Strategic Transnational Cluster Cooperation - unlocking the potential for regional innovation

Strategic Transnational Cluster Cooperation - unlocking the potential for regional innovation

Northern Connections

Programme: Interreg VB North Sea Region

Project period: 2016 – 2020

Budget: 5.3 Million Euro (50% European Regional Development Fund)


Northern Connections was a partnership of 21 clusters, cities, regions and knowledge institutions from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, UK, Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany working together to create transnational innovation connections between enterprises, clusters, cities and projects in the energy sector. Northern Connections aimed to increase the innovation potential across borders. Therefore, Northern Connections looked into how innovative enterprises from different countries could be involved in Living Lab events and be connected with project initiatives.

Northern Connections’ approach on Living Labs was focused on concrete innovation challenges for which solutions are demanded. Northern Connections defined Living Labs as real-life environments, like demonstration and investment projects, that are facing concrete energy related challenges for which innovative solutions are requested and can be provided. The Living Lab should be open to transnational solution providers; have investments already taken place and/or are planned; and there needs to be public and private engagement.

The main goal of the Living Labs has been to connect Solution Providers and Challenge Owners in order to stimulate new innovation collaborations on a transnational level. In Open Solution Pitches at each Living Lab event, innovative SME’s in the North Sea region addressed the given innovation challenges and discussed options with the Challenge Owners in direct one-to-one meetings.

A total of nine Living Lab events took place during the project period in all regions of the covered project area:

The joint challenge of Northern Connections was to test the use of domestic innovation support measures in a transnational context and to address barriers to competition which exist between clusters and regions. Northern Connections objective is to enable more small and medium enterprises to participate in transnational innovation collaboration via strengthening transnational cluster, city and region cooperation.

The main output of the project is building up capacity and transnational relations of sustainable energy clusters to provide demand-led innovation support. In doing so, more SMEs could be involved in innovation activities and project initiatives. &60;Furthermore, innovative procurement helped combining the cities eco-political ambitions with the clusters’ capabilities to support innovation.

Northern Connections’ general approach was to provide a bridge between the private and the public sector concerning transnational innovation support. Innovation support measures helped to create incentives for transnational SME innovation partnerships to collaborate and establish a critical mass of innovation activity on a transnational basis. Northern Connections has broadened the opportunities for SMEs from the North Sea Region to participate in regional innovation activities and strengthened their ability to take part in global markets and create new value-chains.

Contact: Renewable Energy Hamburg
Tom Mikus, Project Lead International
+49 (0) 40 694 573-13