In 2019, eleven cluster organizations in Slovakia received a bronze management quality certificate awarded by the European Cluster Analysis Secretariat. Together with the previous five badges of excellence obtained in 2018, they show that the Slovak Republic is one of the leading countries that create favorable conditions and environment for the establishment and development of cluster organizations. So the interest of Slovak clusters in international certification is growing.
At the same time, the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency (SIEA) managed to build an expert team trained within the European Cluster Analysis Secretariat (ESCA) and the European Cluster Excellence Foundation (EFCE).
This development in Slovakia is not random but is the result of almost a decade since the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency (SIEA) started to participate intensively in international projects aimed at better use of innovation capacities of clusters, improving the conditions of their mutual cooperation in Eastern Europe, participation in international networks and platforms, European certification, building their own expertise and, last but not least, creating a strong “Stakeholder Group” within the ClusterFY project.
This expert group, consisting of representatives of individual clusters, the Union of Clusters of Slovakia, the Ministry of Economy of the Slovak Republic (MoE) and SIEA (formed mainly of coordinators of national and international projects) has become an informal platform for mutual information transfer, seeking suitable forms of cooperation and participation in setting up conditions for the support of clusters within the state scheme of the MoE.
New clusters in Slovakia are being established “from the bottom - up” at the initiative of innovative companies, research and development institutions and secondary schools/universities in perspective areas linked to RIS3 (Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization of the Slovak Republic).
Clusters in the creative and digital industry (China - ECEC Blockchain Center of Excellence, House of Events Innovation), energy and environment (SBaA - Slovak Battery Alliance), information technology for industry (Intelligent Industry Association - Industry4UM, Industry Innovation Cluster) and others can serve as examples of good practices.
Another positive trend, which can serve as a good of practice for other countries, is the adoption of a system of multi-source financing of cluster activities from the national project through the relevant MoE scheme to the actual participation of individual clusters in international projects.
Supporting the international certification of clusters and building an SIEA expert team is also one of the objectives of the National Project “Increasing the Innovation Performance of the Slovak Economy”, Sub-Activity 3 - Forecasting and Evaluation of Innovation Performance. list of certified and recertified clusters is available on the ESCA websites.