On 17-18 October 2017 the first Interregional Seminar took place in the Northern-Netherlands, organized by the Northern Netherlands Alliance (SNN). European partners of the Interreg Europe ClusterFY project became acquainted with the clusters and innovation networks in the Northern Netherlands. Together with the Northern Netherlands stakeholders and experts, the partners worked in inspiring environments at the Zernike Campus such as the Energy Barn and Energy Academy to find solutions for challenges within clusters and innovation networks. The interregional seminar was moderated by Emily Wise, Consultant and Research Fellow, IEC AB and Lund University. During the seminar presentations have been delivered by invited speakers and experts.

The day started with short presentations followed by panel discussions and an interactive discussions with the participants. The topics of the panel discussions existed out of: Cluster Strategies and Policy development and the second one about how to enhance the competitiveness of clusters and their members SMEs through their employment of KET’s and involvement into innovative value chains. The results of the joint morning program raised questions for the program in the afternoon. The participants worked together during so called Worlcafé sessions. The main issues discusses were:

• Cluster strategies and development of the cluster policies

• Role of European regions in cluster policy and development

• Interregional collaboration and Smart Specialization (ERDF)

• KET’s and cross sectoral linkages

• Innovative value chains

• Building opportunities

The entire day was organized in close collaboration with Energy Valley, who carry out a project with clusters within Interreg North Sea (Northern Connections). Energy Valley and the SNN have joined forces because there is a lot of common ground in both projects such as: a strong focus on the Research & Innovation Strategy, innovation support for SMEs, interregional cooperation and the improvement of European policy instruments and funds. This joint collaboration brought together 15 European regions, which contributed to more knowledge development, cross-overs and interregional networking opportunities. The day finished with a networking diner with several stakeholders and the participants from the 15 regions.  

The next day the interregional seminar continued with study visits. The study visit started by visiting the European Institute for the Biology of Ageing (ERIBA). Nick Cramer – Project coordinator of HANNN made a presentation of Healthy Ageing Network Norther Netherlands and its efforts to unite the regional R&D&I potential also actively involving the region’s authority to solve the social challenges. Healthy ageing network is an economic/business cluster targeting a societal challenge, working as a “umbrella network” with other networks/clusters. The second study visits continued the at the Water Alliance. Hein Molenkamp – the managing director of Water alliance introduced the “Water Tech Innovation eco-system” and its main idea. He presented that the linkages among the different challenges (food, water, energy) influenced them to look for the technological innovations and solutions.

After the study visits, Rima Dijkstra, the ClusterFY coordinator, moderated a roundtable discussion for the ClusterFY project partners to highlight the main outputs and thoughts of the ClusterFy meeting (both interregional seminar and study visit) in Groningen.  

The main outcomes and all the presentations of the Interregional Seminar can be found in the library on the ClusterFY Interreg Europe website.