Eurada News nº387 - April 2019

European Cluster Policy: Using clusters to support European SMEs

The EU Cluster Portal provides tools and information on key European initiatives, actions and events for clusters and their SMEs with the aim of creating more world-class clusters across the EU. Stay up to date in European Cluster policy and find the current and past programmes and opportunities that the Cluster Team from the EC’s DG GROW has offered with the help of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform.

Clusters are groups of specialised enterprises – often SMEs – and other related supporting actors that cooperate closely together in a particular location. In working together SMEs can be more innovative, create more jobs and register more international trademarks and patents than they would alone.

Clusters operate together in regional markets. 38% of European jobs are based in such regional strongholds and SME participation in clusters leads to more innovation and growth. There are about 2000 statistical clusters in Europe, of which 150 are considered to be world-class in terms of employment, size, focus and specialisation.

According to the European Cluster Excellence Scoreboard, for a number of selected emerging industries and regions in the period 2010-2013, 33.3 % of firms in clusters showed employment growth superior to 10%, as opposed to only 18.2% of firms outside clusters.

The European Commission, and especially DG GROW, has promoted during the last framework program, different initiatives and projects to promote the cluster policy. Firstly, through the creation of a European Cluster Collaboration Platform, and secondly through several Calls for proposals. The European Cluster Collaboration Platform is a service facility aiming to provide cluster organisations with modern tools that allow them: developing trans-national and international collaborations, support the emergence of new value chains through sectorial collaboration or access to latest quality information on cluster policy.  The services of the platform include : mapping of over 1000 profiled clusters worldwide, information hub (news, events, open calls), partner search facility, dedicated pages supporting international cooperation including profiles of selected countries of strategic interest and related European international support services a unique database of profiled cluster-related projects developed under various European programmes.

Other initiative carried out by the DG Grow was the creation of an EU Cluster Portal, with the aim of providing cluster managers and policy makers with tools and information on key European initiatives, actions and events for clusters and their SMEs with the aim of creating more world-class clusters across the EU. Among the various tools the most remarkable ones shall be the:  European Cluster observatory (statistical information, analysis and mapping of clusters and cluster policy in Europe), or the Emerging industries clustering ( policies, programmes and activities for new industrial sectors or existing industrial sectors and value chains that are evolving into new industries), such as Creative Industries or Mobile and Mobility Industries Alliance. 

In the attached documents you could observe the 4 main initiatives developed under COSME by mandate of the EC together with the ECCP.  The aforementioned initiatives are:
1)    Cluster facilitated projects for new industrial value chains- INNOSUP-1 (10 pages concept note)
2)    European Strategic Cluster Partnership for smart specialisation investments- (ESCP-S3)
3)    Cluster Internationalisation Programme for SMEs (ECCP) – (COS-CLUSINT-2016-03-01)
4)    COSME European Cluster Excellence Programme (last call 4th April 2019) – (COS-CLUSTER-2018-03-02)

Article written by Alain Gutiérrez, Policy Officer at EURADA