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Strengthening trade relations with Ukraine


EISMEA (European Innovation Council and SME Executive Agency)




IMP³ROVE, European Clusters Alliance (ECA), InPulse Partners SRL, Agrifood Lithuania, Eurada, Intracto, LOW, VDI/VDE

International cluster collaborations can promote innovation, global competitiveness, and international trade relations. A specific cluster policy in Ukraine is a relatively recent development, with the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance (UCA) founded shortly after the Russian invasion (February 2022). Slovakia’s 26 cluster organisations registered at the ECCP could play a key role in rebuilding supply chains and integrating Ukrainian clusters and companies into EU supply chains. The Slovak clusters cover the most important industrial ecosystems for further cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.

Well-trained workers in Ukraine as potential for the future

In 2021, the nominal volume of the Ukrainian economy amounted to 169 billion euro, which is comparable to the volume of the Hungarian economy (154 bn Euro). Prior to the war, the main sectors of the Ukrainian economy were wholesale and retail, agriculture, forestry, and fishing, as well as the production of goods. The high employment rate in Ukraine in knowledge-intensive areas indicates a good potential for skilled workers.

Important industrial ecosystems for further cooperation with Ukraine

In addition to Slovakia, which plays a key role in cooperation with Ukraine, the macro-region considered in the paper also includes ten EU Member States in the geographical vicinity of Ukraine: Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria, Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Nine industrial ecosystems have been identified as important areas for future cooperation between the EU and Ukraine:

  • Aerospace and defence
  • Agricultural products
  • Construction
  • Digital industries
  • Electronics
  • The health sector
  • Renewable energies
  • Mobility/transportation/automotive
  • Textiles

Support for Ukraine through international cluster cooperation is already in full swing. Activities include the ECCP’s EU Cluster Support Ukraine Forum, the Enterprise Europe Network’s Supply Chain Resilience Platform and the EU4Business Initiative.

In Ukraine itself, the Ukraine Cluster Alliance is working on the internationalisation of Ukrainian cluster organisations. In this context, 13 Memoranda of Cooperation have already been signed with European partners.

In the context of the Danube Transnational Programme, Ukrainian and Slovak stakeholders collaborated with twelve other partner countries on supra-regional projects between 2014 and 2020. In the funding period 2021 to 2027, the entire territory of Ukraine is entitled to participate in tenders.

Outlook: Potential for supra-regional cooperation

  • Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) provide a central foundation for interregional collaboration. The regions of Ukraine had already begun to develop S3 before the war. These cover a wide range of topics that are also relevant to the nine main industrial ecosystems for further cooperation between the EU and Ukraine.
  • More than 120 cluster organisations in Slovakia and the macro-region active in the nine central industrial ecosystems and interested in international cooperation, have been identified.
  • All in all, Slovakia, the macro-region, and Ukraine, have considerable potential for further cooperation and economic integration. The economic impact of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine can be mitigated through the reorganisation and development of new value chains between the EU and Ukraine.

Aim of the investigation

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) – an initiative of the European Union – organises “Cluster meet regions” events. Here, strategic issues for better cooperation between EU companies and international trading partners are discussed. Within the framework of the ECCP, Prognos is responsible for work package 3, “Data & Policy.”

The framework paper for the event “European clusters integrating Ukrainian clusters & companies into the EU value chain” in the Slovak city of Košice, presents the results of the investigation of (pre-war) trade flows and the regional strength of Ukraine. The study examined the trade flows and cluster landscape in Slovakia, Ukraine, the enlarged EU neighbourhood (macro-region), and the impact of the Russian war of aggression on trade flows.

Links and downloads

Read the analysis (

Project team: Dr Jan-Philipp Kramer, Lennart Galdiga, Marie-Kristin Komendzinski, Maximilian Welford, Fabian Schmidt, Felix Ginzinger  

Last update: 27.03.2023

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Your contact at Prognos

Dr Jan-Philipp Kramer

Vice Director, Head of EU Services

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Lennart Galdiga


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