The EU-funded project "Development of Clusters in Cultural and Creative Industries in the Southern Mediterranean", which also benefits from a financial contribution of the Italian Development Cooperation and which is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), aims at strengthening selected clusters and cluster initiatives in cultural and creative industries (CCIs) in the Southern Mediterranean that have the potential to develop into promising pilot cluster initiatives.
Since the project was launched in February 2014, a team of UNIDO mapping experts has interviewed over 500 persons throughout the seven participating countries — Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia — and identified over 140 clusters and 70 other economic realities in cultural and creative industries.
The project also opened a competitive call for proposals inviting companies, associations and institutions in the beneficiary countries of the Southern Mediterranean to request technical assistance with the formation of clusters. A total of 134 proposals were received, which testifies to the great interest in developing clusters in cultural and creative industries in the region. Proposals covered a wide array of industries, ranging from ceramics to textiles and handicrafts. In every country, a national steering committee decided on a ranking of the proposals received.
On 11 December 2014, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), which gave its label to the project, hosted the first regional project approval committee in Barcelona, where representatives from six out of the seven partner countries, the European Investment Bank, the European Union and UNIDO reviewed the mapping of clusters and initiatives and unanimously validated the selection of two clusters per country.
The 12 clusters chosen stem mostly from design-based industries: Algeria selected a jewellery cluster and a brass cluster; Jordan chose a garment and a ceramic cluster; Lebanon supported a jewellery and a furniture cluster; Morocco opted for a garment/fashion and a homeware cluster; Palestine selected a handicrafts and a furniture cluster; and Tunisia chose a kitchenware and a mosaic cluster.
Egypt launched the project on 3 February 2015. Its national steering committee unanimously decided to select the habitat design cluster and the leather accessories cluster, bringing the total number of selected clusters to 14.
With the completion of the inception phase, in February 2015 the project started its implementation phase and began to train cluster development agents, meet stakeholders, organize field visits for cluster experts and design experts, all of which seek to develop clusters’ business plans and organize necessary capacity-building activities for both selected and non-selected clusters.