Business clusters have become a key piece in channeling European funds and helping SMEs improve their competitiveness.
Between 2016 and 2019, Europe has mobilized around 130 million euros through clusters to launch projects that would help improve the innovative capabilities of SMEs. According to a report recently published by the European Commission, Spain has led, by far, both the number of applications submitted and the number of participating clusters and SMEs benefiting from these aids. Specifically, Spanish clusters have received around 18% of all applications submitted in the five calls of the program "Cluster facilitated projects for new value chains" (INNOSUP-1) of the European Commission and more than 170 Spanish SMEs have obtained financing, being the greater number of companies benefited by country.
In total, the European Commission has launched, between 2016 and 2019, 18 projects through which 1,006 SMEs were supported.
This call was born with the aim of providing support to SMEs in their innovation processes and channeling this support through intermediaries, mainly clusters. It is a cascading financing model based on collaboration to improve the capabilities of SMEs to create new industrial value chains that promote the development of emerging industries in Europe. Clusters are responsible for presenting and managing projects and at least 75% of the total budget must be allocated to SMEs through direct funding, direct innovation support services or other measures. The long-term goal is to boost cross-sectoral collaboration and strengthen the European Union's industrial leadership by fostering the development of emerging industries.
According to the European Commission, the budget mobilized through the clusters was used efficiently and highlights their performance as key intermediaries to expand the scope of this type of aid. In addition, it stands out in Spain as one of the countries with the highest rate of satisfaction of participating SMEs, followed by France, Italy and Germany.