The month of june is jam-packed with events for the OI/ MC enthusiast. While most of these are intended for an audience from around the world (or, at least, the German speaking world), the one I want to present to you today is both local and multinational at the same time, the Top Technology Cluster's OI-event on the 28th of June here in Aachen, Germany!
In 1976, some regions of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, all located rather close to each other's border, started working together economically and scientifically in what is called the Greater Euregio Meuse-Rheine. Since then, many fruitful joint projects including companies and research institutions from all three countries have been established.
To further promote this cross-border cooperation, 19 partners (companies, scientific institutions, NGOs, governmental agencies...) from the Euregio have founded the Top-Technology-Cluster (TTC). SME from the Euregio are offered several supportive services in establishing cross-border projects with SME (and potential large partners as well) from the other two countries. SME can profit from networking events, individual advice and support for companies (business development support) as well as financial support.
One very interesting offer is the so called "Innovation Voucher", a financial grant of up to 5.000 Euro intended to support SME in the very early stages of cross-border consortial engagement, like feasability studies, patent investigations, laboratory rent, prototyping and the necessary administrative undertakings to set up a consortia.
Furthermore, TTC offers non-repayable grants for innovative projects from the Euregio. Applying consortia have to consist of at least two SME from two different Euregio-countries. Other SME and larger academic, scientific or economic partners may be part of the consortia but given the very nature of the funding project the participation of suited SME is mandatory. Interested ventures can appy for the "Cross-border Cluster Stimulus" (German: Grenzüberschreitender Cluster Stimulus, GCS)) and participate in a contest to be awarded up to 250.000 Euro. Requirement, though: consortial partners are obliged to invest at least the same amount of money from their own funds.
By now TTC and its partners are looking back on 18 months of rather successful promotion of cross-border cooperations. To give all involved parties an overview of the work that has been done and the goals that have been accomplished, TTC will hold its Mid-term-event on June 28th, here in my home city of Aachen (which happens to be located just in the center of the Euregio).
On top of this, TTC has decided to put the main focus of the event on the topic of open innovation and its implications and possible applications for innovative companies in the Euregio. Unfortunately, Germany is no different from most other countries in so far as OI is known and recognized as a valuable concept but not yet put into action by as many companies as could be. Especially SME are often hindered by an information-barrier ("how to") and lacking experts to establish a working OI structure within their operations.
To overcome this obstacle, TTC has invited several regional and einternational experts to give inspiring insights into successful OI as well as ideas and processes that can help SME to improve their own innovation capacity and make cross-border cooperations even more fruitful.
Speakers will include my dear collegue Prof. Joel West (Keck Inst. of Appl. Sciences), Jingshu Du (University of Hasselt) and also myself. Futhermore, participants will be presented a number of business cases to learn about working OI from practical application.
After a (hopefully lively) discussion the event will be rounded off by a social get-together in which I hope to have some interesting exchange with those of you who will be there. If you are going to be in the region on the 28th I would be glad to see you there! Registration is still open until june 22nd.