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Getting ready for the future

World’s leading cluster system

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The Basque Country boasts an important network of clusters aimed at improving business competitiveness through cooperation and backed by public agencies and universities.

A pioneer in the implementation of measures for building ties between research on innovative technology and Basque industries, the Basque Country set the goal of increasing business competitiveness. Among the initiatives to achieve this goal is thecluster project considered to be a leading global model, whose excellent results are the focus of study in prestigious universities such as Harvard.

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The cluster system started off more than two decades ago in the Basque Country. It consists in the gathering of SMEs, agencies and universities sharing their interest in a given strategic sector. All partners in a Basque cluster work cooperatively, since they believe competitiveness cannot be improved nor demands for internationalisation, innovation or sustainability met working in isolation. Furthermore, clusters are location-based partnerships.

Clusters get support from a network of Strategic Sector Observatories, an idea from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Trade and Tourism of the Basque Government for identifying the knowledge needs of Basque companies, facilitating access to strategic information, offering supervision or prospective mechanisms, and empowering priority clusters as key elements in the innovation system.

At present, Basque businesses come together in more than 25 sector partnerships and 14 clusters. The latter are references of Basque social capital, particularly in Bizkaia.


Clusters

Home Appliance Sector Cluster Association of the Basque Country (ACEDE)

This cluster association gathers six leading companies in the home appliance industry, including firms specialising in home appliance components and spare parts, thus embracing the whole value chain in this industry. The cluster functions as a coordination element, a space for strategic thinking, and serves as a representative voice when members need to contact the authorities or agencies for economic development.

Auto Parts Industry Cluster Association of the Basque Country (ACICAE)

Established in 1993 with the aim of improving competitiveness in the Basque automotive industry, ACICAE was among the first clusters set up in Europe. More than 20 years have passed and the organisation has more than 100 members, having helped the Basque automotive industry to increase its turnover fourfold in the past 15 years.

Environmental Industry Cluster Association of the Basque Country (ACLIMA)

This association was established in 1995 with the goal of supplying products and services to fulfil the environmental needs of the Basque Country and, at the same time, of getting Basque industries ready for international competition. At present, it has 88 members – 73 private firms and 15 honorary organisations – covering all the aspects of the environmental offer. Also, the cluster makes contributions in other valuable areas such as R&D+i.

Advanced Manufacturing Technologies – Spanish Manufacturers of Machine-Tools Association (AFM)

In 65 years, this association has worked hard to endow the machine-tool industry with technology and manufacturing resources. Consequently, AFM has become the fourth largest manufacturing association and the third largest exporter in the EU. The cluster represents 138 machine-tool companies and manufacturers of accessories, parts and tools. It provides services in the fields of cutting-edge manufacturing technology, markets and internationalisation, technology, marketing and human resources.

Knowledge Cluster

This is the Basque organisation gathering the highest number of members, both public and private, aimed at promoting innovation in business management for adequate competition and creating wealth and progress in the Basque Country. Most cluster members belong to the academic sphere, the advanced service or consultancy sector, public promotion and development agencies, and advanced management businesses. The cluster’s success has caught international attention.

Energy Cluster Association (ACE)

It comprises the leading power companies throughout the sector’s value chain in the Basque Country, actors in Basque science and technology and public energy authorities. The association seeks to improve the competitiveness of energy companies and transform the Basque Country into a European energy leader.

Paper Cluster Association

This association fosters and implements cooperation in diverse areas between its 20 members to benefit from existing synergies and create competitive advantages for the Basque paper industry. The fields it works in are energy, training, management, human resources, internationalisation, environment and technology.

Basque Maritime Forum (FMV)

Recognised as a cluster by the Basque Government in 1999, FMV has grown into the main representative of the maritime industry in the Basque Country, and one of the leading ones across the Spanish state and beyond. It is made of businesses, associations and organisations, and its goal is to represent, defend, consolidate, promote and improve the competitiveness of Basque maritime companies. To attain this goal, FMV offers services in different strategic areas such as internationalisation, technology, management excellence, finance and taxes, training and human resources, communication, information and representation.

Information Technology Cluster Association of the Basque Country (GAIA)

Established in 1983 as a private professional association, currently GAIA has over 260 members: companies interested in fostering the development of the electronics, information and telecommunications sector and thus give a boost to the information and knowledge society.

Aeronautics and Aerospace Cluster Association of the Basque Country (HEGAN)

It was created in the early 1990s to represent and boost the aerospace industry in the Basque Country, to improve competitiveness in the short, medium and long terms through innovation and cooperation (between companies and with third parties), and to co-ordinately respond to strategic challenges. Currently, it has 36 members from the private sector.

Uniport Bilbao Comunidad Portuaria

It has 132 members from the private and the public sectors, which are directly or indirectly involved in the planning and economic development of the Port of Bilbao as well as its connections by land. Among Uniport Bilbao’s goals are improving competitiveness in the services provided by the largest quay in the Basque Country through coordinated work by all the agents involved in port traffic and suggested action for improvement.

Basque Biocluster

Created in 2010, this private professional cluster is made up of some 30 Basque companies in the biotechnology sector which have set the goal of coordinating, representing, managing, fostering and defending their common interests, in cooperation with public administration agencies and other organisations in the field of bioscience. The Basque Biocluster also wants to foster development, growth and internationalisation among members and in the Basque bioscience industry at large.

EIKEN – Basque Audio-visual Cluster

EIKEN gathers major companies based in the Basque Country that create and broadcast contents, products and services for the audio-visual sector. Its members cover the entire audio-visual value chain, from content creation to distribution and broadcasting, including the use of new technologies to apply in both traditional and digital media.

Mobility and Logistics Cluster (MLC ITS Euskadi)

The members of this cluster want to provide people with increasingly better haulage services through cooperation and innovation, and to improve competitiveness in the region. Also, they are interested in becoming a meeting point for all the agents and companies in the haulage and transport sector, boosting synergies and encouraging innovation in their search for competitiveness and sustainability.

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