New Energy Coalition (NEC) is a knowledge and network organisation striving for a sustainable world by accelerating the energy transition.
The reason to create the cluster Energy Valley in 2003 (from 2018: part of New Energy Coalition) was exceptional. Governmental institutes feared a decrease in economic activity and employment in the energy sector due to the forthcoming liberalisation of the energy market. Energy Valley was founded with the goal to create jobs by shifting towards a sustainable energy sector. The cluster mobilised the sector, adding big companies like Gasunie, SMEs, knowledge- and governmental institutes. From that moment on, it worked on the energy transition, an emerging topic at that time. The cluster realised important crossovers between worlds of electricity and gas. Later on they included green gas, wind-power, hydrogen and cross sectoral development between energy and water technology. The impact of the cluster increased.
In 2018 Energy Valley merged with Energy Delta Institute and Energy Academy Europe into NEC, which expanded the work. The concept of the cluster is to use its organisational ability, linked to ‘transition’ and ‘system integration’ and connect worlds. NEC plays a linking role between stakeholders to tackle the cross-border societal challenge through a holistic approach with concrete collaboration within projects with European organisations.
ERDF was one of the funds that enacted these developments. In the Smart Specialisation strategy of the Northern Netherlands the societal challenge ‘Reliable, Clean and Efficient Energy’ is prominent and NEC is contributing greatly.

Resources needed

Establishment costs: 2.1 million of which €567.000 ERDF. Main finance shifted from 2/3rd governmental/subsidy money, 1/3rd business/university money to 10% governmental and 90% from i.a. EU funded projects, private entities and commercial activities.
FTEs at NEC is 50, Energy Valley started with 2.

Evidence of success

Energy Valley started with 7 main financial partners and NEC currently has 21. Adding the platform of members, at its peak it was around 250 and with the relations of their broad network, it’s thousands.
NEC is a desired participant and co-initiator in (European) projects, e.g. Energy Transition Park Drenthe, MAKING-CITY and North Sea Energy. The cluster contributed to a great extent to the public debate in putting energy transition high on the regional agenda.

Difficulties encountered

Starting and expanding the network and impact in the start up period was a real challenge.
How, as a cluster, to balance societal challenge and expectations with financial possibilities.

Potential for learning or transfer

1. How as a region (MA) to handle a broad cross-border topic like energy transition.
2. How to use ERDF programming in a regional setting to gain most knowledge and experience with a worldwide relevant topic.
3. How to use ERDF programming to connect worlds or disciplines with each other (crossover in- and outside a sector) that normally wouldn’t, like water and energy.
4. How to identify the strong competences of your region and build on this via your Smart Specialisation Strategy
6. How to set up a Smart Specialisation Strategy built on societal challenges and programme ERDF(/other funds) on this.

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Main institution
New Energy Coalition
Groningen, Netherlands (Nederland)
Start Date
April 2003
End Date


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Good Practices being followed by

Ronan Gingles

Cork City Council