The Basque Country hosted recently a peer review exercise with international experts selected by TCI Network, the global network of organizations and practitioners of competitiveness, clusters and innovation that has coordinated peer review exercises in CLUSTERS3 project’s partner regions.

Gerd Meier Zu Köcker, of VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH, Germany and Alasdair Reid of REID Consulting, Belgium, joint by project partner Linda Jamison of Invest in Northern Ireland, were the reviewers that visited the Basque Country to know first-hand the design and implementation of cluster policy and its role in RIS3.

Throughout this visit, organized by SPRI, international experts had the opportunity to meet and interview representatives and senior officers in charge of other policies and competitiveness related programs managed by the Department of Economic Development and Infrastructures and SPRI development agency, in the areas of Internationalization, Technology and Strategy, and Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Society of Information. The reviewers also met cluster associations’ managers and member companies as well as representatives of the science, technology and innovation ecosystem in the Basque Country (universities and technology centres) active in cluster associations.

The experts team has collected information on relevant aspects, such as: the involvement of cluster association in the design and deployment of RIS3; cluster alignment and collaboration with other actors at the state, cross-border and European level; evaluation of cluster policy and cluster associations’ performance; coherence and coordination with other programs and collaborative projects to boost and the role of cluster association in the related calls; model of financial sustainability of the associations, based on private contributions (via quotas and services) and a public contribution (via an annual plan to stimulate cooperation and projects); prospects for the evolution and growth of associations and clusters in terms of number of companies, impact on competitiveness, new value chains, subsectors, and technologies; cross-cluster cooperation and also the international benchmarking of cluster associations.

The team also visited Automotive Intelligence Centre (AIC) an open innovation facility managed by the Basque Automotive Cluster Association where they could learn more about the direct application and impact of policy on the ground.


Next June, the international experts will deliver a report, with key findings and suggestions for improvement. This exercise of review and contrast with international best practices will be an invaluable contribution to the 2017-2018 Action Plan, which will incorporate the lessons learned and improvement proposals arising from CLUSTERS3 project.