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Project summary
The setting up of a common European research and innovation space must be based on two main elements: the definition of successful policies and programmes by the decision makers towards the definition of international interventions supporting the cluster development and the innovation inside the clusters, both at level of single SMEs and at overall level as clusters. The parallel step must be to implement tools and provide management system to apply the policies and to identify how to introduce innovation in the clusters system. The main project aim is then finding the key-elements that could improve a cluster becoming a world-class cluster, and to improve the involved clusters with specific actions.

In order to perform the above mentioned steps, ensure sustainability to the initiative C-PLUS and strive for reaching "world-class" performances, project starts with a deep mapping of the peculiarities of several Central European clusters. Mapping methodologies are based on a EU high

The mapping will allow a second step of benchmarking aiming at looking the peculiarities of the various local production systems as well as the composition of the clusters and their linkages with different stakeholders at local and international level. Benchmarking will be implemented through methodological analyses that are able to highlight their competitiveness factors, to make comparisons among these and to let the good practices to be transferred come to light. The outputs will be reports settled up in a web platform and allowing the innovation leaders to be visible. The joint analysis between SMEs and Clusters involves:
- SMEs, through benchmarking tools aimed at understanding what the effective business practices and performances are;
- territory, facilitating social participation in the clusters trough workshops aimed at investigating territorial system’s features, network relationships, local development policies.

Starting from the assumption that it is possible to act on the competitive capability of clusters by employing and formalizing the knowledge system existing in the local system and among the local systems, the analysis leads to identify important evidences concerning:1 the level of protection of key processes by local production systems -cores- which are more closely related to industrial activities, to those concerning strategy, management of human resources, management of relationships within the region, methods of interactions between customer supplier, management of knowledge and distinctive competences; 2-the level of a cluster professional management, 3- existence on the territory of service centres that are able to take the role of knowledge catalysts and manifestation of the necessity to create them where they lack.

The following action is aiming at improving the awareness of the whole territory of its role and its challenges through EASW (European Scenario Workshop Methodology for Participatory Planning and Increased Awareness) ensuring a bottom-up approach and the involvement of all the subjects of the territory, both from the side of the clusters and the decision makers. The objectives of the action will be set up a Cluster Management Lab focused on the linkages within the clusters and with different kind of actors. A set of interrelate workshops – based also on mapping and benchmarking conclusions – will lead the actors to exchange opinions, ideas and perspective, until the identification of measures and objectives composing the Action Plan. The discussion will be implemented also at international level, as to reach an Transnational Action Plan, main C-PLUS core output. The last phase is focused on the TAP implementation with the support of Cluster Managers in each country and make pilots and project evaluation.
 
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