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Cross Programme Clusters

Background Information

1 - What are clusters?

In the IST Programme 2001 (WP 2001) clusters are defined as follows (see /ist/workprogramme.htm ):

  • The objective of clusters is "to facilitate the synergy between projects (either RTD or take-up) that have agreed to undertake part(s) of their work in close co-operation with one another." This means that projects may decide to co-ordinate their activities in an on-going way, based on common objectives, because they see an added value and want to achieve tangible results.
  • Clusters can address Action Lines, Key-Actions, Cross-Programme themes or other areas within the IST programme.
  • Clustering is done on voluntary basis; it is up to (the participants of) projects to decide if they want to take part in a cluster or not.

2 - Why clustering?

  • Clusters may enrich the capabilities of the group of projects because of complementary know-how and skills (e.g. between suppliers and users) and may help to improve return of investment in the projects. Co-operation is an increasing prerequisite for capturing a global market.
  • Clusters may help to achieve critical mass (e.g. in technology, standardisation, and regulatory issues). Clustering may be a way for projects to create enough impact to influence European political and regulatory bodies and/or international platforms.

3 - What can clusters do?

Cluster activities may include (non-exhaustive list):

  • Workshops;
  • Studies (technology, market, regulatory, ethical and business issues);
  • Development of roadmaps;
  • Benchmarking;
  • Creation of a Website (e.g. contact person, objectives, projects involved, results, background information) and a newsletter;
  • Dissemination activities like running joint demonstrations, participating in exhibitions;
  • Training-activities (covering for example legal/regulatory or technical issues);
  • Guidelines;
  • Participation in standardisation forum.

4 - Who can participate?

Any participant who adds value to the cluster activities can join the cluster e.g.:

  • Participants of the projects involved in the cluster.
  • Relevant organisations and interest groups outside those projects.
  • Relevant projects of other Framework Programmes (e.g. transport in Growth).

5 - How can clusters be formed?

You may take the initiative:

  • By bringing together a group of projects who see an added value in co-ordinating some activities and achieving tangible results and submitting a proposal for a cluster under Action Line VIII.1.1 (see section 7).
  • It is up to you to decide the size (amount of participants) of the cluster; the size has to fit the purpose of the cluster.

You may join an initiative or an existing cluster

6 - How can the IST-programme help you?

The IST-programme can help you by:

  • Giving information on clustering on CORDIS
  • On CORDIS ( ) you also find an overview of the fact sheets of the projects which are funded by the IST-programme. These fact sheets can be browsed (e.g. by using keywords).
  • Offering the possibility to discuss clustering with other projects. Many areas/Key Actions/Cross Programme Activities organise meetings twice/three times a year on which projects are invited to come and share knowledge and experience (often called concertation meetings). These meetings can be used to discuss with other projects the possibilities of forming a cluster.
  • Providing funding for cluster projects (see next paragraph)

7 - How can clusters be funded?

The Commission strongly encourages co-operation between projects and more generally activities aimed at creating synergy. When such activities require funding that goes beyond what can be covered by existing project contracts, participants can submit proposals to cover the extra work done for clustering.

Cluster projects can be supported under Action Line VIII.1.1 of Workprogramme 2001. For a full overview on submitting a proposal and preparing a contract please consult the following pages on CORDIS: /ist/particip.htm and /ist/cont-prep.htm . Here you are just reminded of some points:

You can choose between two types of contract (modalities): Thematic networks and Accompanying measures. For most clusters the thematic network contract will be adequate. Only if you want to include training activities or studies in the cluster you will have to use the accompanying measures contract, because training activities and studies can not be done under the thematic network contract.

Thematic network

  • The proposers should insert "cluster" in the key word section of Part A of the proposal.
  • The contract is signed between the Commission and the co-ordinator(s) of the thematic network. The other participants of the projects involved may be listed as members on the contract and the work carried out will be based on the membership agreement between the participants (= co-ordinator and members).
  • It's possible to add participants from new projects to the thematic network. This is normally done with no additional financial support from the Commission.

Accompanying measures

The contract is signed between the Commission and all the participants involved.

8 - Concluding remarks

  • A cluster, which is supported by a thematic network contract or an accompanying measures contract can not undertake RTD work. When you want to undertake extra RTD work with (a part of) the participants in the cluster a new RTD proposal has to be submitted or the description of the Work Packages in the existing contract has to be adjusted.
  • The principal contractor (= the co-ordinator(s)) can be either one (or more) of the participants in the projects involved, or an external organisation.
  • Action Line VIII.1.1 falls under the continuous submission scheme. The proposals are evaluated in batches every three months (or earlier when a substantial amount comes in). This means that a proposer has on average to reckon with a period of 5-6 months between submitting the proposal and the starting date of the contract.

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Last updated: 04 | 02 | 2004

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