Canada’s Innovation Superclusters came to match with EU Clusters at the EU Cluster Weeks’ main event, Hanover Fair, 1-2 April 2019

Submitted by Alina Danieles… on 04 April 2019

The Hanover Fair was the perfect location for the main Anchor Event of the EU Cluster Weeks campaign on 1-2 April 2019.

On this occasion, the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs of European Commission (DG GROWTH) organised a high-level cluster event to highlight the important role clusters play in SME internationalisation, with a special focus on EU-Canada cluster and supercluster cooperation. The event was organised back-to-back with the kick-off event of the German Cluster Week 2019, in cooperation with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Canadian Ministry for Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED).

The event gathered 10 Canadian participants, including the Senior Executives of the 5 Canadian Superclusters, and 30 European cluster managers from 15 countries as well as other various cluster stakeholders and policy makers from Canada and the European Union.

Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, opened the high-level session, followed by Dr. Ulrich Nussbaum, State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, His Excellency Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Ambassador to Germany and Special Envoy to the European Union and Europe and John Knubley, Deputy Minister at the Canadian Innovation Science and Economic Development Ministry.

Specific insights on Canada and EU cluster programmes were introduced to set the scene. Canada’s Innovation Superclusters were presented by Jennifer Miller, Director General for Innovation Superclusters Initiative at the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Ministry, Canada: the Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster, the Artificial Intellingence Supply Chain Supercluster (SCALE AI),  the Digital Technology Supercluster, the Ocean Supercluster and the Protein Industries Supercluster. An industry-led initiative launched by the Canadian government with a total investment of 950 Mil. Canadian dollars to boost Canada’s innovation and economic development over a period of 5 years.

Dr. Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit for Advanced Technologies, Clusters and Social Economy at the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROWTH) of the European Commission gave an overview of the European Cluster initiatives with a specific focus on the EU Cluster Internationalisation Programme. She stressed that Canada is a priority country for European clusters and announced that an Administrative Arrangement supporting cluster collaboration between the EU and Canada is in preparation to be signed during the upcoming matchmaking event taking place on 5-7 June 2019 in Toronto. This non-legally-binding agreement will contribute to facilitating the direct policy dialogue and concrete collaboration between clusters and SMEs from Europe and Canada. The European Strategic Cluster Partnerships for Going International (ESCP-4i) represent a strong foundation for the support of European SMEs to go international through clusters and Dr. Engelmann announced the launch of a new call for this programme in the second half of the year 2019. Looking into the 25 currently running ESCP-4i partnerships, 10 of them are targeting Canada as a strategic country which represents a strong potential for direct collaboration.

The German Central Innovation Program for SMEs (ZIM) was introduced to the audience by Dr. Carmen Heidecke, Head of Unit for the program at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. With a budget of 555 Mil. EUR in 2019 it represents the largest programme supporting the innovative SMEs and targets more than 3000 (sub-) projects per year. It is particularly important to note the growing number of international projects (about 5% of all cooperation projects).

Industrial collaboration between Europe and Canada is highly and positively impacted by the signature of the Canadian European Trade Agreement (CETA) which is – as Commissioner Oettinger mentioned in his opening speech – “the most modern agreement that has ever been negotiated”. Mr. Lucas Lanzotti, Project Officer at the CETA Market Access Program showcased with examples the benefits for the EU businesses and underlined the need for more information and awareness raising on the positive effect of the agreement that can trigger further collaboration and exchange of goods, services and technologies.

The event included thematic round table discussions where participants could start connecting with each other.

The second day of the event started with the opening of the German Cluster Week 2019 (more information will be available soon) and was also dedicated to the matchmaking between European and Canadian clusters.

The EU-Canada high-level cluster cooperation event succeeded to create a well-appreciated positive atmosphere where both parties could find a strong potential for business cooperation and opportunities to learn from each other.

See more insights into the outcomes of the event such as photos (below) and testimonials.

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