European Strategic Cluster Partneships for smart specialisation investments


In order to facilitate strategic interregional collaborations and strong industry involvement, and to create a project pipeline for smart specialisation investments across Europe, the European Commission started to offer support to regional authorities, clusters and industry stakeholders through an integrated approach to smart specialisation, clusters and industrial modernisation. This approach combines two mutually reinforcing initiatives:

European Strategic Cluster Partneships

First, the Commission has set up Thematic Smart Specialisation Platforms to bring together regional authorities interested in joining forces in the implementation of their RIS3 strategies. This approach was launched in 2015 with the set-up of the Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy and two additional Thematic Platforms on Industrial Modernisation and on Agri-Food in 2016, with possibly others to follow.

Second, the Commission is starting with this call for proposals to mobilise European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments. These partnerships should be composed of cluster organisations, other business network organisations, technology centres and science parks aiming to boost inter-regional collaborations and innovation activities amongst groups of SMEs in specific thematic areas, related industries and value chains. Moreover, the strategic partnering of cluster organisations is not left to happen at random but with a specific linkage to the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform on Industrial Modernisation.

Expected Impact:

The European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments shall contribute to:

  1. developing and implementing a joint cluster partnership strategy with a common “European” vision for a given specific smart specialisation priority (including a joint branding and marketing), identifying collaboration and investment opportunities and drafting a roadmap of such joint activities;
  2. implementing joint activities with a view to mobilise inter-regional collaboration and investments of industry actors, notably SMEs, and provide related business, technology and growth support services for the preparation and implementation of joint innovation and investments projects; and
  3. improving the cluster-specific framework conditions in the partners’ regions by (a) identifying, preparing and testing new joint activities to strengthen cluster cooperation across the partnership; (b) gathering concrete feedback from SMEs on their specific barriers to innovation, skills, cooperation and investment (notably to feed into the discussions in the context of the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platform on Industrial Modernisation); and (c) undertaking activities to build linkages with other relevant European, national or regional initiatives and key networks aiming to address such barriers.

Most impact is expected from interregional collaboration if a dual approach is followed by involving both committed regional authorities (in charge of the implementation of smart specialisation strategies for research and innovation investments under the European Structural and Investment Funds) as well as the industry (mobilised via specialised SME intermediaries such as cluster organisations, business networks, technology centres and science parks). Therefore, this call aims to complement the mobilisation of interregional RIS3 partnerships of regional authorities under the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation by generating corresponding partnerships of specialised SME intermediaries, and vice versa.

Types of action: COSME-GA Grant agreement
Opening date:
12 December 2017
Deadline: 08 March 2018

Source: Horizon 2020 – The European Commission