EU-Russia Cluster Workshop: Increasing Cooperation Potential, especially in Biotech and Medicine

The workshop, organised by the Northrhine-Westphalian partner ZENIT (Center for Innovation and Technology in NRW) in the frame of the BILAT RUS Advanced project, and in collaboration with the NRW cluster secretariat and with the strong support from Ministry of Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry as well as the Ministry for Innovation, Science and Research in NRW has been well attended. Overall 40 cluster representatives, other target groups from science and research as well as political representatives from Germany, Russia, Austria and France have listened to carefully selected speeches.

The objectives of the workshop covered the following issues: sharing and presenting the respective cluster models for future collaboration, to identify Russian and European Clusters that are interested and motivated for joint projects and to promote the networking of the Russian Clusters with the European Clusters. Seven different clusters from Russia came to Düsseldorf but with regard to the European counterparts, under the prevailing political situation; it was difficult to attract European clusters that formerly ensured their interest in collaboration with the Russian clusters. Still, there were representatives from three different EU clusters present.

The topics highlighted within the workshop have been the innovation and cluster policy especially in the Russian Federation and in NRW. The Russian Federation has initiated a competition and now 25 pilot clusters in Russia are financed with approximately 50 Mio Euro. The clusters need the support from their regional authorities as a precondition and are very motivated with respect to international cooperation. There is just one gap; the Russian clusters still lack SMEs. On the other hand was the presentation about the cluster strategy in Northrhine-Westphalia. The NRW clusters have as well won a competitive process and received funding for their management structures. Nevertheless the companies mobilized as well private money for running the clusters. The NRW clusters in general have forced the structural change in NRW.

Regarding funding instruments to foster the EU-RUS cluster cooperation, the FASIE funding instrument has been presented as well the EUREKA funding instrument. FASIE supports small innovative enterprises and has up to now bilateral cooperation agreements with Germany, Finland and France. EUREKA is a funding instrument for pooling different countries doing joint projects. They are independent; the EU is just a member. The added value of EUREKA projects is the transnational collaboration, the innovation and market orientation and the bottom-up approach (objective: at the end there is a product to be delivered!).

When it comes to cluster collaboration in general, the cluster policy is a vehicle for the European Commission to fund SMEs. Within Horizon 2020 and COSME, there are calls for funding cluster development or collaboration.

During the cluster workshop, best practice examples have been presented. E.g. Clib 2021 is successful over years due to their good relationship with the Russian partners A.N.Bach Institute and AIRR (Agency of Innovative Regions in Russia). Clib 2021 supported SMEs and the industry members identified future needs. On the Russian side, the Russian Venture Company pictured their activities. The company is not totally state owned. Their aim is to initiate the creation of funds and to develop ecosystems, e.g. for cluster collaboration. The RVC wants to be the one-stop service center for Russian and foreign partners.

To wrap-up the outcomes of the workshop, the different Russian regions representatives evaluated the workshop as useful and they see a good potential for collaboration especially in the fields of Biotech and Medicine. All agreements for collaboration are still in a developing stage and need time to increase. But they want to go to the next level, face-to-face interaction is important for such steps. Another question was concerning the possibility to train cluster manager. The NRW cluster are always open for visits and exchanges; furthermore the Clusterland Oberösterreich is offering Clustermangement Training.

Source: ZENIT

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