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The Results of the First Consultation Among ‘Clusters Go International’ Partnerships

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform invited the European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for Going International (ESCP-4i) funded under the COSME ‘Clusters Go International’ action to respond to a survey related to their general activities, their activities within the ECCP framework and those with a focus on internationalisation. This report aims at exploring the achievements of the ESCP-4i partnerships and gathering information on their upcoming actions.

The current generation of ESCP-4i partnerships was officially launched by the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) in February 2018 in Brussels with a planned duration of two years. The 23 partnerships established in February 2018 were consulted and 19 responses were collected.


  • Key markets targeted by ESCP-4i partnerships for international cooperation

The United States of America is the most selected market for undertaking international activities (8 partnerships) and Canada (7 partnerships) is the second most chosen market. Asia is also an important area, in particular Japan (7 partnerships), China (5 partnerships), India (3 partnerships) and the Republic of Korea (3 partnerships). Israel and South Africa also appear as important markets (4 partnerships each).



  • SME involvement

The involvement of SMEs in ESCP-4i partnerships mainly consists of the establishment of business contacts among members, knowledge sharing and information and exchange, as well as the organisation of international joint business events. The SMEs often come from different sectors and have different work cultures. The dialogue created between SME members from the different cluster ecosystems therefore appears as a success factor to create new business opportunities.

SME members from Strand 1 partnerships have been mostly involved in:

  • Establishment of business contacts between members (8 partnerships)
  • Knowledge sharing and information exchange (7 partnerships)
  • Joint business events (4 partnerships)

SME members from Strand 2 partnerships (6 partnerships) have been strongly involved in:

  • The establishment of business contacts between members
  • Knowledge sharing and information exchange
  • Exports/imports
  • Soft-landing services
  • Joint business events



  • Cooperation agreements

Cooperation agreements are highly strategic activities for ESCP-4i partnerships, as they enable them to structure and engage in new cooperation activities with partners in third countries. A total of 21 cooperation agreements have been signed by ESCP-4i partnerships that responded to this consultation, during their first year of implementation. Most partnerships indicated that they will conduct business missions to countries beyond Europe during their second year of implementation, with the objective to find business partners.

  • Success story from the New Frontiers in Food partnership  

The collaboration between New Frontiers in Food (NF4) ESCP-4i in Strand 2 and Natural Products Canada (NPC) was formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding on May 9th 2019, to develop a long-term partnership strategy and create deeper relationships between European and Canadian SMEs. Since 2016, NF4 and NPC have been collaborating, leading to relevant achievements for European SMEs. A key action was the partnership mission to Canada in October 2018 during the Benefiq event, where NF4 and NPC collaborated to set up a tailored program for companies that joined the mission (including collective visits, business matchmakings, workshops etc.). At the ECCP Matchmaking Event held in Canada on 5-7 June 2019, the collaboration between both initiatives was showcased by NPC, that presented the benefits of cluster collaboration for their respective organisation and SMEs.


For the preparation of this report, the ECCP conducted an online survey among the ESCP-4i partnerships to collect data on their first months of operation. The survey was developed and implemented in collaboration with the EOCIC (European Observatory for Clusters and Industrial Change) to benefit from the synergies between both initiatives. The full report can be accessed here.


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