The CE4BIG project: A European project federating four major clusters in the healthcare sector

1 July 2020

The French Atlanpole Biotherapies in Nantes is federating four major healthcare clusters aimed at fostering business growth in SMEs specialising in personalized medicine.

Since early 2020, Atlanpole Biotherapies has been coordinating a major cluster collaboration project,  CE4BIG (“cluster excellence for business, innovation and growth”) under the umbrella of the “European Cluster Excellence” initiative, itself part of the European Union’s multi-annual COSME (SME Competitiveness) programme. The aim is to promote cluster collaboration on a Europe-wide scale.

“The “European Cluster Excellence” vision for the future is having clusters provide their member companies with stronger support, by proposing a comprehensive, high-quality service offer. CE4BIG’s ambition is to give shape to this vision and apply it to the healthcare sector, explains Benoît-Jules Youbicier-Simo, head of collaborative projects at Atlanpole Biotherapies and originator of the project. This means cultivating the inter-regional transfer of skills and know-how. “

Focus on biotherapies

In its drive to respond to the call for projects launched in 2019, the Grand Ouest cluster needed to attract European partners.

“Atlanpole Biotherapies was already a key player at the Council of Europe BioRegions (CEBR). This is where we found our first two partners, BioWin in Belgium, and BioM in Germany – both specialising in personalized medicine, a fairly rare occurrence in European healthcare clusters“, explains Roza Puzio, CE4BIG coordinator.

 “Rather than focusing solely on boosting SME expansion into new, foreign markets, the project aims to promote every aspect of business growth and raise the innovation capacity of SMEs, thereby driving progress in personalized medicine”, declares Stephanie Wehnelt, head of international affairs at BioM.

A relationship built on trust

The CE4BIG project will articulate around four action fronts: audit of each individual cluster by an independent body; staff training programmes aimed at providing SMEs with a more professional cluster service offer, cross-cluster exchange to encourage member SMEs to collaborate with other possible partners, and the sharing of good practices between sector professionals

“The aim is to provide SMEs with the same level of support wherever they are based in Europe”, stresses Roza Puzio. “It is also important to help SMEs seeking to establish businesses abroad to find partners, both within and outside the cluster”, adds Benoît-Jules Youbicier- Simo, who considers that this will also require the creation of a cluster-wide skills catalogue covering laboratories and CRO. Objective: provide each actor with the means to identify possible partners at other clusters.

CE4BIG is seeking to build relationships of trust between consortium partners on a long-term basis, explains Stephanie Wehnelt. We consider it vital to optimise and tailor our business support mechanisms on an ongoing basis to ensure they are permanently aligned with the demands specific to SMEs and capable of meeting the challenges facing companies in the healthcare sector … particularly during the current Covid-19 health emergency. “