The CLUSTERIX 2.0 project addresses the improvement of regional innovation policies by making better use of clusters. In particular, driven by the aim to boost the implementation of strategic cluster partnerships, the project focusses on complementary industrial and research competences to find new ways to facilitate intra- and interregional cooperation. The project offers an inspiring example of how interregional knowledge exchange, through a combination of measures, can result in policy change on national level.

In fact, as a result of close collaboration between the participating regions, insights gained from cluster policy benchmarking, peer reviews, and not least staff exchange, have contributed to the implementation process of a new funding scheme for Romanian cluster management organisations. The first ideas of developing a funding scheme came up already in 2013/2014, during the previous Interreg IVC project CLUSTERIX. An interregional staff exchange was the most recent action catalysing the development.

The staff exchanges organised between project partners served as an opportunity to gain deeper understanding of each other’s structures and systems, reflect on one’s own activities, and to generate new ideas from inspiration and discussions. In May 2017, a cluster manager from the lead partner organisation ecoplus in Lower Austria visited the project partner INMA (National Institute of Research – Development for Machines and Installations designed to Agriculture and Food Industry) in Romania. Within the host country, this staff exchange sparked in-depth discussions with several cluster managers, companies' representatives as well as members of Ministries about cluster strategies, funding schemes and cluster mapping.

The staff exchange discussions, together with the experience from other knowledge exchange activities, and lessons learnt from the Flemish Cluster Programme, contributed to the Romanian Ministry for Research and Innovation establishing a new funding scheme for cluster management organisations financed by the Romanian national RDI Plan. Equipped with a budget of close to 900 000 EUR for the 24 months of the first phase of implementation, the national programme is dedicated to supporting mature clusters in the elaboration of their research-development-innovation strategies and increase their offer of services for their members. The first call was launched last year and the projects who will receive support were selected in May 2018. The 12 projects selected include the IND-AGRO-POL innovation cluster that will receive support concerning its RDI strategic agenda, and the development of innovation capability in the Romanian Textile Concept cluster.

Altogether, the launch of the new cluster scheme was the result of knowledge capitalisation through different means, along with INMA’s involvement of key national stakeholders (the Ministry for Research and Innovation) and the cooperation with the Romanian Cluster Association – Clustero, well-illustrating the potential of interregional learning for speeding up innovation and economic development.