stakeholders. We will formally be launching such a platform in the next couple of weeks," he added.

The Virtual Cluster Approach, an initiative of the Ministry of MSME, overcomes the limitations of the Physical Approach requiring the location of the units in one geographical area besides substantial resources for creation of infrastructure. "The loans which are available to MSMEs should be available at a cheap rate," Lal told PTI when asked about the recommendation of a Parliamentary panel that has suggested an upper cap on interest rates by the  for the MSME sector.

The Virtual Cluster Approach will enable small businesses across different sectors to co-exist with their peers on a web-portal. Under the initiative, around 2,000 industrial clusters have been identified for undertaking soft and hard interventions with a view to increase the competitiveness of the enterprises.

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has so far assisted about 850 clusters through its MSE - Cluster Development Programme.
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