Company IC Benchmarking

Companies who are already involved within a cluster or collaborative network might find it useful to check whether their involvement in the cluster is heading towards the right direction and if the right intangible resources are mobilised in order to make the cluster successful as a whole. Therefore, the Company IC Benchmarking offers the opportunity to compare IC between a selected group of companies who know each other and share a common goal and vision within the collaboration.

Expected results

The Company IC Benchmarking aims at two results: Firstly, companies working in a collaborative environment can check whether the IC resources committed to the cluster/collaborative work are suitable to reach the collaboration goals. Secondly, participating companies can see the strengths of other companies and initiate mutual learning and exchange of good practices within the cluster or collaboration based on important IC factors.

What happens?

The procedure is run based on an adapted IC Benchmarking questionnaire. All participating companies fill in the questionnaire on their own and send back the results to the Cluster Facilitator. During a joint meeting the results are discussed openly, strengths and weaknesses are discussed and needs for improvement and exchange of ideas are identified.

Who’s involved?

Cluster Facilitator and SME CEO or management representative from the initiating SME meet for the preparation (between 1 and 2 hours). The filling in of the questionnaire and then analysis during a joint meeting will involve representatives from all participating companies.

How to do it?

The following steps outline the basic procedure how to run an IC Benchmarking exercise with selected cluster companies.


First of all, the Cluster Facilitator and initiating SME define which companies of the network should be included in the exercise. Then, the IC factors which are relevant for the catalyst SME and the cluster and which should be analysed and benchmarked shall be identified during a short joint meeting between Cluster Facilitator and SME CEO or management representative (see Checklist: Common IC Factors)
The basis for this selection should be the collaborations joint activities/task and its goals and strategy. Hence, before the selection of important IC factors, the cluster vision and strategy should be discussed briefly. The basic questions during the meeting should be:

What is the purpose, goal or strategy of the specific cluster/SME collaboration?
Which IC resources do the single SMEs need to bring to make the collaboration successful (which are relevant) and how can they be described in the case of the cluster?


Based on the results from this preparation step, the Cluster Facilitator creates the IC Benchmarking questionnaire for the cluster and sends it to the participating SMEs (based on IC Benchmarking Questionnaire). A clear reference is made to the participants that the single IC success factors should be evaluated in the light of the cluster goals and how the single IC factors of the single SME contribute to the achievement of the cluster goal.
Each cluster SME is being asked to complete and return the questionnaire within a certain timeframe.


With the help of an excel tool, the Cluster Facilitator compiles the IC data gathered via the questionnaires (see Company IC Check Moderators Toolbox). Graphs and portfolios can be created displaying the differences in the cluster SMEs IC evaluations, as well as showing a joint portfolio with aggregated results from the whole cluster.

To support the discussion during the joint workshop, the Cluster Facilitator prepares a powerpoint presentation summarising the results and possibly posters with IC portfolio
The following questions can help to prepare the interpretation of graphs to foster discussion during the workshop:s and strengths and weaknesses profiles. It is recommended, to start with the discussion of strengths first – this helps to build trust and motivation for the exercise.span style=“color: #802e5f;“>⮕ Which companies share IC strengths (or weaknesses)?
Which companies performing exceptionally good in certain areas of IC and could be best-practice examples for others?
Are there any synergies between SMEs IC profiles visible?


The next steps could be the following: on the one hand the exercise displays the single evaluations from the participating companies. Based on these single IC maps, needs for improvement can be identified. The following procedure and questions can support the interpretation of graphs can help to identify suitable areas for knowledge exchange and best-practice transfer:
Starting point: Aggregated IC management portfolio to give a snapshot of overall IC strengths and weaknesses in the cluster
Go on with detailed graphs and portfolios displaying the differences in the cluster SMEs IC evaluations to identify detailed fields of intervention
Discuss about measures and prioritize:
Which fields of IC need to be tackled urgently to develop the cluster?
Which SME partners could support others? Which SME partners could share experiences
Which partners could be more effective because of synergies?

On the other hand, the excel tool also creates aggregated portfolios of the Benchmarking exercise, displaying the overall performance of the collaboration or the cluster. Based on the aggregated IC map, improvement needs for the whole cluster can be derived and actions for the future should be discussed in the jointly during the workshop. In case the cluster would like to review its cluster IC performance regularly, it is recommended to use the cluster IC benchmarking (see next chapter).