Clusters3 conference - Powering Innovation and Building Capacity


Linda Jamison
May 25, 2018

Partners of the Interreg Clusters3 project met in Belfast for a successful conference and a learning workshop that formed part of a journey that began in Bilbao in May 2016.

The partners are from Spain, Poland, Latvia, Italy, Hungary and Scotland. They were joined by local companies and stakeholders interested in the concept. Clustering is widely acknowledged as a significant building block in the development of competitive regional economies, enhancing levels of innovation, improving skills-transfer and assisting in the identification and exploitation of new markets.

The main venue for the conference was the impressively restored rooms at the new Titanic hotel where the plans for ships such as Titanic were drawn, right opposite from where so many ships were constructed in Belfast’s heyday in the ship-building industry.

The infrastructures of Belfast’s old industries (docklands and enormous ship-painting sheds) are being used as a key resource supporting the development of its new industries (film, software, digital, tourism).

Invest NI and the Department for the Economy (DfE) held the events in the Titanic Quarter to illustrate the transformation that can be seen in this area. The infrastructures of Belfast’s old industries (docklands and enormous ship-painting sheds) are being used as a key resource supporting the development of its new industries (film, software, digital, tourism). In this small area of Belfast you really can see industrial transformation in action.

Conference highlights

There were a wide range of presentations from Cluster members. After opening remarks from Kevin Lavery from the DfE on the economic importance of clusters there was a lively presentation from Kristianne Paasche and Line Magnussen from Innovation Norway. They emphasised that even the most successful policies need to be constantly questioned, evaluated and evolved especially in this ever changing digital age.

A recent evaluation of the Norwegian policy has demonstrated its strong impact, but their belief was that the findings can be used to improve things further. Indeed, Norway’s mature clusters are working with them as partners in regional economic development. They set out a vision of how clusters can support regional transformation strategies more broadly .

Before the conference began Vincent Dugre, TCI Board member from Quebec and Victor Haze, Innovation manager, Health Valley – Netherlands gave short interviews on the importance of clusters in their regions.

The benefits of Clusters in Northern Ireland

Invest Northern Ireland support and encourage clusters with their Collaborative Growth programme. This has proved successful in creating industry led collaborations that are competing in a global market. Linda Jamison, the Invest NI programme manager, outlined the benefits of clusters in Northern Ireland.

The event provided input for the future design of Northern Ireland’s cluster policy; helped inform local stakeholders and SMEs about the important role clusters can play in our economy; provided an important platform to showcase Northern Ireland’s existing economic landscape to a visiting audience of European cluster influencers; and offered an opportunity to explore future joint working.

Further information

We offer a range of cluster support and advice to business through our Collaborative Growth programme. To find out more, contact our Business Support Team or call 0800 181 4422.

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