EUROPEAN  SECRETARIAT FOR CLUSTER ANALYSIS - ESCA is actively involved in European Cluster Excellence Initiative, within which they were mandated by the European Commission to support clusters and stakeholders involved in cluster policies by developing and implementing 2 labelling systems:


1. Cluster Management Excellence Label BRONZE – Striving for cluster excellence;


2. Cluster Management Excellence Label Gold.


The ESCA experts developed 3 projects:


1. Insights from Cluster Programme Benchmarking, developed in partnership with the Danish Ministry for Science, Innovation and High Education

Though this project (October 2010-september 2012) was elaborated the biggest exercise of benchmarking in which were involved 34 cluster programmes and 261 cluster management organization across Europe. The project was focused mainly on characteristics of cluster management organizations and their effects on cluster development. Benchmarking of cluster programmes contributed to a better understanding of success strategies to support cluster development and it also facilitated mutual learning and experience exchange between policy-makers and management authorities of programmes from 24 European countries. The result of the project is the report „Clusters are individuals”.


2. The perfect Cluster Programme

In 2011 a group of policy-makers, management authorities and programme owners from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden carried out a reflection meeting on experience in implementing programme clusters. The group came up with the idea of a „cluster league”, based on the premises that there are different types of clusters, which needs different forms of support for development: new established clusters, immature clusters and world class clusters. Based on this typology, the dedicated policies can be adapted to their needs. The result of this exercise which was supported by the Danish Ministry for Science, Innovation and High Education is the document „Let’s make a perfect cluster Policy and Cluster Programme – Smart Recommendation for policy makers”.


3. Stress-test

With the support of Danish Ministry for Science, Innovation and High Education it was developed a stress-test tool for cluster programmes. This stress-test has capitalised the results achieved in the project „The Perfect Cluster Programme” and it is designated to assist cluster programme owners and cluster policy-makers in assessments. The tests analysis the following dimensions: type of supported clusters, approach on programme management, support for promotion of cluster internationalisation, use of labelling schemes, integration of cluster programmes in the global context of policies, programme implementation, monitoring, evaluation and impact of the programme.