EURADA’s secretariat is committed to finding best practices from development agencies and disseminating them amongst its network and beyond. Every year, EURADA organises its Awards, with the aim of getting to know better the good practices conducted by members and non-members over recent years. The EURADA Awards bring the recognition of your peers and the possibility for further disseminating your project results. In this article, we introduce to you the project ROCKET – RegiOnal Collaboration on Key Enabling Technologies – the candidate of Oost NL which got them a committed-to-excellence prize.
As the Regional Development Agency of the East Netherlands, Oost NL is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs in both their local and their cross-border activities. They help foreign companies interested in locating themselves in the region as well as already-present ones. They were the winners of the first ever edition of EURADA Awards, back in 2015. 4 years later, they could apply with ROCKET, one of their INTERREG VA projects supporting cross-border co-operation.
ROCKET is now finished after a 4-year run. Overall, the project’s objective was to stimulate cross-border collaboration between SMEs from two nationalities so as to jointly develop new products based on Key Enabling Technologies. They carried out general actions such as project publicity, information meetings, workshops, joint feasibility studies, and evaluation; all of this was done in a distinctly innovative way.
Firstly, the budget was divided into two parts; closed and open. The closed part represented 40% of the total budget and went towards four innovation projects created with SME consortia before the project began. Then, the open part of the budget served to fund SMEs’ ideas for cross-border innovation. This system helped SMEs with little experience with these kinds of processes to gain inspiration and motivation. By allowing for sufficient time to work on 13 new project ideas, they could respond to the latest developments in KETs.
Secondly, they worked closely together in a proactive way. Entrepreneurs would be approached and encouraged to participate in the project, and Oost NL would directly link them with interested partners through their contacts in German RDAs. They worked closely with the beneficiaries of the project throughout all its stages in order to optimise their proposals. In this way, they built trust and were able to maintain their relationships with the companies after the project had finished, as well as stimulating the beneficiaries to think ahead.
Lastly, Oost NL helps shorten preparation time. The agency made programmes such as Interreg easily comprehensible for the beneficiary SMEs, who may not have been particularly familiar with its literature. Usually in these programmes, an application takes up to a year, which is too long. With the ROCKET project, however, procedures were much more comprehensible. It facilitated bureaucracy for the SMEs and had an average response time of only 8 weeks.
Oost NL humbly informs the reader on their official website on the success of the ROCKET project. In the article, they combine facts coming from both subjective evaluations and objective figures. On the one hand, they show the various ways the ROCKET project has been recognised so far. Not only have they been given recognition by EURADA, but also by other projects such as KissMe or WATIFY. The ROCKET project is cited by all as an example of the regional promotion of key technologies.
The official figures attained by the project are as follows: 3 start-ups were founded on the basis of the innovations developed; 72 companies worked together with knowledge institutions; 31 companies supported cross border innovation-oriented collaboration projects; 66 companies received financial support to create new innovative products or services; 127 companies were supported in cross-border innovation projects, working on products that are new to the market; 200 new jobs were created in the Dutch-German border region; 26 knowledge institutions participated in cross border projects; and 38 international markets are addressed with the innovations developed.
In addition to those figures, the innovation projects developed have provided needed solutions for several health and technology issues. They have supported projects which have come up with a prototype machine for the inspection of hydrogen fuel cells that make it possible to detect curves and deviations that are only visible at the range of the nanometres. This will result in an improvement in the production of hydrogen fuel cells for green and sustainable transport. Another example would be the use of nanotechnology in needles to improve the effectiveness of administering insulin to diabetic patients, a development which will improve the quality of life of patients. Other projects have focused on high-tech machines that can detect the elasticity of individual cells in the body; based on magnetic forces and on this value, it can be determined whether or not a cell is cancerous or healthy.
ROCKET has proven itself a success at meeting European needs and in cross-border collaboration and cooperation. We eagerly encourage agencies to keep up with the great job you have already been doing up until today, and we wish you much success in the future, which we hope you will carry on sharing with us!
Written by Roser Torres, Project Officer at EURADA.