Cluster policy isn’t a one-way road, it is also about linkages between different EU initiatives. During the panel discussion moderated by Ulla Engelmann, representants from different Directorate Generals presented their work.

Dana Bachmann (Head of Unit – Vocational Education and Training, apprenticeship and adult learning) spoke about vocational excellence. Vocational education conerns not only young people, but also people in the workforce needing up- or re-skilling. In the future, a demand-driven approach to vocational education should be developed, the providers are often members of clusters.

Demos Spatharis (Head of Unit for State Aid for Research & Development & Innovation, IPE and environment) showed the State Aid Regulations concerning Innovation Clusters. Key points can be find in the General Block Exemptions Regulation Article 27. State aid rules allow the support of Innovation Clusters, operational aid and investment are possible to a certain degree.

Marek Przeor (Team Leader, Smart and Sustainable Growth, DG for Regional and Urban Policy) presented the first objective of European Cohesion Policy 2021-2017, that is “a smarter Europe by promoting innovative and smart economic transformation”. Smart specialisation strategies include:enhancing R&I capacities and the uptake of advanced technologies and digitisationdeveloping skillsgrowth and competitiveness of SMEs (start-up/scale up)

Andrea Halmos (Policy Officer – Technologies and Systems for Digitising Industry, DG for Communications Networks, Content and Technology) explained the concept of Digital Innovation Hubs. Having a not-for-profit perspective, they help coordinating the ecosystem of organisations with complementary expertise and offer a set of services to private and public sector organisations to support their digital transformation, as “test before invest”, support to find investment, innovation ecosystem and networking, skills and training. Focus topics are Artificial Intelligence, high-performance computing and cyber security.

Martin Muehleck (Policy Officer, Marie-Sklodowska-Curie Actions, DG for Education, Youth, Sport and Cultur): MSCA actions allow a ‘brain circulation’ in form of the mobility of researchers and innovators. Examples are Innovative Training networks, Individual Fellowships, Research and Innovation Staff Exchange, Co-Funding of Regional, National and International Programmes.

Fernando Hervas (Deputy Head of Unit, Territorial Development, Joint Research Centre) presented the Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) Thematic Platforms on Agri-Food, Energy and Industrial Modernisation. These platforms support interregional cooperation in new growth areas, aiming to build an investment pipeline of bankable projects, provide tailored advice and help regions establish links with the business and research communities. As of May 2019, the 32 existing thematic partnerships supported by the three thematic S3 platforms include innovation actors from 175 regions in 28 countries (25 EU Member States + Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway and Turkey)

Mathea Fammels (Head of Liaison Office Brussels, European Institute of Innovation and Technology): The European Institute of Innovation and Technology, established in 2010, respresents Europe’s largest innovation community. They adress innovation differently, building a pipeline of ideas, talents and innovative ecosystems. The aim is not only to bring partners together, but also to to integrate them in one legal entity and develop long-time activities.


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