EXXTRA (“EXcellence EXchange and Teaming-up between RAilway clusters and ecosystems”) is one of the first « ESCP-4X » funded under the programme COSME of the European Union. Its aim is to accompany the professionalisation of clusters’ competences and services towards the creation and consolidation of world-class clusters in the field of the Railway Technologies.
The EXXTRA Partners are innovation-driven Clusters in the field of Rail Supply Industry (RSI), a sector where EU accounts for nearly half of the world market and has a market share of more than 80% in Europe. To preserve its leadership and remain able to compete successfully against foreign suppliers, the European RSI has to keep on staying at the forefront of RDI, has to face industrial transformation, digitalization, skills shortage, and uneven level playing field when it comes to internationalization in third countries. The cruciality for EU to support the RSI – where SMEs account for >90%, and for this Clusters are increasingly crucial players – is also emphasized by the European Parliament, that in its Resolution of 9th June 2016 underlines “the specific nature and strategic relevance of the European rail supply industry for a European industrial renaissance”.
Fully aware of their mission and challenges, the Partners have developed the “EXXTRA Vision” about what Cluster organizations have to be to provide answer to all above, and this project aims to realise such Vision with a full set of activities including – among others – a pilot mobility scheme on the model of ‘Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs’ called “ClusterXchange”. The « EXXTRA ClusterXchange » will allow 52 Visiting Organisations thoughout Europe (Cluster Managers, SMEs, scaling-up organisations) to benefit from a mobility period (from 5 to 30 days) in another COSME country to develop a specific plan of activities in order either to improve competences or to develop new products/services, and to receive a financial help for this.
The EXXTRA partners are: DITECFER (Italy – Coordinator), CENSEC (Denmark), BTS Rail Saxony (Germany), i-Trans (France), MAFEX (Spain), RailGrup (Spain), ARUS (Turkey).
The Partners represent >840 members, of which >500 SMEs and 130 among Universities/Research centres and other ecosystems actors. They have strong roots in their territories – where they operate as Institutional enterprises – and linkages with all stakeholders and public authorities.
The COSME programme addresses four main objectives:
- Ease access to finance for SMEs by providing loan guarantees and risk capital (access to finance)
- Help companies access new markets, within and outside the EU (access to markets)
- Create a business-friendly environment by reducing the administrative burden on SMEs (improving conditions for businesses)
- Encourage an entrepreneurial culture (encouraging entrepreneurship)
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