National clusters associations from Czech Republic, Poland, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine proposed to the European Commission and to other interested stakeholders to support creation of a new program of cluster support, focused on interregional collaboration of Eastern European countries with Ukraine. The Joint Statements are to be signed on 29/03/2023 in Kosice. National associations consider projects with long term goals of faster integration of Ukrainian clusters and SMEs into European value chains and innovation space.
The new CP4U program should be focused on 5 main broad goals facing the mentioned challenges. Building a long term, effective strategy of SMEs development where clusters are a key instrument of SMEs internationalization. Support and growth of 6 UCA’s Common Resource Centers (CRC) with respect to clusters by target industries (Agri-food, EAM (Engineering-Automation-Machinery), Medical, Textile, Utilities, and Dual-Use). Growth of inter-regional cooperation with a clear focus on clusters / SMEs resilience and the future Recovery projects. Better alignment and integration of Ukrainian clusters into all major existing EU programs of clusters / SMEs development. Acceleration of Ukrainian clusters and their members in twin green and digital transition.
- Development and support of bi- and multilateral programs with a focus on Resilience and Recovery of Ukraine.
- Set-up of regular clusters exchanges in the area of best practices and improving skills in cluster management/governance.
- Alignment in policy-making and increasing cluster’s role as important policy-makers of national levels.
- Fostering Innovative ecosystems in Ukraine/increasing integration processes between all 6 countries.
- Being well familiar with EU norms and standards, 5 target cluster associations, coordinated at the level of European Clusters Alliance, will ensure much faster integration of Ukrainian clusters into EU industrial ecosystems.
- These country will have access to all Recovery programs and projects and will able to better involve their members.
- Regarding other European clusters, we can consider many aspects of better resilience, improving current programs and clarifying/profiling for all clusters future opportunities on Ukrainian markets, better connected to their neighbors.
UA side: Ukrainian Cluster Alliance, Ministry of economy, Ministry of digital transformation, Ministry of Restoration.
EU side: Czech National Cluster Association, Lithuanian Clusters Network Association, Polish National Cluster Association, Romanian National Cluster Association, Slovakian National Cluster Association.
In 2022 Ukrainian clusters proved their ability to become a key institution of resilience and development of local SMEs. However, UA clusters struggle with low capacities, lack of institutionalization at the State level and they need much more powerful support. Current support programs are weak or not really oriented to challenges and projects considered by UCA.
Being active participants of the Eastern Partnership program Ukrainian clusters did not face big impact or support of these programs during 2022. In contrast, UCA got a lot of support from partners and cluster organizations from Poland, Czech Republic, Baltic and some other countries, all supported on a regular basis by the European Commission and European Clusters Alliance. If such an approach proved its effectiveness in the most difficult year, it should work further.