The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA)

The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA) is the one-stop shop for promoting Cluster Management Excellence through benchmarking and quality labelling of cluster management organisations worldwide. The Berlin-based organisation coordinates a network of around 200 cluster experts from more than 30 countries, which offer benchmarking and labelling services on behalf of ESCA. In addition, ESCA provides hands-on advice to cluster managers on cluster development and supports cluster policy makers and programme owners with advice on cluster programme development.

The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis awards three different Quality Labels to qualified cluster management organisations.

    ESCA is an offspring of the 2009 European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI), a pan-European initiative by the European Commission with the aim to create more world-class clusters across the EU by strengthening cluster management excellence. ESCA was established in November 2010 by one of the 13 European project partners, VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH.



    ESCA_Expert_Training_Theory Ke20230320Titelfoliefuerweb.jpg

    Training Opportunity for qualifying as "ECEI Cluster Benchmarking Expert"

    The European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI), initiated by the European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry back in 2009, aims for the development of methodologies and tools in order to support dedicated organisations to improve their capabilities in the management of networks and clusters. In this context a cluster management excellence labelling process was implemented more than 10 years ago.

    The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA, was initiated and mandated by the ECEI to organise the assessment process and to award successful cluster organisations with the respective labels in  GOLD, SILVER, and BRONZE. A network of around 200 specifically trained cluster experts from more than 30 countries supports these activities.

    After a long period without organising opportunities for interested parties to become involved (due to Covid pandemic and other reasons), I am glad to announce that a training workshop now is planned, for interested parties to qualify as “ECEI Cluster Benchmarking Expert” and by this in a first step to be eligible to conduct cluster benchmarking interviews leading to the ECEI BRONZE Label in cooperation with ESCA.

    The training will take place from May 15 15.00 until May 17 13.00 in Prague/CZE. It will include a theory session, a practical exercise conducting a “real” cluster benchmarking interview, and the discussion of the “business model” of being an “ECEI Cluster Benchmarking Expert” as well as the prospects of further development and the ongoing transition process of the responsibility for the labelling scheme from ESCA to the new “European Clusters Labelling Excellence Structure” ( association.

    Helmut Kergel, ESCA Director, will conduct the overall training. Local support is organised by the Czech National Cluster Association (NCA) having already nominated two trainees and having organised the cluster organisation being benchmarked as the practical exercise. 

    ESCA now is seeking for more international interested parties to allow organising a training for an internationally well-mixed group of trainees, so that mutual learning adds additional value.

    In case of interest, please contact us asap.! More details will be available in due time.

    Cost for participating in the 2 half + 1 full day training is 750 EUR. Costs for travel/accommodation go extra.

    Helmut Kergel
    Director ESCA
    Phone: +49 (0)30 31 00 78 154

    Publication by the European Cluster Observatory: The Smart Guide to Cluster Policy

    Call for the expression of interest: Towards European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for smart specialisation investments

    NEWIN – The New England Water Innovation Network: as first US cluster organisation awarded with the Bronze Label of Cluster Management Excellence

    Annual Meeting of the Cluster Excellence Expert Group in Munich, September 15th, 2015


    New study: CLUSTER MANAGEMENT EXCELLENCE IN MEXICO - Mexican Information Technology Clusters in Comparison with European Peers

    ESCA paper presented at stakeholder workshop of DG ENTRE of the European Commission on "Moving forward the EU policy agenda on cluster excellence - Lessons learned and new challenges at policy and operational level", Brussels, September 23rd, 2014

    Cluster Monitor Germany - Trends and Prospects of Clusters in Germany

    New study: Clusters and what role they can play in promoting cross-innovation between creative and "traditional" industries

    New study: New approaches to improve the performance of cluster management organisations in Europe

    French Government published benchmarking report of ESCA that was prepared in the context of the evaluation of the French cluster programme "Pôles de compétitivité"

    In the context of the evaluation of the French cluster programme "Pôles de compétitivité" ESCA benchmarked 71 cluster organisation that are supported under the scheme. For further information please see the website of the programme. The report can be downloaded here.

    For further information about our work please see our publications


    ESCA is hosted by IT-Logo.

    The Future of Cluster Management Excellence Labelling

    Ten years after the Eur
    opean Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI), the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA) is proud to lift the cluster labelling approach to the next level: Starting October 1, 2021, the European Clusters Excellence Labeling Structure (EUCLES), a European non-profit association comprising cluster development programmes from several EU Member States, has officially taken over the responsibility of the labelling scheme.

    Ensuring continuity of the well-established ECEI system, VDI/VDE-IT, which has been operating ESCA for the past 10 years, will continue the operative activities of the scheme (i.e. organising the assessments and coordinating the Pan-European expert network, preparing label award decisions, managing the individual contractual agreements, etc.). After having successfully facilitated and/or conducted more than 2,000 labelling activities and promoting the ECEI approach in more than 45 countries worldwide, VDI/VDE-IT is now looking forward to this new partnership at eye level with the recently established European association.

    After officially signing the EUCLES-VDI/VDE-IT partnership agreement in Brussels on September 30, 2021, both partners are now working out the operational details and new procedures. Until further notice, the established procedures as described on the ESCA website remain valid. Current cost structures for obtaining an ECEI GOLD, SILVER or BRONZE label will remain unchanged.