Establishement of seven regional innovation cluster in seven thematic areas in line with RIS3 in order to support SMEs competiteveness.
In 2009 Piedmont Region started a cluster policy establishing 12 regional innovation clusters in 12 different thematic areas in order to support SMEs’ innovation, cooperation and research activities. In 2015 Region undertook a process of revision of the clusters to face these challenges:
- rationalize the number of cluster and align them to RIS3 priority areas;
- increase the qualified range of services;
- strengthen their role and the relations with policy makers.
Analysis of previous results led to the identification of 7 domains. For the selection of the Cluster management organizations (CMOs) Region lunched a public call for the constitutions of the following clusters: Smart Products and Manufacturing, Green Chemistry and Advanced Materials, Energy and Clean Technologies, Information and Communication Technologies, Agrifood, Textile, Life Sciences. Piedmont Region planned actions to develop and strengthen clusters in terms of innovation capacities, business opportunities, competences, communication and marketing, internationalization.
Each CMO implement an action plans and Piedmont Region supports the process of reinforcing the role of clusters at regional, national and European level.
Main activities carried out so far include:
- strengthening partnerships and capacity of CMOs in supporting SMEs
- sharing experiences, defining common standards and tools for communication
- involving CMOs in the internationalization strategic dialogue.
5M€ under the ROP-ERDF 2014-2020 to support cluster activities.
Estimated human resources needed are approximately 6 persons to set up and 21 to run the practice.
Evidence of success
- Reduced cluster fragmentation (from 12 to 7 clusters)
- more cooperation among clusters of different sectors
- CMOs activity more oriented to the selection of R&D projects
- more cooperation (organization of 7 meetings with CMOs, one for each cluster, and 1 plenary meeting with all clusters
- increased CMOs development of skills and training (over 40 training agencies' agreements and 200 Research Organizations' collaboration
- over 200 international and inter-regional collaborations.
Difficulties encountered are mostly related to the existing differences among clusters management bodies (some of them have been merged during the last revision of cluster policy) and mainly to the difficulties to adapt this approach to very different and wide application areas.
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice can be potentially interesting for other regions that need to align Cluster policy, supporting SMEs development, with smart specialization strategy priorities.
Despite clusters policies among European regions are not homogenous and not easy to compare, this approach might support others regions to foster :
- new policy support schemes improving the clusters ecosystem;
- specialisation of the cluster management team;
- working as a coordinated system (sharing experiences, goals and define a common methodology to identify priorities)
This approach is particularly effective for regions considered in transition that need to become more competitive and resilient in the context of major changes brought by globalisation.