In 2018 eight Lithuanian clusters, participating in the EU project „InoLink“, run by the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) have achieved Cluster management excellence Bronze labels. It is expected that next year two of them will improve and will be able to achieve Silver labels. Clusters were evaluated and labelled by “The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis” (ESCA).  

“We are happy to have record breaking number of clusters achieved Bronze labels this year. Until now, only two clusters in Lithuania had this achievement. We see a big improvement in clusters maturity, our clusters became more competitive internationally and that opens more opportunities for export in foreign markets”, – said Kęstutis Šetkus, director of MITA.  

ESCA label is a management quality label, that distinguish real clusters from cluster initiatives.  Cluster seeking to obtain a label is evaluated according to a number of criteria: the cooperation between cluster members, the creation of joint innovations, projects promotion, educational training or export activities, etc.  

Cluster label is worthy for clusters, which are aiming for export markets. Depending on cluster age, implemented activities, achievements on the market, cluster can be labelled with bronze, silver or gold labels. 

Different label means different status: bronze label clusters are observing the market, participating in state aid projects. Silver ones mean higher status – cluster’s representatives are invited to working groups with government policy, they are listened. Highest status is gold label – these clusters help to shape new trends in policies. 

Representatives of bronze labelled clusters are pleased with their well-deserved recognition, however they are not going to rest on their laurels. According to them, the tag is only an additional plus to the portfolio of ongoing activities and projects. “A cluster playing internationally must have a quality label. If they do not, then the partners do not look at the cluster as a serious partner” – said Julius Paužolis, manager of LITEK cluster – “Getting a label provides an opportunity to review and improve the cluster management strategy and processes. We are glad that we are acting  according to the European standard”. 

Giedrius Bagušinskas, “SMARTFOOD” cluster manager, compares ESCA labels with the belts of martial arts: “Achieved belt means some achievement and acquired new skills. The bronze label in this case equals to yellow or orange belt, silver - blue, and golden - black belt. An athlete can be good without a belt, but this belt gives a certain status, the same as label for a cluster.” According to Mr. Gierius Bagušinskas, “the label indicates, that the cluster is serious and reliable partner, that is worth cooperating.”