How can clusters be more strategic in their internationalisation?

Submitted by Imogen Allan on 17 September 2021

The 7th ECCP capacity-building webinar on 14 September 2021 explored how clusters can be more strategic when it comes to internationalisation. Over 100 participants – mostly cluster managers and staff – from EU and COSME countries attended.

The internationalisation of cluster organisations can help businesses, especially SMEs, to improve their competitiveness and maximise their presence in global value chains. To support this process, cluster organisations should focus on how they can help their members and their ecosystem to go international and thrive abroad.

Firstly, Christophe Guichard from the European Commission’s DG GROW highlighted that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted international markets and severely affected European companies with a shortage of supplies. He stated that clusters have a major role to play in the recovery as they can accelerate access to global chains and strengthen the resilience of global markets, as well as boost the internationalisation of SMEs.

Secondly, Dr Christian Ketels from Harvard Business School stated that in a global and competitive world, internationalisation support for cluster organisations and their members, particularly SMEs, is of critical importance. A cluster internationalisation strategy can help leverage a cluster’s assets and capabilities and build knowledge and skillsets. He proposed three steps for an effective internationalisation strategy: diagnostics, choice and action.

The next speaker was Xavier Amores, from the Catalan Water Partnership (CWP). As a success story, the CWP signed an agreement with the largest water cluster in the US. Since then, they have participated in international events together, networked and cooperated to attract investment.  Key recommendations for clusters include investing time in learning about other clusters, prioritising a small number of markets and investing in people.

Finally, Fanny Moutin from Pôle Mer Méditerranée, a French sea innovation cluster, discussed how it is vital to provide specific support for SMEs as they have more limited resources. She outlined that Pôle Mer Méditerranée counts on a dedicated Europe Helpdesk to help its members join international projects and build consortiums by identifying relevant calls, finding partners, co-drafting and revising the project. The cluster makes use of projects like H2020 and COSME to support SMEs. She stated that it is vital to work with partners from both the public and the private sectors.

The webinar concluded with a pitch session where three different entities ( Enterprise Europe Network, EUCLES,  and the ECCP) showed what support the EU can provide for clusters looking to go international.

Click here to learn more about this webinar.

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