Good practice ⭐
Bioeconomy Cluster designed and implemented its own Innovation Voucher Scheme to support innovative SMEs and cooperation between research and practice. Within this scheme, BEC supported the development and first-stage implementation of innovative solutions. Five projects were supported with a small amount of financial resources allocated. BEC also envisages an active role of clusters in fund allocation as clusters are often trusted by regional ecosystem players and decision makers and have the necessary skills for coordination, management, networking, communication and transfer of R&D findings into practice.
Main challenges 🎯
Considering the existence of multiple platforms, networks, associations and hubs all around Europe, the director explained that one of their main challenges is getting new members on board and providing the right portfolio of services to diverse target groups, i.e. adding value to members (using various business models). Additionally, bioeconomy is a specific topic going across numerous sectors and value chains. Although it is a wide-spread topic at the EU level, there are still some gaps in the understanding of bioeconomy at the national level, especially in Slovakia. "There is no bioeconomy strategy, nor action plan for supporting innovative bio-based solutions. Our cluster also wishes to increase awareness raising among entrepreneurs, policy-makers, as well as the general public in Slovakia."
Clusters collaboration and EU support 🤝
BEC is collaborating with other clusters in Europe, having signed many Cooperation Agreements and implementing numerous projects on relevant topics. According to Katarina, inter-cluster collaboration helps to improve the response to economic challenges and it allows for the expansion of value chains for regional businesses. There are also several opportunities for clusters at the EU level. BEC is currently implementing a project with 4 other European clusters, where they support internationalisation of SMEs. She mentioned that available support can be used as a tool to grow their membership, and also to provide more opportunities to their members. Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe projects have been very useful to network with other partners, getting knowledge from more experienced partners and thus, developing and boosting our BEC. Networking opportunities provided to clusters through ECCP are also considered very valuable.