2012 will be the year for DG Enterprise and Industry that will mark the start of a new policy, namely better promoting SME internationalisation through clusters.
For many years, the main emphasis has been on supporting the emergence of new clusters and, in particular at European level, to facilitate cooperation among clusters from different regions and sectors in order to scale them up.
"The challenge today is to make better use of them also in support of other policy goals, such as supporting SME internationalisation and promoting the more strategic use of transnational cluster cooperation in markets beyond Europe. After one and half years of preparation, we are now ready to launch new activities at EU level that will contribute to achieving such policy goals", announced Christophe Guichard, Policy Officer at DG Enterprise and Industry, Support for Industrial Innovation Unit.
Christophe Guichard, Policy Officer at DG Enterprise and Industry, Support for Industrial Innovation Unit
These activities will, in particular, include:
• The publication of a Handbook on cluster internationalisation (European Cluster Alliance – Task Force on international cluster cooperation – 'Guidelines' version available at: http://www.proinno-europe.eu/eca/page/results-publications) by a Task Force of the European Cluster Alliance aimed at providing guidelines on why and how to foster international cluster cooperation. The Handbook is a useful tool that enables cluster organisations to identify the specific benefits of international cooperation and to determine the main drivers for internationalisation, including access to new technology, knowledge and markets, as well as raising their profile and visibility at international level. The Handbook will be presented and made available at the European Cluster Conference in April 2012 in Vienna, Austria.
• The launch of 4 new projects aimed at "Promoting international cluster activities in the CIP participating countries" with a total budget 3.1 Mio Euros. This action will provide incentives for stronger cooperation among regional and national cluster programmes with a view to develop international cluster cooperation in foreign markets beyond Europe and to provide SMEs with more effective support for internationalisation.
This action is led by public authorities responsible for cluster programmes and initiatives such as the French Ministry of Economy, Finances and Industry, the Basque Government, the Enterprise Rhône-Alpes International Agency and the Catalan Competitive Agency. The 4 projects also involve 18 cluster organisations across 10 CIP participating countries active in the field of clean technologies and new materials, renewable energies, biotechnology and life sciences, and sport sector. "We consider this initiative as a breakthrough action at European level contributing to the creation of more globally competitive clusters and cluster firms in Europe. It has generated considerable interest from French clusters. We hope it will have significant impact for the industrial sectors involved and we expect the Commission to continue to take the lead for such activities in the future", commented Sophie Bertrand, Deputy Head of International Partnerships at the French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Finance, DGCIS.
Sophie Bertrand, Deputy Head of International Partnerships at the French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Finance, DGCIS
• The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP, see at: www.clustercollaboration.eu) is a main EU instrument for promoting transnational cluster cooperation. The ECCP is an open online platform that provides a wide range of information and services to facilitate the interaction between companies, clusters, and cluster organisations not only within Europe but also with international partners. In view of fostering closer cooperation worldwide, the ECCP has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with partners in India, Japan, Brazil and South Korea in 2011, and more such collaboration agreements are envisaged in the coming months with other third countries, notably the neighbouring South Mediterranean countries. Building upon these MoUs, the ECCP shall become the cornerstone of the European strategy in support of SME internationalisation through clusters.
• Specific matchmaking events will be organised in 2012 and 2013 to prepare the ground for more practical cooperation in support of SME internationalisation through clusters. The matchmaking events will be held in countries that have signed MoUs with the European Cluster Collaboration Platform and will allow delegations of European SMEs and cluster organisations to establish new partnerships and networks in strategic markets outside Europe. In preparation of each event, an open call for expression of interest will be launched on the ECCP to identify the European delegation of cluster representatives and a specific field or sector will be selected in order to establish a maximum of concrete cooperations/parnterships with international partners.