Since 2001, the Lower Austrian Business Agency ecoplus has implemented cluster initiatives in strong and promising industries or cross-sectoral technological areas in Lower Austria. Currently ecoplus manages four regional cluster initiatives representing about 570 companies and above 80,000 employees in four key sectors / technology areas in the region: Green Building, Food, Plastics and Mechatronics. In addition the Lower Austrian E-mobility Initiative has been set-up.

The Lower Austrian Cluster Programme 2015-2020 governed by the Regional Government Department Economy, Tourism & Innovation provides support for the cluster management with the aim of fostering cooperative innovation projects, linking SMEs and leading companies as well as building-up and anchoring know-how in the region and strengthening process and productivity optimization in the region.

The initiation of collaborative projects is at the core of the Lower Austrian clusters’ activities. Experience and more than 600 collaborative projects so far proved the success and efficiency of R&D, innovation and qualification in collaboration as well as the creation of added value.

The cluster management of all four clusters was awarded with the European Cluster Management Excellence Gold Label.

Working with a cross-cluster concept has been increasingly important in recent years in the region. The ecoplus clusters are constantly looking for new combinations of know-how and new tools to foster cross-sectoral cooperation such as the Materiautech® material data base, the PlasTexTron® platform and the Competence Mapping tool helping companies to identify and describe their competitive skills apart from their usual products.

CLUSTERIX 2.0 will further address the need for (interregional) partnerships based on complementary competences in order to foster new ways of innovation, regional profiling as well as multi dimensional implementation of the Regional Innovation and Smart Specializations Strategy. Thus, ecoplus will share its tools and lessons learned within the CLUSTERIX 2.0 partners, notably insights from the clusters’ efforts to foster digitalization and from the cross-department implementation of the region’s RTI Programme:

“Enterprise 4.0” implements a triple helix collaboration in order to lead companies to the “Austrian Way of Digital Success”. The cooperation combines competencies within the areas of internationalisation, new business models/entrepreneurship and digital technology to allow sustainable success in the digital era through creating new value chains, new channels of distribution, new modes of working and new strategies of going international/global.

The case of the Lower Austrian RTI Programme addresses the challenge of overcoming obstacles in getting from a strategy to implementation and commitment of the regional stakeholders by interlinking the region’s Economic Strategy and RTI Programme.