Cork City Council as Consortium Partners in the Interreg Europe project Innova Foster attended the second project benchmarking and knowledge exchange visit in Tartu, Estonia, on the 25th and 26th of April 2017. The programme which included an overview of Start Up support and innovation programmes, workshops and site visits was organised by Tartu City Government the local municipality responsible for promoting innovation, competitive entrepreneurship and knowledge based production and services.

The delivery of Innova Foster’s outputs will be supported at a regional level here in Cork by the Cork Innovates Partnership. Cork Innovates provides a framework that brings together agencies and multi-level ideas within Cork’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Regional stakeholders include local government, state agencies, educational institutions, business support organisations, entrepreneurs and local business. The Partnership will focus on a triple helix approach across public sector, educators and industry partners to support the dissemination of knowledge and best practices from consortium partners across the region.

Seamus Coghlan and Councillor Chris O'Leary of Cork City Council travelled to Tartu to participate in the Innova Foster meeting. They were joined by regional stakeholders Eamon Curtin, Director - IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme at University College Cork and Dr John Hobbs Senior Lecturer Department of Management and Enterprise at Cork Institute of Technology to represent Cork’s innovation ecosystem.

Seamus Coghlan, Head of Economic Development at Cork City Council believes that “the ability to bring representatives from CIT and UCC to Estonia as part of Innova Foster allows for additional learning and best practices from the project to be filtered further across our regional ecosystem in Cork and the South West. Whilst also creating further linkages for project partners across each participating region.” 

Image: The Innova Foster Consortium upon the conclusion of the second project benchmarking and knowledge exchange visit in Tartu, Estonia 26th of April 2017.

During the meeting, stakeholders were introduced to the key elements involved in the Tartu innovation ecosystem. Two key events annually include ‘sTARTUp Day’ which showcases start-up ideas and involves 3,000 plus attendees and ‘Tartu Entrepreneurship Week’ which involves between 3,500 and 5,000 people annually.

The workshop was led by Alo Lilles and Siim Espenberg, Tartu City Government, Department of Business Development. Presentations were given by Aleksander Tonnisson, CEO and Co-Founder of ‘Build it Accelerator of Things,’ which focuses on supporting and investing in entrepreneurs with hardware solutions and products. Rein Lemberpuu, CEO / Founder ‘Contriber’ which supports Nordic founders by providing them office space in Tartu, making investments, organising start-up events, providing services and software tools. Maret Ahonen, Director, ‘Idea Lab,’ University of Tartu which runs business development programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the university. The final presentation was from Andrus Kurvits from Tartu Science Park, who informed the group about the focus that Tartu has on Space Technologies and their use across various different industry sectors.

The consortium also had the opportunity to visit the start-up accelerators and co-working spaces Tartu had to offer. There was an opportunity for a guided tour and presentation of Tartu Centre for Creative Industries, SPARK Demo and SPARK who all work as elements of the integrated innovation ecosystem in Tartu.

Dr John Hobbs was impressed with the synergies across the start-up ecosystem in Tartu, “there are strong interconnections and collaborations evident between the key players in the innovation ecosystem. Tartu is a region which understands that there is a critical need to further link their research and higher educational institutions strategically with regional enterprises, entrepreneurs and the regional and local development agencies, to maximise growth potential. RIS3 is extremely relevant from in this regard for Estonia and perhaps this opens potential for collaboration via the ecoRIS3 project.”


Project Facts

INNOVA FOSTER aims to leveraging start-ups (scalable, high-potential SMEs with less than 5 years of life) growth through their engagement into the innovation processes at local or regional level and improving their role as regional and industry innovation providers in seven European regions.

Project Acronym: Innova Foster

Project Type: Interreg Europe

Project Duration: 36 months from 2017 – 2020


For Further Information Contact:

Aurelio Jiménez, Project Coordinator, INCYDE Fundación SPAIN

E-mail: [email protected]