Clustering research and technology around plastic processing A research and technology-driven (RTD) cluster for the plastics sector and processing industries has been created in Spain's Valencia region. Clusters can help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to innovate and become more competitive. Industrial Technologies © Thinkstock The plastic processing industry in Valencia supplies a large number of industrial sectors covering products like toys, footwear and textiles. All these industries face similar challenges, such as fierce competition, requiring them to develop new and innovative products and processes. Unlike the plastic production industry, plastic processing requires little initial capital, is labour intensive and it is not tied to a particular location. The 'RTD-based cluster initiative to target future challenges of the Valencia plastic processing industry' (PLASTIVAL) project, funded by the EU, set out to unite the main regional actors to develop specific joint actions. In the first phase of PLASTIVAL, information about the plastics sector was gathered, then technical reports were issued and, finally, a RTD roadmap for future actions was drawn up. With the roadmap as the starting point for the cluster, the project's second phase focused on the dissemination and promotion of the cluster structure. To complete the cluster set-up process, the project team studied the best practices gathered from experienced European plastics clusters. The researchers learnt how to create an RTD plastics cluster and manage it on a daily basis. The PLASTIVAL cluster for the plastic processing industry is now firmly established in Valencia. The project website will be managed by the new cluster and will continue as a tool to promote relevant activities, news, information and services available for the Valencian plastics industry.