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Sectors: Economy - Finances, Industry, Innovation, SME Policy

Beneficiaries: SMEs

Regions: Candidate countries, European Economic Area, European Union, Mediterranean countries, New Independant States

Category: Call for Proposals

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Additional info regions:

Enlargement countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey
Eastern Neighbourhood countries: Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine
EEA countries: Iceland

Amount:

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WE funding – COSME – Strengthen… 
Funds for: Strengthening cluster management excellence and facilitate partnerships
Main beneficiaries: SMEs

Responsible: European Commission

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Funds for: Strengthening cluster management excellence and facilitate partnerships
Main beneficiaries: SMEs

Priorities and funded actions:

Objective
* Strengthen cluster management excellence and facilitate exchanges and strategic partnering between clusters and specialised eco-systems across Europe, including through implementing a new “ClusterXchange” pilot scheme;
* Foster SME competitiveness and assist companies to successfully access global markets by exploiting the innovation and growth potential that clusters can offer;
* Enhance the collaboration, networking and learning of cluster organisations and their members towards the professionalization of specialised and customised business support services provided or channelled to SMEs;
* Contribute to strengthening ties between European ecosystems across regional and sectoral silos with the view to support a sustainable inter-regional partnering process and joint actions for strategic collaboration in various industrial specialisation areas linked to industrial modernisation and improving their business environment;
* Foster cluster excellence capacity-building and promote cross-cluster learning in order to help cluster organisations and their members to acquire the necessary skills and take actions to explore and take up new solutions;
* Further 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 facilitate their access to technology centres and other scaling-up support organisations

Priorities
* Enhancing cluster managers’ skills towards added-value SME support services;
* Supporting the development of a comprehensive cluster strategy for individual clusters, including for strengthened interregional collaboration and partnership development across EU value chains;
* Organising twinning, collaboration, networking and learning activities and cooperation projects; 
* Supporting the implementation of a new “ClusterXchange” pilot scheme

Among financed actions
* Cluster excellence capacity-building activities:
– Assessment of cluster organisation(s) through the European Cluster Management Excellence Labelling and benchmarking currently carried out by the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA);
– Targeted training actions for cluster managers addressing identified areas for improvement;
– Training activities with regard to digitalisation and the creative economy as well as resource-efficiency/decarbonisation and circular economy are encouraged;
– Coaching and mentoring aimed at the development of strategic cluster management skills and/or the achievement of clearly defined activities;
– Strategic consultation and collaboration with regional authorities;
– Cluster innovation and growth potential analysis;
– Value-chain analysis;
– Cross-sectoral and trends analyses towards digitalization, the creative Economy as well as resource-efficiency/decarbonisation and the Circular Economy;
– Development or update of a mid-term strategy (three to five years horizon) for the partnership, taking into account specific roles for each of the clusters of the partnership;
– Development or update of an implementation roadmap for the strategy, including plans for the timing and the respective short-term and mid-term actions to be implemented;
– Value chain and market analysis, both within the Single Market and as part of global value chains, corresponding to the cluster organisations’ needs and building upon identified results of SME member’s need analyses, surveys and/or alternative feedback methods;
– Design of a monitoring system for impact indicators capturing impact on supporting the growth and the competitiveness of SME members;
* Activities for the implementation of the ClusterXchange pilot scheme:
– Promotion of the programme;
– Enrolment of participants (visiting and host organisations);
– Assessing applications from visiting and host organisations;
– Building exchanges;
– Management of grant agreements, commitments and financial assistance;
– Preparation and follow-up of the exchange;
– Management, quality control and evaluation;
– Active outreach, networking and engagement;
* Outreach and awareness-raising activities:
– Design of a dissemination, outreach and communication plan;
– Dissemination and communication activities and events, e.g. to implement dissemination, outreach and communication plan;
– Other relevant outreach and awareness-raising activities appropriately justified

Additional information
* This call for proposals is an open call for proposals

* Initial duration of the project: between 20 and 24 months. In duly justified cases, proposals for projects scheduled to run for more than 24 months may be considered

* Eligibility
– Be a legal entity;
– Be a for-profit making or non-profit entity;
– Be: a cluster organisation or a business network organisation involved in supporting the enhancement of collaboration, networking and learning in innovation clusters to stimulate innovative activities;
– A consortium composed of at least 3 different legal entities and established in a minimum of three different EU Member States or countries participating in the COSME programme must be established. Out of the these entities, at least one consortium member must represent an organisation established in a region classified as “less developed” or “in transition” according to the mapping proposed for Structural Funds eligible for the period 2014-2020