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Call: Cluster Excellence Programme: Promoting Cluster Management Excellence Across the EU

Acronym COSME
Type of Fund Action programme
Description of programme

COSME is the EU programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) running from 2014 to 2020 with a planned budget of 2.3 bn. €.

Accessing finance

COSME aims to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access finance in all phases of their lifecycle – creation, expansion, or business transfer. Thanks to EU support, businesses have easier access to guarantees, loans and equity capital. EU ‘financial instruments’ are channelled through local financial institutions in EU countries. To find a financial institution in your country, visit the Access to Finance portal.

Opening markets

COSME helps businesses to access markets in the EU and beyond. It funds the Enterprise Europe Network that helps SMEs find business and technology partners, and understand EU legislation; the Your Europe Business portal that provides practical information on doing business within Europe; and the SME Internationalisation Portal for companies who want to develop their activities outside Europe. It also finances a number of IPR (intellectual property rights) SME Helpdesks.

Supporting entrepreneurs

COSME supports entrepreneurs by strengthening entrepreneurship education, mentoring, guidance and other support services. Actions support specific groups who may find it difficult to reach their full potential, such as young people, women and senior entrepreneurs. The programme also aims to help businesses access opportunities offered by digital technologies.

Improving business conditions

COSME aims to reduce the administrative and regulatory burden on SMEs by creating a business-friendly environment. COSME also supports businesses to be competitive by encouraging them to adopt new business models and innovative practices. This complements actions in areas with high growth potential such as the tourism sector.  

Link Link to Programme
Cluster Excellence Programme: Promoting Cluster Management Excellence Across the EU
Description of call
"Cluster Excellence Programme: Promoting Cluster Management Excellence Across the EU"

With a view to prioritising bigger actions which benefit concretely SMEs and imply a simpler implementation by the Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME), it is decided to merge the 2015 and 2016 budget allocated to cluster excellence.

The envisaged actions will build on the results achieved by the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI) launched in 2009, namely the design and validation of a benchmarking tool to be used by cluster organisations to improve their management practices. The ECEI also contributed to develop training material using case studies and concrete examples of good practices to the benefit of cluster managers.   

Building on the above, the action will therefore implement benchmarking and learning activities addressed to consortia of cluster organisations and business networks in COSME participating countries willing to engage into strategic collaboration on a joint industrial project with specific challenges, in order to help them:

  • improve their management practices and market, competitive advantages and value-chain analysis capacities;
  • provide top quality services to their SMEs, especially on partnering, creativity integration,  internationalisation, exploitation of key enabling technologies (KETs), IPRs protection and resource-efficiency.

These activities will focus on the implementation of benchmarking and learning activities that will contribute to meeting these challenges.

Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Education, Finances, Industry, SME, Technologies, Tourism, Administration
Funding area EU Member States
EFTA countries
EEA Countries
Candidate Countries
Eastern Partnership
Potential Candidate Countries
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Albania / Shqipëria
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia / поранешна југословенска Република Македонија
Iceland / Ísland
Montenegro / Crna Gora/Црна Гора
Serbia / Сpбија
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Eligible applicants Education and Training Centres, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, Research Institution, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), NGO / NPO, National Government, Start Up Company, University, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Association, Public Services, Other
Applicant details

Applicants must be legal entities established in a EU Member State or in a COSME Participating Country.

Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details

Applicants must set up a consortium with a designated coordinator. An eligible consortium must fulfil all of the following criteria:


  • It must be composed of innovation cluster organisations or business network organisations, all of them providing or channelling cluster and network support services, in compliance with the definition of innovation clusters given in the "Framework for State aid for research and development and innovation".
  • It must be composed of applicants established in minimum three different EU Member States or COSME Participating Countries, among which at least one EU Member State.
  • It must include at least two applicants that are established in regions of the EU classified as less developed or in transition.
  • It must include at least two applicants that have either no Cluster Excellence label or only Cluster Excellence bronze labels.
Recurring Call Yes
Project duration max 24 months
Financial details

The maximum EU contribution to be granted to each project will be 214,000 €. The EU grant is limited to a maximum co-funding rate of 75% of eligible costs.

EASME expects to fund 7 (seven) projects.


Applicants are requested to log in at and follow the procedure for submitting an application.

Contact Details

The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) manages COSME on behalf of the European Commission.

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