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SME Cluster Growth

Overview and aims

SME Cluster Growth is a 3-year, ERASMUS+ Knowledge Alliance project to empower SMEs in the engineering sector to grow faster. It is based on the strongly evidenced-supported idea that SMEs do better when they collaborate with each other via industry clusters; and when they make broad use of the skills, resources, and collaboration opportunities available through Higher Education Institutes (HEIs). The project aims to facilitate action in these areas, and to help provide training and upskilling in ‘horizontal skills’, to achieve their growth objectives.

The project’s focus area is the engineering manufacturing SME sector, and more specifically in MTU’s case, the discrete engineering manufacturing sector in the Southern Region of Ireland (Munster plus Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford).

The project is led by the University of Málaga, Spain and spans nine partners across seven European countries. It is an ambitious collaboration with HEIs, future skills and business growth professionals, and university-industry relationship experts to advance engineering SMEs’ capacities. This is done through five support areas, including: Mapping, Cluster Growth Councils, Learning, Consultancy and Facilities Sharing. MTU is the Irish HEI in the project, and is leading on Work Package 5, the Student SME Consultancy & Change of Perspective Programme, in which programme modules will be developed, in collaboration with other project partners.


The project commenced in January 2021 and runs for 36 months.

MTU Role

  • Online survey of 50 Irish engineering manufacturing SMEs completed (which represents a very positive 50% response rate of those invited to participate); across the partners, about 250 companies have been surveyed, and results are being compiled
  • 10 Case Studies completed and written up, from Irish-owned discrete engineering manufacturing SMEs in the Southern Region; there have been 65 such studies carried out by the partners combined
  • 3 Expert Interviews completed and written up; and 18 in total for the project
  • Desktop research completed by all partners & now being compiled into an overall Synthesis Report