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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Emerging industries and value chains

Clusters offer a favourable eco-system, which encourages competition and cooperation among firms with different industrial backgrounds, technological and business expertise. This, in turn, helps to reconfigure industrial value chains, leading to the development of emerging industries.

SMEs need support in gaining and using knowledge, creativity, craftsmanship and innovation. With assistance, they can bring their cross-cutting technologies, service innovation and eco-innovative solutions to new industrial value chains. A systemic approach, strategic focus, and making better use of clusters to reach out to groups of SMEs are crucial for achieving this.

One can define an industrial value chain as value creation stages that enterprises and other organisations go through when designing and delivering goods and services for their users. They are increasingly reconfigured because of cross-border and cross-sectoral collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurship between different industries. These interactions and linkages between value chains and industries may lead to the development of emerging industries.

Emerging industries come into existence with the creation of a new industrial value chain, or the radical reconfiguration of an existing one, driven by a disruptive idea or ideas, leading to new products/services with higher added value. They often have high growth rates and further market potential, making them essential to future competitiveness and prosperity. Emerging industries can also benefit from the particular collaborative opportunities clustering provides.

The 'cluster facilitated projects for new industrial value chains' below exemplifies EU cluster initiatives addressing new industrial value chains.

Funding in practice: 'Cluster facilitated projects for new industrial value chains'

INNOSUP-1's 'Cluster facilitated projects for new industrial value chains' is an EU-level project funded under Horizon2020 programme with a budget of €130 million (2015-2020). This EU cluster initiative supports cross-regional and cross-sectoral innovation in SMEs. Small, innovative, companies create the majority of new jobs in the European economy. INNOSUP-1 helps SMEs to innovate and develop cross-sectoral value chains by bringing different sectors and areas of expertise together to create new value chains across the EU and Horizon 2020 associated countries.

SMEs work together and with other actors (e.g. research and technology organisations, hospitals, large companies) to develop cross-cutting approaches and emerging technologies, resulting in new or improved products and services. New industrial value chains require actors across different sectors to collaborate and integrate, which is in line with smart specialisation priorities. These projects highlight the importance of smart specialisation strategies, which can also lead to complementary support and funding that is favourable to the new industrial value chain's environment. Ideally, related sectors and partners should be in line with the regional public authorities' priority framework and smart specialisation profile. This will lead to complementary support and ESIF investments.

Consortia of expert organisations manage INNOSUP-1 projects. They consist of partners from at least 3 Horizon 2020 countries. Experts in the field, including cluster organisations and SMEs, join together as partners to manage an INNOSUP-1 project. One consortium partner acts as the coordinator.

To receive INNOSUP-1 funds, projects must allocate at least 75% of their total budgets to direct support for SMEs. This can include payments to SMEs, vouchers (up to €60,000) and services.

Tools to support innovation in SMEs

To channel innovation support to SMEs, most INNOSUP-1 projects use innovation vouchers, lump sums or prizes. In some cases, project partners provide various innovation services directly to SMEs themselves (e.g. mentoring, coaching, training, knowledge transfer and technological integration support, IP and innovation management support). Many projects launch calls for expression of interests to reach out to SMEs. Other tools include

  • idea competitions and hackathons
  • innovation clubs and virtual rooms
  • online video pitching
  • investor evaluations and peer-to-peer evaluation by entrepreneurs
  • crowd¬funding and regional accelerators
  • business factories and boot camps

Completed and ongoing INNOSUP-1 projects

So far, 18 INNOSUP-1 cluster projects for new industrial value chains were launched following 4 annual calls (2 stages) since 2015.

Up to May 2019, 13 INNOSUP-1 projects have been in contact with at least 3,200 SMEs. Over 1,600 SMEs received innovation support. They gathered 140 participants from 21 countries, supported with over €60 million of funding from Horizon2020. On average, a successful project receives about €4.6 million of EU funding and involves between 7 and 20 partners from between 3 and 9 countries.

5 new INNOSUP-1 projects launched in May 2019 aim to reach out to 1,500 SMEs and directly support over 600 SMEs.

Relevant INNOSUP-1 links

The latest call for INNOSUP-1 proposals was published in November 2019. The Deadline to apply was early April 2020.

European strategic cluster partnerships for smart specialisation investments (ESCPs-S3)

The ESCPs-S3 aim to boost industrial competitiveness and investment within the EU. The goal is to aid cluster cooperation in thematic areas related to regional smart specialisation strategies and to increase industry involvement in the smart specialisation platform for industrial modernisation.

The ESCPs-S3 help initiate joint actions and investment projects in common smart specialisation priority areas linked to industrial modernisation.

The main goals are to

  • develop a joint cluster partnership strategy
  • identify interregional collaboration and investment opportunities
  • set up common activities to mobilise interregional business to business collaboration
  • strengthen cluster cooperation and maximise synergies to provide better access to innovation support

ESCP-S3 are characterised by

  • being European (i.e. composed of at least 3 different EU countries or COSME countries) and strategic
  • clusters' representation through cluster organisations or equal other business networks
  • partnerships for long-term cooperation
  • working toward smart specialisation to support cross-sectoral and cross-regional value chain collaboration

9 projects are currently being funded. The topics include smart buildings/city, ICT & digitalisation, medical technology/health, textile, ICT & digitalisation, agro-food and packaging, aerospace, automotive. The project activities started in October 2018 and ran until October 2020.

Creating value chain links, joint business projects and investment in SMEs groups lies at the heart of the partnerships. The focus is on specific industrial areas and bringing together SMEs more and less economically advanced clusters and regions. More than 4,500 SMEs will benefit from the projects.

These partnerships will ease cluster cooperation in thematic areas related to regional smart specialisation strategies and increase industry involvement in the smart specialisation platform for industrial modernisation (SP3-Industry). This tool supports EU regions that want to generate a pipeline of industrial investment projects following a bottom-up approach - implemented through interregional cooperation, cluster participation and industry involvement.

Relevant links