One of the main goals of Business Beyond Borders initiative is to help SMEs and Clusters in Europe expand their business market by fostering matchmaking meetings with new potential business partners at renowned trade fairs across the globe. Several clusters have taken part in our BBB events, and their presence has contributed to better showcase EU industry sectors and the possibilities for international partnerships among EU and overseas companies.
To acknowledge and thank all the clusters who have participated in, and supported, our BBB events around the world, we would like to introduce to you the biggest cluster collaboration platform in Europe. We sat down with Lucia Seel, Communication and Content Manager for the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP), a service facility for cluster organisations in Europe and beyond. Read her interview below to know more about the ECCP and what it can do for you and your cluster!
Could you give us a brief overview of the history and work of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP)?
The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) is an action of the Cluster Internationalisation Programme for SMEs funded by the COSME programme, and launched by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Competitiveness and SMEs (DG GROW) in 2016.
An ECCP cluster survey showed that internationalisation remains a major challenge for this community of actors. 87% of respondents are interested to go international for the benefit of their SMEs and 34% are currently involved in cooperation with countries outside the EU.
Today, the ECCP is considered a leading hub for facilitating cluster collaboration at European and global level by building linkages between clusters from Europe and third countries. The main goal is to help SMEs involved in clusters to access third markets and find strategic partners in global value chains. The ECCP currently gathers over 820 cluster organisations with an average of 100 SMEs per cluster, thus reaching out to about 82 000 SMEs across Europe.
What are the main services provided by the ECCP?
The ECCP provides networking and information support for clusters and their members aiming to improve their performance and increase their competitiveness through trans-national and international cooperation.
The services include:
- a dynamic mapping of more than 820 profiled cluster organisations worldwide;
- access to the largest information hub for clusters, offering the latest news/events/open calls to a broad community;
- matchmaking events supporting the development of cooperation between clusters in Europe and beyond;
- a unique database on regional, national, international and sectoral cluster networks;
- access to detailed information on the European Strategic Cluster Partnerships;
- a “partner search” facility, where cluster organisations can exchange their offers and demands;
- dedicated pages supporting international cooperation efforts, including profiles of selected countries of strategic interest and related European international support services;
- a unique database of profiled cluster-related projects developed under various European programmes.
The ECCP addresses primarily cluster management needs, but its rich content is useful for both SME cluster members and for cluster policy-makers at regional, national or international level.
Could you name some of the ECCP’s greatest achievements?
The greatest achievement is probably the fact that the ECCP managed to build the largest cluster community by providing a space for cluster organisations and cluster-interested users to present themselves, to pro-actively share and exchange information about their activities and to learn about collaboration opportunities. The platform is rich in content (and growing on a daily basis) – more than 820 profiled cluster organisations, 1000 news items, 800 events, 140 calls for proposals, 40 cluster networks and associations, 40 EU-funded cluster projects and the special community of the 48 European Strategic Cluster Partnerships Going International are some of the reasons behind our 11.000 monthly website visitors. But this is just content-wise. What really matters in a community are the people, their interactions that lead to more collaboration – in the case of cluster organisations, for the benefit of their SMEs. We are proud that the ECCP matchmaking events managed to bring together more than 300 participants from Europe and 140 from beyond Europe in almost 2200 bilateral meetings, leading to more than 400 initiated or already established cluster cooperation agreements/partnerships.
How can initiatives like Business Beyond Borders be an added-value to clusters?
Initiatives like Business Beyond Borders bring added-value to clusters by complementing the ECCP activities, by enabling clusters and their members to reach out to additional countries beyond Europe such as Australia, Chile, India and South Africa.
What is the most important thing for the clusters to consider when internationalising?
Going together is better than going alone. This is why the European Strategic Cluster Partnerships Going International encourage and support cluster organisations to build European cross-sectorial partnerships when addressing markets beyond Europe. Besides the synergies created within the partnership, which may lead to extra collaboration opportunities, the European “offer” on such markets gets enrichened in complexity and added-value and has increased chances of implementation.
And of course, preparation is always key!
Thank you for taking the time to interview with BBB!
Thank you as well for the possibility to shortly introduce the ECCP to the BBB participants. Your readers can know more about it on our website, by subscribing to our Weekly Digest and Newsletter or by following us on Twitter (@Clusters_EU) and LinkedIn.