The European Foundation for Cluster Excellence (Fundació Clusters i Competitivitat) was established in Catalonia in 2003 with significant support from the Government of Catalonia and support from Vinnova, the Swedish Innovation Agency, and Yorkshire Forward, the former UK Regional Development Agency. The primary aim of the Foundation was to provide objective reviews of cluster performance and to create a permanent reference platform for comparison.
Among its missions, the Foundation delivers international trainings on value chain development and cluster excellence addressed to policy makers, economic development professionals or cluster practitioners.
THE EUROPEAN CLUSTER EXCELLENCE INITIATIVE (ECEI)
In 2009 under the umbrella of ECEI the European Commission launched a number of cluster related projects and initiatives aiming at improving the quality of cluster policy within Europe and enhancing the efficiency of existing efforts in cluster management.
The Initiative brought together the most experienced people and organisations in Europe to identify and set up a meaningful set of training, quality indicators and peer-assessment procedures for cluster management.
One key ingredient was the professional trainings for excellence in cluster management, led by IESE Business School in Barcelona. The training was based on compilation of a number of standard management school case studies on the relevant topics. In addition the Initiative also developed additional case studies on the less common subjects.
A comprehensive set of teaching materials was developed. The materials and their supporting documents are self-explanatory and they are now available to be used by qualified instructors across Europe and beyond. As a result the cluster management would no longer be a craft like, experience based activity but it is enriched by a methodological approach in line with most professional disciplines.
The initiative was concluded in August 2012.
THE CURRENT POSITION
Before the end of the project, the Steering Committee of the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI) authorised its coordinator to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European Foundation for Cluster Excellence. The MoU established a formal cooperation between the two entities while the Initiative was ongoing. It entrusted the custodianship of the training material to the Foundation and once the Initiative was completed the Foundation was granted full access to and the permission to use all training materials developed under the Cluster Management Knowledge area of ECEI.
The Foundation also assumed the role of continuing some of the tasks of the ECEI, namely the development of the training materials for Cluster Management Excellence plus the organisation of an accreditation system for certifying instructors, through the delivery of train the trainers’ courses and monitoring of their performance.
In light of these developments and to reflect the specific role of the Foundation in promoting excellence in cluster management across Europe and beyond, its title was updated to European Foundation for Cluster Excellence.
The Foundation now acts as a neutral third party coordinating the delivery of courses on Cluster Excellence Management including Train-the-Trainers, the most comprehensive programme on clusters and competitiveness on the market. Its different standard training programmes typically take-up between a minimum of two weeks and up to six months. Most of them run in tandem with a field-project, which is carried-out by participants. Personalized bespoke programmes can also be set-up and delivered upon request.
The Foundation's first training programme started in December 2012.