Economies of scale and network advantages as a result of clustering forces in Southeast Netherlands; these can be squared by expanding Euregional connections.
An obvious step is to enter into alliances with neighbouring regions in Belgium and Germany, but the prospect of cooperation farther afield in Europe also beckons. In both cases, moreover, there is scope for support from EU funds.
Brainport Network is focusing on expanding cooperation on a European scale.
Action lines within the Europe theme are:
- Forging European cooperation making optimum use of EU funds
- Capitalising strategically on the new EU programme period
The Vanguard Initiative – ‘Vanguard’ for short – is a network of 29 European regions, including the South Netherlands region, that are cooperating at the political and operational level to accelerate the breakthrough of promising new technologies in European industry. Brainport Network is one of the founding parties.
Project development with Flanders and Belgian Limburg
Brainport Network is working with Belgian partners on joint projects that can be submitted to Brussels. An initial project proposal concerns resolving border issues affecting labour mobility. Think, say, of overcoming obstacles such as incompatible laws and regulations and qualification requirements.
Exploring cooperation with North Rhine-Westphalia
With partners in North Rhine-Westphalia, Brainport Network is exploring cross-border cooperation.
Modifying regional innovation strategy (RIS3)
Brainport Network is contributing on behalf of Southeast Netherlands to drafting the regional innovation strategy (RIS3) with which South Netherlands will capitalise on the coming EU programme period. In order to ensure substantive coherence, Brainport Network is also providing input informed by coordination with representatives of ‘RISsen’ of Flanders and North Rhine-Westphalia.
What is it?
The Vanguard Initiative – ‘Vanguard’ for short – is a network of 29 European regions, including the South Netherlands region, that are cooperating on the political and operational level to accelerate the breakthrough of promising new technologies in European industry. Think, for example, of the modernisation of processes, which in turn contributes to product innovation. Specifically, Vanguard focuses on the strategic forging of links between industrial clusters that together have all the prerequisites for conquering interesting markets – with a view to creating growth and jobs in Europe. Vanguard came into being in 2013. Brainport Network is one of the founding parties, together with a number of other South Netherlands and Flemish partners.
How does it work?
Vanguard reveals where innovation is already dormant in the form of available knowledge and expertise. Focused network activities bring companies and knowledge institutions into contact with each other across borders. They learn from each other, enter into multidisciplinary partnerships and create implementation models for the final step of launching technology commercially. Vanguard supports all of this in a practical way and by providing guidance towards and lobbying for funding. South Netherlands is leading a pilot related to 3D printing and is participating in pilots related to efficient and sustainable production, nanotechnology and the bio-economy, accompanied by, among others, Baden Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Flanders, Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy.
What lies ahead?
The significance and influence of the Vanguard Initiative is growing. In summer 2017 it received official recognition as a European network that represents ‘Vanguard standpoints’ in Brussels. At the same time, all the network partners have committed to an internal financing system for sharing the coordination costs of the pilots. An active lobby in Brussels appears likely to bear fruit regarding long-term financing after 2020. Moreover, it looks likely that in 2018 there will be European calls for tender inspired by Vanguard. This means opportunities for moving forward with projects that thus far have been mostly exploratory in nature. Brainport Network is preparing for this by mobilising relevant parties in South Netherlands.
Frank Donders, business development manager South Netherlands at FME, the business association for the technological industry:
“Throughout north-west Europe extremely competitive production processes are needed, as a way of responding to China and low-wage countries, especially where efficient small series production is concerned. Digitalisation, in the form of automation, robotisation and the digitalisation of communication processes, is the solution. Vanguard stimulates companies to set to work in these areas. That is good. For South Netherlands too. Although we are a bastion of technological know-how, we are not making enough headway in the transition from knowledge to expertise. Current industrial success is suppressing the urgent need to innovate, and there’s some degree of trepidation. In the context of Vanguard we are contributing mainly knowledge, so that we in turn can learn from case studies. From Flanders, for example, for which we thank our pragmatic southern neighbours.”