Transylvanian Clusters International Conference – Open Innovation

Submitted by Alina Danieles… on 30 June 2016

Mr. Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions participated between 23rd-24th of June, in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, at the Transylvanian Clusters International Conference – Open Innovation.

More than 330 participants from 15 different countries and 50 speakers

• With the support of TCI, ECCP, EEN, Romanian Academy-Institute for Economic Forecasting, European Green Technology Alliance

• Under the patronage of CLUSTERO and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Relationships with the Business Environment

• 2 plenary sessions, 8 workshops; 1 special workshop for cluster management teams (ECCP and ESCA), participation of many clusters from Romania and abroad

• Main topics: IT&C and Creative Industries; Agribusiness; Innovation in the furniture industry; New Materials &Technology; Energy Efficiency; Related Industries;

• 2 days of B2B, B2C and C2C matchmaking sessions to discuss or to initiate new projects; 102 meetings; 20 exhibitors;

• The conference achieved it’s aim to bring together the research and innovation with the business field and citizens. through the concrete results presented at this event and it encouraged the direct matchmaking between stakeholders in order to develop collaborative future projects. 

The main outputs of conference:

Plenary main speaker Mr. Markku Markkula, the President of the Committee of Regions highlighted the importance of clusters and that the traditional 'Triple Helix Spiral" is replaced by the regional innovation ecosystem concept, quadruple helix, where it’s more and more about collaboration and citizen involvement. Will enter a new dimension will be placed in the regional and local economic and social opportunities for cooperation.

"Create something new, something that will become a brand of your region, of your city", said Mr. Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions, here at the Transylvanian Clusters Conference. The connection between universities, research institutions, enterprises, training centers and the civil society is a vital objective for local governments. The more the connection works, the more bottom-up innovation can be co-created and spread towards the public and private sectors.

Bror Salmelin, European Commission: "Cluj is a unique city from the demographic point of view, thanks to the students. This structure gives you the opportunity to develop the open innovation concept here. The open innovation is the result of the collision between disciplines, with the active involvement of all stakeholders: industry, research, public sector and people.

We have to move from planning to doing. We don’t need think-tanks, we need ‘do-tanks’."

•      We all are creators- A co-creative process with excellent innovation capability that includes rich connectivity of people in their roles within the community, multidisciplinary and multi-maturity of disciplines and open environments for innovation (Living Labs). Users, all with different knowledge, skills, experiences, roles, points of view and needs, can contribute positively to the innovation process;

•      Better services: better life – Current (internet) users are better prepared technically and intellectually due to the constant use of advanced technologies and all the information they have available in the internet. On the other hand, as services' consumers, users know their needs as well as the deficiencies or limits of a specific service; subsequently, they are in a position to improve those services either providing new ideas or producing services by themselves;

•      Open Functional Platforms are needed where all actors, including end users, can interact and new ideas can be captured in a more effective way and to involve everyone and accelerate innovation;

•      A Living Lab (concept launched by Finland in 2006) is an open innovation ecosystem in real-life setting in which user-driven innovation is the co-creation process for new services, products and societal infrastructures. Living Labs encompass societal and technological dimensions simultaneously in a public-private-people partnership; The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) incorporates 212 Living Lab members;

•      Open Innovation 2.0-creating ecosystems -Clusters are not enough to create new; ecosystems needed, experimentation and prototyping, quadruple helix, cross-fertilization, win more, interdisciplinary etc(the paradigm change is real) –Horizon 2020;

Mr. Markku Markkula 

"I am a man who believes in people, in the richness of the great potential of our young and older generations and in the great opportunities the European Union is offering to them to be lifelong learners, active citizens creating a better future for themselves and for all."

•      Smart regions and smart cities as the Innovation laboratory (create creative spaces-attract talent people; developing attractive innovation environments; a circular economy-knowledge share and reuse; entrepreneurial discovery-a key driver of transformation; the crucial role of universities; more focus on grand societal challenges etc);

•      Regional diversity at the service of a common goal: smart growth (the capacity of regions to innovate depends on many factors: the business culture, innovation support services, technology transfer mechanisms, R&I and ICT infrastructure, the mobility of researchers, business incubators, new sources of finance and local creative potential, good governance etc); Mr Markkula presented a set of possible solutions for digitalization in cities of Transylvania;

•      Regions on the way of smart specialization that needs to exploit regional diversity, stimulate cooperation between all stakeholders and open up new opportunities for regional innovation(clusters, SMEs sector); cultural and creative sectors which flourish at the local and regional level are in a strategic position to link creativity and innovation;

•      Focus on technologies with market impact up to 2020 (wind; solar; electricity grids; bio-energy, nuclear, smart cities and communities; fuel cells and hydrogen) and on longer term research actions; financing projects;

•      Green innovations and eco-innovations are less environmentally harmful than available alternatives. Advanced industrialized countries have generated and adopted green innovations extensively. Romania lags in the area due to a number of barriers to the absorption and diffusion of such innovations. Such barriers can be overcome with the aid of coherent policies that support eco-innovation;

•      Climate change impacts pose significant adaptation challenges for all countries. Governments and regions can overcome such obstacles by adopting policies that support innovation in general and eco-innovation in particular while improving the environment for doing business. Why? Under the right framework conditions, innovative firms and investors will be in a position to deliver the services needed by society effectively and efficiently; policy makers should prioritize sectors, actions and investment with involvement of all relevant stakeholders;this could ensure a broad social support for the policies needed for achieving effective adaptation solutions;

Thematic workshops:

Growth in ICT and Creative Industries – Romania has a strong domestic market and huge potential to attract young people in these sectors. We have forward-looking businesses with an international outlook. And, we have industry structures which can exploit the efficiencies of the digital market. The participants at the Conference discussed on experience industries, intellectual property, Arts, Fashion, design, culture, software as well as on financing opportunities and common projects in these sectors.

One of the key-note speakers of the ICT and Creative Industries workshop was Mr. Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning, founder of the Creative Business Cup and former chairman of the European Creative Industries Alliance. He considered the iTech Transilvania Cluster’s initiative to create a new cluster – the Creative Industries Cluster - very good, a huge opportunity for networking and investors and he offered his support and sustain in the next stages.

Mr. Tscherning also proposed to organize in Cluj-Napoca a special European event dedicated to European Creative Industries under the patronage of the Creative Business Cup in the next years.

New materials & arriving technologies in the furniture production - Research has demonstrated that design can have an impact at both the micro level of the firm and as a driver of growth at regional and macro levels; however, design is under represented in innovation policy – Romanian Design Council/Romanian Design Week.

Research and Innovation Transfer in Bio-Economy -  Research and innovation play a critical role in ensuring the food and nutritional security of citizens, and globally. There is an urgent need to put in place measures to better understand and limit risks and environmental impacts, better cope with varying conditions and seize opportunities for new ways of production and consumption, including the prevention, rapid detection and effective mitigation of emerging food safety issues. Participants at the conference discussed the existing challenges and financing opportunities like Horizon 2020; EIT’s 2016 call for knowledge and Innovation Communities (KIC)-Food4Future-Sustainable Supply Chain from Resources to Consumers and Added Value Manufacturing.

Energy Efficiency – latest evolutions and existing challenges; support schemes for renewable energy projects; clusters-innovative business models (Arch Energ Hungary; Rosenc and Green Energy Romania); smart energy solutions for smart cities.

An interesting presentation was focused on aerospace area (Mr Phillipe Lattes from Cluster Aerospace Valley Toulouse France) labeled with gold at EU level and interested in developing software solutions with Romanian companies.

High quality cluster management is a key element of successful world-class clusters. Strong management is crucial for cluster organizations for providing professional services to cluster firms, for assisting companies to access global markets successfully, and for raising the innovation capacity and competitiveness of cluster firms;

Benchmarking is an efficient and effective way to identify the potential of a cluster and to develop strategic recommendations for its further development within a short time frame; how to become a labeled cluster and which are the steps towards silver and gold cluster standards? 

 Exchange of best practices between Romanian clusters and clusters from Hungary, Poland, Germany, Finland, Italy that participated at this conference and matchmaking sessions will improve their strategy and business development, internationalization and communication, marketing and branding, promotion in EU networks and partnerships for EU projects (Horizon 2020; KICs calls 2016 in Food4Future and Added Value Manufacturing; COSME; INTERREG etc)

Mrs. Christina Leucuta, Senior Advisor, Romanian Cluster Association, concluded: „The Conference was very well organized, both logistically, and in terms of its contents (agenda, social dinner, speakers which were all highly respected professionals, dynamic debates etc); I believe that this opinion is shared by most of the participants. The Conference was a great success! I wish to congratulate clusters team from Cluj for this event and I hope to attend the future Conference 2017!”

Main organizers: 

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