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CLUSTERIX 2.0 Final Event – Achievements in Cluster Policies of the Last 5 Years

On October 16th, 79 people from 17 countries gathered to learn about and celebrate key achievements from the project, as well as hear about future directions for cluster policies in partner regions.

Following an introduction by CLUSTERIX 2.0 project manager Simone Hagenauer (ecoplus), Ana Mihaljevic (Policy Officer, Interreg Europe Joint Secretariat) presented an overview of programme achievements and directions for the future period. Then, the 9 CLUSTERIX 2.0 partners showcased their key learnings and actions on three topics. Key insights from partner videos and panel discussions are summarised below.

Empowering Cluster Management

Videos from VLAIO (BE), Westpannon (HU), Region Skåne (SE) and Region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (FR) highlighted various developments in the “portfolio of support” to cluster management – strengthening focus on cluster management excellence and learning between clusters, increasing leverage of clusters as “partners” in the implementation of regional development and smart specialisation strategies, and increasing focus on monitoring activities – to evidence and communicate the value that clusters deliver.

Panellists Annie Renders (Head of Unit Cluster Policy at Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship), Gál Körmendy (Head of Cluster and Economic Development Activities at Westpannon Nonprofit LTD), Jonas Bergholm (Regional Economic & Innovation Project Manager at Region Skåne) and Elisabetta Schena (International Cooperation Project Manager at Region Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes) discussed how policymakers need to combine various components (financing, competence building, ongoing strategic dialogue, monitoring and communication of clusters’ performance, etc.) to empower cluster management and stressed the need to invest in long-term strategic partnering between clusters, and between clusters and policymakers – to have shared ownership of policy objectives going forward.

Innovation Services for SMEs

Videos from NOI Techpark (IT), INMA Research Institute and North-East Regional Development Agency (RO) highlighted several different services to support innovation in SMEs including: in-depth assessments of innovation capacity and strategic counselling (innovation audits), competence mapping and matching (between SMEs and with research actors), and providing facilities for SMEs to come into contact with potential customers and “use environments”.

Panellists Andreas Winkler (Head of Sales at NOI Techpark, South Tyrol), Cornelia Muraru (President of the INDAGROPOL cluster and Engineer at the INMA Research Institute in Romania), and Ovidiu Savu (Expert External Cooperation at the North-East Romania Regional Development Agency) discussed the need to combine various innovation services (funding, helping SMEs get engaged in a vibrant ecosystem, accessing new partners and facilities) – packaged together based on SMEs’ needs.

The Role of Clusters in Public-Private Innovation

Videos from the Welfare Tech cluster in the Region of Southern Denmark and ecoplus Lower Austria highlighted various approaches for clusters to support more successful public-private innovation processes including: facilitating communication, interaction and co-development processes between companies, research actors (potential suppliers) and the public sector (buyers), helping to access “risk reducing” funding, as well as working with the public sector to open up and provide “live” demo/test environments.

Panellists Helle Knudsen (Chief Consultant in Health and Care Innovation at Region Southern Denmark), Simone Hagenauer (International project manager at ecoplus. The Business Agency of Lower Austria), and Karen Lindegaard (responsible for internationalisation at Welfare Tech Cluster in Southern Denmark) highlighted new learnings on different levels of public procurement fostering innovation (including exchanging ideas, matching ideas and offer, and involving public test users in demonstration projects) – summarised in the CLUSTERIX 2.0 Analysis “Regional Experiences with PPI”.

The panellists also discussed the potential for clusters to work more proactively in this sphere – addressing the need for better communication and connections between companies and public authorities, but also serving as platforms for innovative public procurement processes – facilitating collaborative processes to develop better public welfare solutions.

The virtual discussion across the three topics highlighted two main messages:

  • Through stronger engagement in interregional learning, platforms for exchange between clusters, and joint development processes, clusters have become more active partners in policy implementation (moving from a focus on funding/transactions to more strategic relations)
     
  • In the future, it will be increasingly important to develop longerterm strategic partnering and shared ownership (between clusters and policymakers – across policy areas) in order to realise common objectives for the recovery and transformation of broader innovation ecosystems

Marc Pattinson, Policy Learning Platform expert provided a final overview of lessons and directions from the portfolio of Interreg Europe projects relating to cluster policy.

The event concluded with a celebratory virtual gathering of the CLUSTERIX 2.0 partners, stakeholders and other participants.

For further information please visit our website www.interregeurope.eu/clusterix2. You will find the video recording of the final event as well as the videos from all partners summarizing achievements and learnings in the news section: https://www.interregeurope.eu/clusterix2/news/.

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