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TRACE-KEI - TRAns-national Collaboration Empowering Key European Industries

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General Information
COSME/Cluster Excellence/2nd call
Project duration: 
Wednesday, 16 November, 2016 to Thursday, 15 November, 2018
Total budget: 
EU Contribution: 
Partnership Composition: 
Organisation nameFunctionCountryWebsite linkECCP link

Objectives:  TRACE-KEI aims at strengthening the cluster management, in terms of defining medium-long term development strategy and improve the quality of services offered to their associate SMEs. In fact, through project activities (i.e. joint training and study visits), cluster managers will be provided with the necessary skills and tools to strengthen the aspects related to clusters management. As far as strategy development is concerned, cluster managers will get more familiar with analysis of value chains and market foresight, in terms of future development trends and matching with associates and SMEs expectations. At the same time, they will gain the necessary knowledge for strengthen services for SMEs, either through theoretical lectures and through the experiences of EU best performing clusters. TRACe-KEI’s specific objectives are:

  • Improving the cluster management skills through joint trainings and study visits;
  • Improving and tailoring services for the SMEs through evaluation of their specific needs and expectations;
  • Increasing the peer-to-peer learning within and outside the TRACE-KEI consortium;
  • Improving the capabilities of partner clusters to address new and emerging markets even outside EU countries
  • Designing a long-term strategy for further cluster excellence development
  • Reinforce regional cluster policies and initiatives through the involvement of regional policymakers in the workshops for strategy definition at regional level
  • Setting-up collaboration with experienced clusters following the cluster twinning approach
  • Setting-up collaboration with experienced clusters following the approach “Rookies meet experts”
  • Building up synergies and value chains between the 3 presented sectors 


Sectoral/industrial focus: Agro-food, ICT, Energy

Executive Summary  

TRACE-KEI project aims at enhancing the quality of cluster management, increasing the range of services in the partner organisations and raising their competitiveness through a cross-sectorial and cross-border cooperation. TRACE-KEI project’s approach is bottom-up and will work at two levels:

  • From one side, the cluster managers’ needs will be identified and the knowledge gaps bridged through training and mentoring;
  • From the other side, the needs of SMEs will be evaluated and actions to address these weaknesses will be performed accordingly.

The work to be developed consists of the following sets of activities:

  • WP1 - Enhancement of cluster managers' skills towards added-value SME support services - The aim of WP1 is to improve the cluster managers’ skills to support SMEs and to set-up tailor made services for the cluster members. Work package will start from a baseline assessment and will implement a series of tasks useful to increase the cluster managers skills, increasing the SMEs satisfaction and level of participation, deliver new or improved added-value services.
  • WP2 - Development of a comprehensive strategy for the cluster - WP2 aims at setting-up a comprehensive strategy for any of the clusters involved in TRACE-KEI project taking into considerations the Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies and the results of value-chain analysis. Since strategy is extremely important for clusters, SMEs and other cluster associates will be involved in the strategy development. Their feedback will be essential and their engagement is the key for a smooth implementation of the cluster strategy. At the end of the process, a matching will be dome among all the cluster strategies in order to define a common ground for collaborating beyond the end of the project.
  • WP3 - Facilitating cluster cooperation and synergies on skills enhancement and strategy development - This part of activities is aimed at increasing managers’ skills through peer-learning and networking. Training is one of the core activities. Through the joint learning events, cluster managers will acquire pivotal skills to strengthen the day-to-day management and improve the support services offered and the capability to take strategic decision for the benefit of all cluster’s associates. During this WP, TRACE-KEI will work to set-up stable collaboration with other EU clusters.
  • WP4 - Awareness raising and dissemination of project outcomes - WP4 has the following objectives: 
    • To inform member of the clusters about the strategy development and engage them in the relevant project activities;
    • To disseminate the project approach and results among other clusters in the reference regions;
    • To inform relevant stakeholders about project activities and results.


Expected Results: The clearly defined excellence oriented developments, trainings and strategy-building processes will support the service developments/adaptation and the cooperation at consortium level. Comparing to the initial phase - by the end of the project, each cluster involved in the project will have a better portfolio of services, a clearer strategy and roadmap and a common strategy for future activities. Through its activities, TRACE-KEI will create a cascade effect that starting from cluster managers will involve enterprises from different sectors and policy makers that are the two target groups of this action. Starting from the managers TRACE-KEI will create a multiplier effect that involve enterprises in different sectors. Moreover, a strategic collaboration with the relevant regional authorities responsible for industry, innovation and economic development will be initiated. The following performance indicators have been selected:

  • 3 new bronze labels;
  • 14 Cluster Managers involved in the project activities;
  • 284 SMEs directly benefitting from the project through new and improved services;
  • 7 new cluster strategies developed during the project lifespan;
  • 1 TRACE-KEI joint strategy developed at the end of the project;
  • 7 countries outside the consortium addressed by project dissemination activities;
  • Better networking with other clusters in the EU and COSME associated countries;
  • Increased dialogue with policy makers at regional level.

Events organized by the project:

  • 2 joint study visits
  • 2 joint trainings
  • 1 workshop in any of the reference regions