Spain: Catalonia
Mònica Riera
Cluster Manager
100% completed


Type of partnership
Partnership origin
Partnership duration (months)
Number of partners
Number of planned exchanges
Number of SMEs involved

Summary and objectives

According to EC, food is one of the biggest sectors in terms of jobs and added value in Europe, contributing positively to the economical balance of the EU (30 billion). Despite this, the sector is facing some challenges that could affect negatively the sector competitiveness and growth in a short future. Also advanced packaging is on the top 10 fastest growing fields in Europe, according to the report from the European Commission “European Cluster Panorama”, wrote by Dr. Christian Kettels, from Harvard Business School and President of the TCI Network. Moreover, also according to the same report, Catalonia region (two of the 5 clusters of this project are from there) is the second region in terms of the highest number of fastest growing new companies and connect and promote exchanges between gazelle companies and cluster members, it opens new opportunities for SMEs.

The competitiveness of the sector in Europe is decreasing compared to the situation of other economical regions; especially in terms of added value. The EC has identified that behind the decreasing of competitiveness there is a lack of transparency in the supply chain, sub-optimal B2B relationships and lack of attractiveness for skilled workers. In addition, in the last years, the sector has received a higher pressure from society and governments to guarantee healthy food along the different supply and value-chains, to reduce the impact on environment through the development of eco-friendly products and services, green materials, sustainable packaging, etc.

In this context, it is urgent to produce high quality, healthy and safe food ensuring full compliance with circular economy legislation and offering sustainable and smart services and products considering the needs of the end-consumers, promoting the added value of the sector and strengthen their competitiveness and growth. The project SAFE SMART FOOD aims to address these challenges contributing to implement the European legislation and measures and creating the conditions of a favorable ecosystem in the food and packaging sector to boost innovation, competitiveness and internationalization of SMEs and the accomplishment of the Regional Smart Specialization Strategies.

Clusters have to be the drivers of this ecosystem. They play an important role in the process to overcome these challenges, providing excellent services to SMEs, involving a wide range of stakeholders and facilitating the conditions to create an ecosystem that facilitates SMEs competitiveness, innovation, internationalization and growth. But in order to become real drives of this process clusters must have the capacity to create economies of scale, to enhance the cooperation with other sectoral clusters, to involve main sectoral actors (public and private) becoming their main reference, and offer services based on excellence that really address the needs of SMEs. In this sense, Clusters have to strengthen and improve their management and professional competencies and skills to be capable to transform the challenges of the sector into innovation and business and investment opportunities, optimizing their resources and expanding their area of actuation from regional level to European and international level.

SAFE SMART FOOD project will contribute to strengthen and build clusters capacities to make possible that they became the real drivers of this change, facilitating the process of Cluster towards Excellence. More specifically, clusters will train in depth how to improve cluster governance and management, cluster entrepreneurship, shared value ecosystems between the cluster members and between the clusters themselves and communication and branding. Thanks to SAVE SMART FOOD project, clusters will analyze - in a comparative and cross-sectorial perspective - the needs of SME and stakeholders including end-consumers, not only to offer excellence and quality services to their SME’s members but also to reshape their cluster’ strategies to address the challenges that food and packaging sector is facing in Europe. This analysis will be concreted in the development of a common strategy for the next 5 years to work together to contribute to the creation of this favorable ecosystem for the growth and competitiveness of the sector. The SAFE SMART FOOD project focuses on seven challenges that will be addressed along the different project activities:

  • Last Mile
  • Food Tech
  • Smart Food
  • Food Safety
  • Sustainability
  • Smart Packaging
  • End user

The project aims to strengthen the collaboration between clusters and improve their management capacity to create the conditions of a favourable ecosystem in the food and packaging sector to boost innovation, competitiveness and internationalization of SMEs and to offer to the cluster’s SMEs an integrated program of services based on excellence.

Results expected

  • Improve and strengthen clusters management capacities and skills towards cluster excellence defining an integrated training and learning program facilitating the upgrade of their Cluster Excellence Level.
  • Define and implement a program of services based on excellence to the cluster’s members with the aim to improve competitiveness, innovation and internationalization of SMEs, giving answer to the needs of SMEs.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive individually cluster strategy with the aim to work through the excellence, strengthening cluster capacity and supporting the growth and competitiveness of their members
  • Develop and implement a common strategy and define a roadmap to facilitate the collaboration of the consortium for a long term. The common strategy will facilitate the collaboration of the consortium to operate together at European level at both commercial and non-commercial level (investment, permanent improvement, best practices, etc.).
  • Strengthen networking among the consortium and their members through the organisation and participation in B2B, C2C, and matchmaking and networking events.
  • Include a multi-stakeholder’s perspective and multi-sectorial approach to address the main sector’ challenges involving main stakeholders and end-consumers among and beyond the consortium, involving them in the definition of the cluster strategy and collaboration and networking events.
  • Contribute to rise-awareness on the clusters activities and COSME Excellence program disseminating the project results and objectives achieved.
  • Promote the exchanges of best practices, know-how and lessons learned to replicate and capitalize the project activities.
  • Support interregional cooperation among clusters and SMEs based on smart specialisation priorities linked to the food and packaging sector defined by regional and national government to achieve a more competitive and sustainable food system.

Sectorial and industrial focus

Sectoral industries
Manufacturing:C10 Manufacture of food products - Manufacturing:C17 Manufacture of paper and paper products - Accommodation and food service activities:I56 Food and beverage service activities
Cross-sectoral industries
Advanced Packaging
Industrial Alliances and Ecosystems
Alliances:Circular Plastics - Ecosystems:Agri-food
Technology fields
A\: Human necessities:Foods or foodstuffs; their treatment, not covered by other classes B\: Performing operations; transporting:Working of plastics; working of substances in a plastic state in general B\: Performing operations; transporting:Conveying; packing; storing; handling thin or filamentary material
S3 EU priority areas
Public health & security:Food security & safety Sustainable innovation:Eco-innovations Sustainable innovation:Sustainable agriculture
Areas of specialisation not covered above

The purpose of SAFE SMART FOOD is to reorient the growth of the European food sector towards the development of higher added value products, contributing to implement the European legislation and measures and creating the conditions of a favourable ecosystem in the food and packaging sector to boost innovation, competitiveness and internationalization of SMEs focusing mainly on the following challenges:

  • Food Tech
  • Smart Food
  • Food Safety
  • Sustainability
  • Smart Packaging
  • End User
  • Last Mile

Membership in Cluster Partnerships or initiatives

Profile name Location Project coordinator
Packaging Cluster


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