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The cosmetics sector was valued as 77 billion€ at retail price in 2015making the European cosmetics and personal care market the largest in the world. The industry supports at least 2 million jobs, including direct, indirect and induced economic activity, and it’s also an important R&D sector with 26,000 scientists employed. The majority of Europe’s 500 million consumers use on daily basis cosmetics and personal care products to protect their health and enhance their wellbeing.

Moreover, European cosmetic products have a positive image in the world as the industry is strictly regulated by legislation and the producers adhere to certain manufacturing standards that ensure the high quality and safety of products. Additionally, it’s not only the finished products that are of European origin, but the complete integrated value chain takes place in EU: extraction of ingredients, raw material, formulation, manufacture, packaging, finished products, distribution and logistics, engineering/machine tools, assembly lines, testing and analysis/quality control, services, research and training.

The growing forecast for the cosmetics sector in Europe is very positive. During 2015, the sector grew by 3,5 % and the exports to third markets beyond Europe accounted for more than half of the total revenues, around 40.3 billion €. These data is very promising and provide an important incentive for the European Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are interested in internationalizing their work.

SMEs are rightly considered as the backbone of the European economy and as such, it’s crucial to provide them with tools to support their access to global value chains, as for instance helping them internationalise. This is the particular case of the project “EU Cosmetics Creative clusters: a driver to international wellbeing industry” with the acronym “Cosmetics4Wellbeing (C4W)”, approved by the European Commission on August 2017. The project has a duration of eighteen months and it is in the framework of COSME programme, dedicated to enhance the competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs.

The Beauty Cluster Barcelona is one of the partners of the project together with two more clusters: Cosmetic Valley (France) and Transilvania Lifestyle Cluster (Romania), one network of clusters: France Clusters and one business network: Beira Baixa Business Association (Portugal).

All the participants of that project knew each other through the Cosmetics Clusters International Network (CCIN), a larger network that was formed under the umbrella of the World Innovation and Cosmetic Cluster Summit organized in Paris during October 2016. CCIN is a perfect tool for keeping the worldwide cluster organizations in close contact, for the exchange of information between them and it facilitates the creation of synergies, as for instance the birth of the C4W project.

The aim of C4W is the creation and development of a European Strategic Cluster Partnership–Going International (ESCP-4i) in the cosmetics sector and related industries. Other sectors beyond cosmetics boundaries, developing new transnational value chains include: Technology (Digital transformation and industry 4.0), Agro-food (raw materials used as primary ingredients for different cosmetics) and Health (mainly dermatology). From a transversal perspective, the partnership will push for circular economy principles when designing new value chains and/or new products/services. Next, we will analyse each sector and see how they are related to Cosmetics.

Among the work packages designed, the one leaded by BCB consists on an extensive desk research and/or workshops with cluster members to undertake a thorough diagnosis in view of determining which new cross sectorial and internationally oriented value chains are to be developed and promoted for the European cosmetics industry and related sectors.

To that end, the overall objective of the project is oriented towards increased internationalisation and strengthened sustainability of European SMEs through the intensification of cluster and business network collaboration.

Cosmetic Europe Statistics Report, 2015 (Cosmetics Europe – The Personal Care Association).


Judit Morlà
Innovation Manager en Beauty Cluster Barcelona