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Info and documentation about the ongoing work of the GECES Working group on social economy clusters and other forms of collaboration

In a first year, this work focussed on clusters solely by investigating to what extend social enterprises are engaged in traditional clusters or form their own ‘social economy clusters’ and which characteristics could be identified in such operations.

therefore the work started from the 'Traditional Industrial Cluster' concept: "Clusters are groups of specialised enterprises, often SME's, and other related supporting actors in a location that cooperate closely Together, SME's can be more innovative, create more jobs, and register more international trademarks and patents than alone"

The working group developed on the basis of their activities the concept Clusters of social and ecological innovation.

Clusters of Social and Ecological Innovation (CSEI) group social economy enterprises, mainstream enterprises, civil society organisations, local authorities and education and research institutions that cooperate in a particular location to improve local economic, ecological and societal prosperity. The cluster offers a jointly managed legal entity or structure carrying supporting projects and services for the members. Fields of activity are very diverse, and in most cases cross-sectoral.

Most known activities of CSEI  focus on ecology, circularity, employment and job inclusion, local food and sustainable agriculture, incubation and social entrepreneurial support, education activities etc. The role of social economy enterprises is key in such clusters as they are usually initiators and wish to complement their individual economic activities with joint projects: mainly setting up joint services, pooling of resources and building a joint innovation capacity. The latter is usually driven by social innovation, potentially resulting in digital, technological, process, product and service innovations. Some cluster experiment specifically on more environmental or green innovations, mostly targeting circularity, biodiversity and clean energy provision. 

Often, CSEI grow out of grass-rooted experimental projects and become instrumental to regenerate economic activity, create new enterprises and jobs and revitalize socially and economically stricken areas. Other CSEI are initiated by local authorities, have similar objectives and are supposed to be driven by a strong public-private partnership.  For both, many CSEI should not be strictly seen as social economy populated structures, as they might include many ‘mainstream enterprises’ that subscribe themselves into the cluster’s ambition.

The model of a CSEI can be seen as a European concept inspired by the French ‘Pôles territoriaux de coopération économique (PTCE)[1] and a set of similar clusters collected during an explorative mapping by a dedicated GECES working group. The findings of this working group are published in a report expected for the summer of 2021. This report explored how CSEI arise, their purpose, structures, member services and financial means. This working group has also facilitated the access of CSEI to the new European Cluster Collaboration Platform, which will allow CSEI to enjoy access to cluster support measures and the wider EU cluster network. 

We welcome Social economy clusters to register their initiative in this platform and become a member of the European cluster community!

[1] In 2020 France counts 56 functioning PTCE, which is not considering those in a first stages of development.

If you are interested in CSEI or you want to flag our attention to your CSEI, please contact GROW-SOCIAL-ENTERPRISE:

Output of the GECES working group

Here you will find as of August 2021 the report of the GECES Working Group on Clusters of Social and Ecological Innovation.

This report aims at exploring Clusters of social and ecological innovation (CSEI) contributions to foster innovation in the European Union, in light of the socio-ecological transition. Social economy enterprises aim at improving local communities and society in general.

Next to the report, you will also find an overview of cases that were collected across Europe and a set of thematic analyses contributed by experts in the working group.

The report is still under construction. A first draft will be shared will be shared with GECES members. A final version with thematic approaches will be finished by July 2021.

CSEI @EUSES Mannheim

The working group will organise a dedicated workshop during the European Social Economy Summit in Mannheim. The workshop will be on day 2 (27/5 from 11/30-13:00).


The cluster model is characterised by a consistent set of common interests, values and principles and different forms of cooperation among its members to pursue them. Therefore, it can be a valuable model to social economy enterprises that search for new strategies and development perspectives, especially having as a background the socio-ecological transition locally.

Session overview

CSEI cases:

- Gerd De Wilde, Circularium - Brussels, Belgium

- Giovanni Ginocchini, Director Fondazione Innovazione Urbana Bologna - Italy

- Klastr sociálních inovací a podniků (Social Innovation and Enterprise Cluster: SINEC) - Czech Republic

- Hugues Sibille, Labo de l'ESS – Le modèle des PTCE & Rapporteur GECES Working group 'Clusters of Social & Ecological Innovation' - France

Panel discussion

Chair: Miss Vereadora Ana Umbelino, Rapporteur GECES Working group 'Clusters of Social & Ecological Innovation'

- Antonio Novo - European Cluster Alliance Antonio Novo, Spain.

- Peter Czaga - Policy officer DG GROW Cluster Policy, European Commission

- Katarzyna Rull Quesada, President of the UNIMOS Foundation (institutional coordinator of AgroBioCluster), researcher at the Warsaw School of Economics – Poland.


CSEI examples

ClusterCountryECCP registeredWebsite link

The 56 "Pôles territoriaux de coopération économique" (PTCE)

Several listed below


Coursive Boutaric (Quartier des Grésilles, Dijon) - PTCE


Domb'Innov (territoire Dombes-Saône-Côtière de l’Ain) - PTCE


Lille Métro Pôle Solidaire (Métropole Européenne de Lille, Région Nord-Pas de Calais) - PTCE


InnoVales (Saint-Pierre-en-Faucigny, Vallée de l’Arve, Grand GenèveFrançais) - PTCE


Le Périscope (Ramonville,Communauté d'agglomération duSicoval) - PTCE


PôleSudAquitain (Sud des Landes/Pays Basques, Canton de Seignanx, Landes) - PTCE


Base 202


DFBA Community Enterprises CLG


Impact City - The Hague

The Netherlands


Denmark /

Vierwerk / 4Werk


The Partnership for social innovation in Örebro County


Le Cluster ESS Grande Région


Elephant path


Pfefferwerk Foundation& Pfefferberg


Grupo Empresarial de Cooperativas de Enseñanza en la Región de Murcia


The Rediscovery Centre - The Irish National Centre for the Circular Economy


Lapland - Arctic Social Economy Cluster



Lithuanian Social Innovation Cluster (LSIC)


Atelier El Costurerico (Proyecto Abraham IKEAMurcia)


Rummelig imidt / Labour inclusion in the Region


Figeacteurs - PTCE


Silicon VilstalGermanyYES

VONNE - Social Innovation ClusterUK



Comptoir des ressources creatives


Clusters Eco-construction or 'Grappes d’entreprises' Wallonie: Mons, Huy et Luxembourg


Coopolis, Ateneu (athenaeum) Cooperatiu de Barcelona


Asociacion proyecto Lazaro


Gebiedscoöperatie Westerkwartier


ANE (Navarra Social Economy Cluster)

Spain (2)

CEDRA (national cluster organisation)Croatia

CEDRA Association for Creative Development Osijek WaterfallCroatia

DESA: Regional Center for Community Building and Civil Society Development DubrovnikCroatia

CTK Rijeka: Centar tehničke kulture RijekaCroatia

Cluster for Eco-Social Innovation and Development CEDRA Split


GOEL - Cooperative Group


Andalusian Association of Social Economy Education Centres




ecoBI - Italy






Smart and Sustainable Arctic Tourism ClusterFinlandYES

Arctic Smartness Rural CommunityFinlandYES

Initiatives et cité


Navarre Social Innovation Unit


Torino Social ImpactItalyYES

Teple Misto


Impact Noord

The NetherlandsYES


WAAG SocietyThe Netherlands

Fondazione Innovazione UrbanaItaly

Fondzazione Comunità de MessinaItaly

Klastr sociálních inovací a podniků ( Social INnovation and Enterprise Cluster: SINEC)

Czech Republic

Darwin Camp BordeauxFrance


The Szczecinek District NGO ClusterPoland

CASPEV -The Custer of social entrepreneurship in VojvodinaSerbia

Cieszyn Social Cluster (activity unknown)


Lower Silesian Cluster of Social Initiatives (activity unknown)Poland

Łomża Social Economy Cluster (activity unknown)Poland

Nadodrzański Social Economy Cluster (activity unknown)

Lower Carpathians Social Economy Cluster (activity unknown)


Shopkeepers Artisans and Production Marketing Cooperative
Esnaf Zanaatkarlar ve Üreticiler Pazarlama Kooperatifi


Social Cluster "Heritage Trail", Social Enterprises Cluster in Walbrzych (activity unknown)Poland


"Growth platform Social Entrepreneurship" - De PuntBelgium

Sumando Empleo AragonSpain

Thematic approaches

Social Economy clusters often cooperate around a shared thematic area. See the current areas, join the area of your interest or propose your own.

(under development)

  • Public Procurement
  • Skills
  • Local Investments and local development
  • Joint Investment schemes
  • Inclusive Employment
  • Quality assessments and labels
  • Corporate environmental policy and projects

Cluster policies and initiatives

  • No labels