Food Cluster Initiative Meeting which was entitled ‘How to build successfully regional clusters, How to find support’ was held in Ghent, Belgium on 8-10 December 2010 with the participation of AGFORISE project partners.
Food Cluster Initiative (FCI) is a network of regional clusters and is an intrinsic part of both policy plans, namely the Europe 2020 strategy and the macroregional approach. The FCI conference which focuses on improving the links with industry in the triple helix when building regional clusters and on how to spot relevant support sources to ensure a sustainable concept brought together the regional authorities, regional clusters, companies, RTD performers and also notably academics from all over Europe. The Turkish partners of AGFORISE Project which is one of the research projects of Food Cluster Inıtiative met members of European clusters in the event. Leyla Arsan, CEO of TAGES, and other partners from Turkey, Mersin Special Provincial Administration, Alata Horticultural Research Institute, Targid Gıda San. Ve Tic. Ltd. Sti., Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry participated in the conference.
On the first day of the conference Food Cluster Initiative meetings were realized and Dirk Decoster, president of Federatie voedingsindustrie in België. Informati (FEVIA), made a welcome speech. On the second day of the conference a variety of participants from universities, regional clusters, and companies made speeches to share their experiences and foresights about food clusters and future opportunities. In the conference Norbert REICHL, from Food Processing Initiative Germany, talked about Challenges when building successful regional clusters, Magnus NILSSON, from Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy (CIRCLE), talked about Facilitating cooperation with industry, the case of Skane Food Innovation Network. Also the speech of Sylvie ALBERT, from Agropolis International, which is entitled How to transfer the cluster message toward the scientific community and the speech of Hilde VERMEULEN, from Department of Economy, Science and Innovation, Flemish Government, which is entitled Policy instruments for developing regional and interregional clusters were very informative for participants. On the last day of the conference the participants were informed about The European Commission’s strategy on clustering as a tool for regional economic development by Jean-David MALO, from European Commission DG-Research – Regions of Knowledge and Research Potential Unit. Keith HARRAP the policy analyst and impact assessment expert of FCI shared first outcomes and impact of the Food Cluster Initiative with the participants.
In summary during the conference the following topics were addressed:
- key experiences in cluster building (success stories, bottlenecks and success factors);
- the role of the different stakeholders (policy, research and industry) in building successful clusters;
- the impact of food clustering;
- funding schemes to further support the capacity building efforts of regional clusters;
- the future strategy of the Food Cluster Initiative
- Also four parallel workshops were organised:
- Intergovernmental funding opportunities for integrating the ERA: EUREKA and COS
- How to make industry the key driver of my cluster?
- How to evaluate cluster performance?
- Toolkit for practical handbook about business and co-operation option?
The meeting became highly efficient in terms of determining applicable knowledge to refine and adjust participants’ strategies in (future) cluster building, creating network opportunities to further build up or improve the regional and joint strategies and developing the future strategy of the Food Cluster Initiative.
The Food Cluster Initiative was launched in 2007 with an aim to involve different research projects for knowledge exchange and experience sharing and establish ERA in Food. AGFORISE project is one of these research projects that has been carried out by TAGES and other partners as a part of the The Food Cluster Initiative.