The Cluster Innovation Platform
The Cluster-IP is a European initiative funded under Europe INNOVA, with the aim to accelerate the take-up of innovation and growth of cluster firms in Europe, especially of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The initiative focuses on the development and testing of new or better innovation support targeted at cluster firms, in particular in eco-innovative industries and biotechnology.
The Cluster-IP brings together cluster organisations from different countries willing to cooperate in working on the modernisation of cluster support services in the EU. This includes the design and testing of new support tools, but also the experimentation with new forms of cluster cooperation. The Cluster-IP contributes to better support for innovative SMEs to internationalise and to access excellence available elsewhere. The specific needs of cluster firms as well as the potential role of clusters in addressing societal challenges and in fostering user-driven innovation need to be taken into account.
The Cluster-IP is open for cooperation with other initiatives and to engaging with new partners as associates in order to become a true European Platform for the specific cluster sectors. Specific attention is paid to leveraging proven and tested solutions into the Enterprise Europe Network that offers great potential to strengthen the impact of new cluster tools developed under Europe INNOVA.
Two cluster partnerships act as laboratories searching for “better practice” in support of innovative cluster firms. These partnerships have become the driving engine of the Cluster-IP. Each cluster partnership addresses a number of specific challenges to better respond to the specific needs of potential high-growth companies active in eco-innovative industries and biotechnology.
- The “EcoCluP” cluster partnership aims to support over 1200 companies in eco-innovative industries in their pursuit of growth and internationalisation and involve around 800 other stakeholders such as research institutions. EcoCluP offers specialised support through training, coaching, matchmaking events, voucher schemes, and by leveraging other tools . Mutual cluster visits are organised and internationalisation strategies for 13 eco-innovation clusters are developed. EcoCluP also aims at the identification of cooperation opportunities for exploiting the joint research capacity.
EcoCluP’s main challenge is to refine existing cluster support tools to the specific needs of fast-growing eco-innovative firms. The aim must be to leverage improved tools and making them available to cluster organisations in Europe and thus to support firms in the growing eco-industries. This includes making good use of the linkages to the European Eco-innovation Platform (Eco-IP).
- The “ABCEurope” cluster partnership contributes to the establishment of more world-class clusters in the biotechnology sector by supporting the growth of a minimum of 750 biotechnology SMEs through tailor-made support services. ABCEurope focuses on refining internationalisation support services and aims to launch a cross-border innovation voucher scheme. Cluster firm expansion and partnering is facilitated by matchmaking events, training, technology showcases and supported office space for firms visiting partner clusters. ABCEurope also aims to offer guidelines with regards to the exploitation of the joint research capacity and to publish calls for cluster ambassador partners.
ABCEurope’s main challenge is to effectively use the existing expertise in the cluster partnership to advance cluster support tools for the benefit of biotechnology clusters in Europe. For instance, solutions must be found for providing sound Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) support for the internationalisation of innovative SMEs. Another challenge concerns the development and setting up of a mutual cluster ambassador scheme that offers a promising tool to intensify linkages between clusters and its firms.
These cluster partnerships also strive for excellence, by actively contributing to and testing the European Label for Cluster Management Excellence for cluster organisations to be developed under the Cluster Excellence initiative under PRO INNO Europe®.
As a horizontal support action under Europe INNOVA, the European Cluster Observatory facilitates the partnering of cluster organisations and cluster firms as well as promote what clusters have to offer. In its second phase, the Observatory moves beyond cluster mapping towards a full-fledge information service for enterprises and cluster organisations.