Catalonia Trade & Investment completes a European project with Denmark and Austria to exchange experiences on cluster policies

Catalan Economy

16 May 2022

ACCIO-Catalonia Trade & Investment, the public agency working to attract foreign direct investment to Barcelona and Catalonia, has completed the project Clusters Innovation Programme (CLIP), together with Lower Austria and Denmark.

The goal of the project is aimed at improving and innovating cluster policies through sharing knowledge and experiences. The results of the project have been published in the report Dilemmas of Mature Cluster Programmes.

This initiative, performed as part of the Horizon 2020 programme, lasted 14 months and the main areas of study were the green transition, digitalization, globalization, and social challenges.

The project was based on promoting co-learning so each territory could learn from others’ experiences and implement their own practices in order to renew and develop cluster policy and programs.

The joint challenges of the three territories were studied, based on eight dilemmas:

  1. Evolution or revolution of the program
  2. Multilevel or single-level cluster programs
  3. Cluster Portfolio Transformation
  4. Club or crowd
  5. Capturing new trends
  6. Policy interaction
  7. Accountability: visibility and impact of cluster policy on society
  8. Governance

The project was structured around activities such as work meetings, focus groups, webinars and outreach events. These included cluster organizations and other relevant agents of the ecosystem in order to compile their comments and suggestions.

It proved to be a highly enriching experience for all three partners, who had the opportunity to reflect on common challenges in mature ecosystems based on a relationship of mutual trust.

This project also confirmed that Catalonia continues on its path towards excellence in terms of clusters, contrasting its model with two leading European territories with significant and longstanding cluster backgrounds.

On one hand, it became obvious that there is no single recipe for success and that each region must adapt to its own characteristics and needs.

For Catalonia, the accountability and decision-making models of Lower Austria and Denmark, which are largely based on objective, quantifiable data, proved inspiring to refine the Catalan system.

Furthermore, the process has started a debate on the possibility of evolving toward a multilevel cluster program to add more value in a segmented way.

Likewise, Catalonia also offered useful examples to the other two participants. The Catalan RIS3CAT indicator system served as an inspiration to Ecoplus (the Austrian cluster management agency) in order to quantify the contribution of its clusters to green transformation and digitization.

In addition, they have plans in the future to study and work on the concept of shared value that is being promoted in Catalonia.

The Cluster Excellence Denmark also took special note of the Catalan approach to the governance of the system, taking into special consideration the links and the continuous dialogue between the administration and the cluster presidents.

What’s more, they are currently in the process of redefining cluster support services and plan to incorporate elements of ACCIO-Catalonia Trade & Investment’s model.

Catalonia Clusters Programme

The government’s Catalonia Clusters Programme supports 25 Catalan clusters, bringing together over 2,300 companies and associated agents and featuring a turnover of more than 69 billion euros.

These over 2,300 members represent a diverse network of players, including SMEs (68%); large companies (10%); research centers, universities and knowledge providers (9%); startups (8%); and local stakeholders (5%).

This initiative, among other things, aims to help them focus strategies, train cluster managers, co-finance strategic projects, organize trips to relevant ecosystems to perform international benchmarking and set up collaborative projects between Catalan clusters or with international entities.

Download the report Dilemmas of Mature Cluster Programmes.

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