Cluster associations’ active involvement in Basque RIS3 implementation & deployment, ensuring its translation into action, projects and results in the market.
In order to overcome the challenge, the Basque Government designed a RIS3 participatory entrepreneurial process of discovery, with distributed leadership; Cluster associations as key players in regional economic development, perform an essential role in the Steering Groups of all 3 Priorities (Advanced Manufacturing, Energy and Bio-Health) and 4 Niches of Opportunity - N.O. (Creative & Cultural Industries; Urban Habitat & Sustainable Construction; Environmental Ecosystems; Food), and in the Working Groups, coordinating some of them. E.g.:

• ACICAE Automotive cluster & AFM cluster associations: Advanced Manufacturing priority Steering Committee and WGs.
• ACLIMA Environmental cluster, Ecosystems niche Steering Group
• Cluster de Energia led the Energy Priority.
• GAIA ICT cluster, WG 3 “Innovative Business Models”, Advanced Manuf. Priority.
• Basque Health Cluster, WG 1 “Personalised Medicine”.
• Basque Food Cluster and GAIA have jointly coordinated WG3: “Integration of ICT in production, logistics and marketing”. Food N.O.
• ERAIKUNE Construction cluster coordinated Strategy Line 1 “Industrialized Construction & Virtual Modelling”, Urban Habitat & Sustainable Construction N.O.

The main stakeholders are the Basque Govt.’s President’s Office, leading RIS3, and Departments (incl. Dept. of Economic Dev.), SPRI as Cluster policy Implementing Agency, Cluster Associations and STI system, since this full involvement is the base for S3 & smart public-private investments.

Resources needed

The Basque RIS3 design, implementation & deployment has been a wide open participatory exercise with a high degree of voluntary commitment and generosity of actors engaging, pro bono, their time and effort. All 17 basque cluster managers are involved in RIS3 steering committees / working groups.

Evidence of success

RIS3 WGs with cluster associations have developed concrete initiatives contributing to activate or engage in global emerging value chains:
• CFAA - Advanced Manufacturing Centre - Aeronautics (with AFM Advanced Manufacturing & HEGAN Aerospace Cluster associations)
• Basque Digital Innovation Hub (ACICAE, AFM, GAIA, Cluster de Energía & HEGAN inv).
• Basque Ecodesign Centre (9 cluster associations as partners).
• Offshore Wind Basque Country (Foro Marítimo Vasco & Cluster of Energy involved)

Difficulties encountered

Main challenges: to coordinate different groups of interest, to build a strong and committed governance and to keep up the process momentum.
Lessons learnt: early engagement in the process and responsive support in projects activation are critical factors for securing participation and commitment.

Potential for learning or transfer

This practice is potentially interesting for other regions, since a key success factor for RIS3 is the active involvement in the strategies’ design, implementation and deployment of all stakeholders beyond the regional governments; in particular, of the private sector (large and SMEs), since it ensures the translation of strategies into action, projects and results in the market. And Cluster management organisations (CMOs), as pivotal structures of the triple helix, mobilizing the private business sector, the STI system and the administration in search of competitiveness, are an essential player.

This involvement of clusters in RIS3 requires, first, the Government commitment to build RIS3 through a participatory process with distributed leadership and its belief that CMOs are key partners in regional economic development; second, a regional portfolio of strong and committed CMOs. Mutual trust and engagement are the base for in this collaborative “entrepreneurial discovery” journey.

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Main institution
Regional Government of País Vasco
País Vasco, Spain (España)
Start Date
January 2014
End Date


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