On March 2nd, Flanders Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted a CLUSTERIX 2.0 stakeholder meeting for clusters in Brussels, attended by 20 representatives of Innovative Business Networks. This event, which looked back at the past 3 years of cluster activities in Flanders, included presentations from 13 cluster managers as well as an overview of the most important achievements over the past three years.
In Flanders we distinguish two types of clusters. On the one hand we have the Spearhead Clusters which connect to important strategic domains in Flanders. These clusters are large-scale triple helix initiatives that receive funding for up to ten years to develop and implement their competitiveness program. On the other hand we have Innovative Business Networks (IBN’s) which are usually smaller, bottom-up initiatives, receiving support for a period of three years to organize a collaboration dynamic in a specific domain that could lead to the increased competitiveness of participating companies. Funding ended for 14 of these networks in December 2019.
The aim of this meeting was to look back on the past three years of IBN cluster activities. The cluster managers shared their experiences, their most significant challenges, the achievements they are most proud of and how they foresee future activities after funding ends. Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship was happy to hear that most of the IBN’s have tangible plans to continue their cluster activities. Some will continue as independent initiatives, others will be incorporated into a larger organization such as a spearhead cluster or a collective centre for the technological industry. Although funding stops, Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship will continue to support the IBN’s in their daily work e.g. by giving them visibility in the innovation ecosystem via storytelling through various channels (website, social media), by organizing learning networks and training sessions for clustermanagers, by providing guidelines to project funding, etc.… This support will additionally be based on the learnings of ClusterIX 2.0.
About 1500 companies are currently active members of our Innovative Business Networks and participated during the last 3 years in cluster activities such as matchmaking events, workshops and collaboration projects. Over 250 collaboration initiatives were initiated by these networks. These initiatives are collaborations between three or more companies and include B2B collaborations, joint education and training, joint market explorations and feasibility studies, development of common tools (apps, data platform, ...), development of new services and products and cooperative innovation projects. The infographics and results illustrate the usefulness of IBN’s as a successful structural framework to provide a temporary impulse to cooperation dynamics in new innovation and emerging domains.
For more information about the Flemish clusters, please visit our website.