In the light of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, and the ongoing transformation of the industrial landscape, the European Commission has developed an industrial policy for the European Union (EU) that addresses the challenges posed by globalisation, climate change and new technological developments. As clusters play a significant role in raising the competitiveness and innovative strength of European businesses, and are thus considered key factors for sustainable economic growth, DG Enterprise and Industry has charged a European Consortium with the development of the second generation of the European Cluster Observatory (ECO II).
With ECO II, the EU Commission aims to create an online platform to be recognised as “the portal” to provide information and analysis of clusters and cluster policy in Europe as a solid foundation for policy-makers and cluster practitioners. On the basis of reliable and comparable data, statistics and indicators, decision-makers should be able to leverage the potential of clusters, including cluster excellence efforts, in order to effectively promote the development of world-class clusters in Europe and set up appropriate policy programmes. The concept of emerging industries with cross-sectoral linkages is of special interest when it comes to fostering entrepreneurship, the integration of SMEs into clusters and the promotion of internationalisation activities through clusters.
The major task of the consortium is to provide statistical analysis (cross-sectoral developments, major trends, framework conditions, and bottlenecks), cluster mapping tools and concrete policy advice regarding the design of a fact-based European cluster policy. Member States and a number of model demonstrator regions shall be individually supported in developing smart specialisation and cluster strategies that help European companies to define and reinforce their globally competitive advantages in emerging industries. Moreover, the consortium will provide tools and measures to facilitate the self-assessment of cluster policy as well as mutual cluster policy learning. Besides the presentation of past developments and current patterns, the consortium will provide an outlook and support for capitalising on future cluster trends and regional industrial change. The project results, ranging from news, analyses, reports to charts and interactive maps, will be visualized on a new interactive website to be interconnected with highly frequented and relevant social networks as well as with existing platforms and networks, such as the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) and the European Cluster Alliance (ECA). In order to reach a broad audience, regular newsletters will be issued and the contents will also be published biannually in a European Cluster Panorama and will be disseminated on the occasion of two high-impact cluster conferences to be organised in October 2014 and in 2016.
For this multidisciplinary task, cross-cutting competences and expertise from seven core consortium partners have been combined. The project is led by VDI/VDE-IT GmbH and includes well known project partners like Technopolis Group, Center for Strategy and Competitiveness of the Stockholm School of Economics, Orkestra, inno Group, and the communication agency TIPIK. The project core team is complemented by the cluster and network management organisation Clusterland Upper Austria GmbH being in charge of the ECCP web portal (http://www.clustercollaboration.eu). The consortium is supported by a number of regional partners, which will contribute when it comes to providing customised advisory support services to selected model demonstrator regions. The project started on January 6, 2014 and will last until the end of 2016.
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