COS-CLUSTPARTNS-2017-3-02: European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for Smart Specialisation Investments

The overall objective of this action is to boost industrial competitiveness and investment in the EU via cross-regional cooperation and networking by supporting the establishment of European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments (ESCP-S3). These partnerships shall facilitate cluster cooperation in thematic areas related to regional smart specialisation strategies and increase the involvement of industry in the context of the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation.

The specific objective of the ESCP-S3 is to foster the collaboration of enterprises, especially SMEs, as well as their interaction with technology centres both within the cluster and across regional and sectoral silos towards generating joint actions and investment projects in common smart specialisation priority areas linked to industrial modernisation and to help improving their business environment. Such mobilisation is envisaged to strengthen the European dimension in the implementation of national and regional smart specialisation strategies and to support a sustainable partnering process for strategic interregional collaboration in various industrial specialisation areas.

The actions and investments that result from the partnerships shall serve to maximise the innovation uptake and productivity increases by matching R&D & innovation solutions and challenges and supporting interregional innovation activities. At the heart of the partnerships shall be the creation of value chain linkages and joint business cooperation projects and investments amongst groups of SMEs in specific industrial areas, including bringing together SMEs from less and more economically advanced regions and clusters.

This shall enable groups of specialised enterprises, notably SMEs, together with other innovation actors in clusters, to find partners with complementary competences, to access value chains that cut across national, regional and sectoral boundaries as well as to facilitate their access to technology centres, in particular those active in Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and Digital Innovation Hubs. As a result, SMEs shall benefit from investments and initiatives related to smart specialisation.

Type of activities

The activities proposed are expected to target the preparatory, implementation and investment phases of possible joint innovation and investments projects. These shall range from strategy-setting and road-mapping, matchmaking activities among partners and their SMEs, facilitating demonstration and pilot projects, helping to shape joint business project proposals into viable and bankable proposals for investments, to offering acceleration support and help with showcasing results. These are further to be supported by dissemination and sustainability activities.

Eligibility of applicants

Applicants must be legal entities forming a consortium. They can be profit-making or non-profit organisations and fully or partly public or private bodies. Private bodies must be properly constituted and registered under national law.

Each legal entity must:

a)    be established in EU Member States and countries participating in the COSME programme pursuant to Article 6 of the COSME Regulation

Important notice for British applicants: Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, you will cease to receive EU funding (while continuing, where possible, to participate) or be required to leave the project on the basis of Article "Change of the legal situation of the beneficiary" of the grant agreement. 


b)    either represent a cluster organisation or business network organisation or technology centre or science park involved in supporting the enhancement of collaboration, networking and learning in innovation clusters to stimulate innovation activities:

  • by providing or channelling specialised and customised business support services, especially to SMEs
  • and/or by promoting the sharing of facilities and exchange of knowledge and expertise, in compliance with the coverage of innovation clusters described in sections 1.2 and 1.3 and Annex I in the "EU Framework for State Aid for Research and Development and Innovation"

c)    be registered or have requested to be registered on the European Cluster Collaboration Platform in the case the applicant represents a cluster organisation or a business network organisation

Submission of proposals

The deadline for electronic submission is 8 March 2018, 17.00 hours (Brussels time).

The link to submission system is available on the Participant Portal

Partner search

If you have a consortium and you are looking for partners to apply to this call or you are looking for a consortium active in the same domain as you, you may use the ECCP by following this link.


Potential applicants should address questions related to the content of this call by e-mail to Only questions sent to this functional mailbox will be answered.

Answers will only be published periodically and within a reasonable period of time on this page. Last questions to be answered are those to be submitted up to 7 days prior to the closing date of this call.

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