EU Project ACCELERATE GDT officially kicks off in Cork

Submitted by Natalia Gutiérrez on 05 May 2023

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Munster Technological University and associate Partner the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment of Ireland, hosted representatives from 7 partners for the official launch of the Interreg Europe funded project ACCELERATE GDT on the 27th and 28th of April. The purpose of ACCELERATE GDT is to reinvent national and regional cluster policies to support the twin green and digital transitions and SMEs competitiveness.

The project starts at a great time for Ireland as the White Paper on Enterprise 2022-2030 was published in December 2022. This sets out Ireland`s industrial policy for the medium to long-term, building on Ireland`s economic strengths of an open economy with strong trade and foreign direct investment, a vibrant innovation hub, and a resilient labour market. Of the seven priority areas defined in the White Paper – three are central to ACCELERATE GDT’s aims – Decarbonisation, Digitalisation, and the enhanced role for Clustering as a part of enterprise policy toolkit. Sharing best practices with colleagues across the EU can ensure Irish polices line up with those that are best in class across Europe and have an impact on supporting industry from their implementation.

Michael Loftus, VP of External Engagement, MTU, welcomed the project partners gathered in MTU Cork at the Bishopstown campus on April 27th. Partners met for the first-time face to face, network, connect and outline their clustering experiences. It was fascinating to learn more about the 30 years of cluster policy in Catalonia; cluster initiatives in Turin; cluster management organisations from Vienna; the national cluster programme in Budapest; cluster evaluation in Prague; and how colleagues from Duisburg are focused on integrating green transition supports through cooperation projects for their heavily industrialised region.

The consortium were treated to an in depth introduction and connection to the Irish Cluster Ecosystem with interventions from Professor Eleanor Doyle, UCC, who presented ‘Clustering on the Island of Ireland: A Gap Analysis’ a report which identified areas of critical support to clustering and collaboration from a North-South basis. Gillian Slattery, Enterprise Ireland, explained the ‘Regional Technology Cluster Fund’ Enterprise Ireland’s cluster support and development programme; Dr Eoin Byrne, Cluster Manager, Cyber Ireland, explained how Cyber Ireland has been developed incrementally over the past 5 years, and finally, Siobhan O'Carroll, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, spoke about the centralised national policy being developed for Ireland through the ‘White Paper on Enterprise 2022-2030’.

On Friday the 28th of April was the Official Launch of the ACCELERATE GDT project. After some networking, Gerard O’Donovan, Head of Faculty of Business and Humanities and Caoimhe Gavin, Principal Officer Enterprise Division of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment officially launched the project, welcoming the partnership and a group of 45 Irish stakeholders all of whom play a role within the Irish Enterprise and Clustering landscape. Dr John Hobbs, of the V-LINC research group who is leading the consortium provided some background on the project, its aims, and goals. Dr Hobbs believes that “the key benefit of the ACCELERATE GDT project is the ability to collaborate with our international partners, meet them face to face during the project and learn from their experiences and let them benefit through ours – that is how real learning occurs. The ACCELERATE GDT project, is a great opportunity for partners and stakeholders to share, understand and visit twin transition initiatives. This will allow our consortium to have more impact when enhancing our own cluster policies.”

The launch benefited through the excellent interventions of international expert speakers on the future for EU Cluster Policies. The keynotes were provided by Dr James Wilson, Research Director at Orkestra-Basque Institute of Competitiveness, who presented his thoughts on ‘Cluster Policy Frameworks into the Future.’ Whilst, Mr Alberto Pezzi, Senior Manager Cluster Policy, ACCIÓ, Catalan Agency for Business Competitiveness detailed the ‘Outcomes of the Expert Group on Clusters,’ in which he participated.

The impact of the project is multiplied with the addition of TCI Network as project management support for the ACCELERATE GDT partnership. TCI provides great opportunities for collaborations with cluster practitioners from policy, industry, and academia right across the globe. Claudia Soncin, Network Co-ordinator at TCI believes “the support of Interreg Europe in funding ACCLERATE GDT is extremely proactive and progressive as many countries across Europe and Internationally are utilising their cluster and RIS3 policies to bring government supports closer to meeting industry needs, increasing collaboration and tackling big social challenges such as the twin transition. TCI are delighted to be involved and supporting the project, we are looking forward to sharing ACCELERATE GDT leanings across Europe and Internationally.”

Whilst visiting Cork the partners were able also to relax and sample some excellent Irish cuisine and local atmosphere with visits to the Strasbourg Goose, White Horse and Doreen’s Bakery and an outstanding traditional Irish music performance from the excellent Eoin Coughlan and Tommie Cunniffe.

Additional information:

ACCELERATE GDT is a four-year, two phase €1.51 Million project funded by Interreg Europe under the ERDF. The consortium brings together a mix of expertise from Barcelona; Turin; Vienna; Budapest; Prague; Duisburg and the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment in Ireland as an associate partner with MTU leading ACCELERATE GDT. Partners are drawn from European ministries, national policy makers, regional development organisations and universities, and are participating to share learn and experiences which will make cluster policies in partner regions more impactful in supporting industry on their twin transition journeys.

For further information please contact Dr John Hobbs @ john.hobbs or via the ACCELERATE GDT project website Alternatively, you can follow the project on Twitter @AccelerateGDT and LinkedIn.

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