CAFEIN team at the Clusters Meet Regions in Malmö (Sweden)

On 15th and 16th June 2023, the CAFEIN team and members of the IFAB (Innovation Funding Advisory Board) participated in the CLUSTERS MEET REGIONS event held in Malmö (Sweden) continuing to work intensively on the design of a new joint action plan to support SMEs in their green and digital transition.

CAFEIN’s participation in CLUSTERS MEET REGIONS was a fruitful opportunity to present and introduce the project, its objectives and early achievements to the stakeholders who were present at the event, while meeting and networking with other European clusters.

During the event, titled “Clusters as Drivers of Innovation in Industrial Systems,” it was also possible to learn about the best examples across Scania’s areas of specialization and discuss how clusters can be integrated into the design and implementation of regional development policies.

Clusters are drivers of regional competitiveness, growth, employment and innovation and serve as key accelerators and facilitators for digital and green transitions and for strengthening resilience through the identification of needs and opportunities.

The event saw the participation of more than 100 representatives from EU clusters and companies, national and regional public authorities and business support organizations from Sweden and other EU regions, researchers, innovation agencies, industry associations and investors.

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Cluster Matchmaking Event with Nordic focus

One of the goals of CAFEIN is to give possibilities for matchmaking of European innovation ecosystems, to increase the conditions for international collaborations between clusters. In that spirit a virtual Nordic cluster matchmaking event was co-organised by CAFEINs project partner, Cluster of Sweden and NordicHub from Finland on May 9th. Partners were also Innovation Norway, Cluster Excellence Denmark, Iceland Tourism Cluster and TCI Network.

The aim was to bring together cluster organizations and other relevant actors, such as cluster support organizations, from all the Nordic countries to learn more about each other and to foster cross-border collaboration.  Besides meeting representatives from other clusters and support organizations, the intention was also to provide clusters with inspiring information on cluster development and funding possibilities for joint projects.

The event included both a webinar, focusing on cluster landscape in the Nordic countries, relevant funding instruments for cross-border collaboration and how to lead strategic transformation and accelerate cluster success. In total 55 different clusters representatives from eight different countries participated in the webinar.

The event also included an online matchmaking session, where a total of 34 meetings were held with the aim to explore the possibilities for cross-border cluster collaboration.

As has been shown in the studies that CAFEIN has conducted, there is a great interest in finding new and innovative collaborations that connect clusters between different countries in Europe based on common challenges and innovation opportunities. The virtual Nordic cluster matchmaking event was a statement of this.

CAFEIN hosted its Workshop on Regional Ecosystems

CAFEIN successfully hosted its inaugural workshop on regional ecosystems on May 2nd, bringing together 23 participants from the partner countries France, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Sweden. During the workshop, CAFEIN partners presented insights into their respective national and regional ecosystems, highlighting their unique characteristics. The workshop offered an invaluable opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of these ecosystems. External participants also contributed to the discussions, sharing their experiences with policy tools and initiatives that can facilitate the green transition for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The workshop generated several noteworthy lessons and suggestions that can be incorporated into the forthcoming joint action plan within the CAFEIN project:

1. Simplification of support systems and instruments – it is crucial to streamline both the processes associated with these instruments and the involvement of relevant actors;
2. Enhanced coordination at the national and regional levels – in addition to aligning policies, efforts should be made to identify the optimal synergy, articulation and complementarity between them;
3. Exploring opportunities for mutualization – rather than each cluster implementing independent activities, there is potential for pooling resources, particularly by partnering with regions outside of Europe;
4. Facilitating knowledge exchange: the workshop highlighted the importance of creating mechanisms that enable effective knowledge sharing among stakeholders;
5. Utilizing cluster labeling can be an effective mean of promoting EUCLES;
6. Advancing internationalization strategies – going beyond participation in fairs and events, CAFEIN, as Team Europe does, can leverage these occasions to further its objectives;
7. Collaboration with research entities and companies – CAFEIN should actively engage with other research players, including companies, to foster fruitful cooperation;
8. Examination of the Regional Innovation Valley – it is crucial for CAFEIN to assess this concept and determine the appropriate approach for positioning itself;
9. Assisting SMEs in accessing EU funding – CAFEIN should support SMEs in their application for European Union funding for Green Deal Research and Innovation, otherwise member states would not renew it.

In designing the action plan, the following recommendations should be considered:

1. Provide an overview of effective solutions that can be utilized;
2. Identify specific issues that require targeted interventions;
3. Address the challenges related to talent acquisition and skill development for SMEs.

As a final note, CAFEIN encouraged participants to join its partners and partake in Malmö’s Cluster Meet Regions event on June 15.

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