This event brought together all the European Cluster Partnerships supported under the European Commission’s COSME and Horizon 2020 programmes for the first time. These cluster partnerships represent and reach out to around 40,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This included 45 European Strategic Cluster Partnerships (for Going International, Excellence and Smart Specialisation Investments) and 13 INNOSUP-1 cluster projects for new industrial value chains, which are on track to channel innovation support to over 2,000 SMEs.
The partnership stories presented by the different projects highlighted their experiences beyond meeting targets. The participants discussed how to best support SMEs and how to make partnering strategic, sustainable and mutually compatible. This information will feed into the Smart Guide on European Strategic Cluster Partnership, being prepared by the European Observatory for Clusters and Industrial Change.
Event participants came up with 13 burning topics and discussed topics such as co-designing new cluster services for SMEs, identifying the right international counterparts, new learning and community support services from platforms like the European Cluster Collaboration Platform, and training and interregional mobility. They also learned about actions related to the Commission's Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills.
The participants also discussed how to shape the next generation of EU cluster initiatives proposed under the draft Single Market Programme. Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit for Advanced technologies, Clusters and Social economy at the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs presented the Commission's vision for moving from European Cluster Partnerships toward Joint Cluster Initiatives. Through electronic voting, conference participants called for a funding mix of bigger and smaller cluster partnerships, and for focusing activities on internationalisation, innovation uptake and the scaling-up of SMEs.
The call to organise events as part of EU Cluster Weeks was also launching at the event. This is the first edition of a campaign promoting national, regional and local cluster events all over Europe. It runs between November 2018 and April 2019, and will begin with the Joint Romanian-Hungarian Cluster Conference 2018 and the Future Week Denmark in late November.
This event followed project meetings organised by the Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) on the previous day. Two European strategic cluster partnerships for internationalisation on dual-use technologies and nine partnerships for smart specialisation investments linked to the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation started their projects at the event.