Developing a Cluster of Excellence on Energy System Integration in the North Sea region
The triple helix consortium partners cooperating within the ENSEA project share a common vision with respect to how a secure, clean and efficient future north sea energy system can be developed, while building on strong regional competencies.
ENSEA studies have indicated that regions located around the North Sea basin poses similar yet often highly complementary expertise when it comes to energy and renewable energy technology.
Additionally, and under influence of low pragmatic European energy and innovation policies, these regions have developed energy- and smart specialisation strategies that have driven research and innovation activities over the last years in similar ways. As a consequence, regional innovation infrastructures (e.g. technical facilities, entrepreneurial support services, financial facilities) and business networks have developed in comparable ways.
Although the development of a resilient energy system is often thought to be a top-down process driven by strongly coordinated strategies at EU and national level, ENSEA partners see significant opportunities to speed up this transition process by supporting necessary innovations on important technologies that currently slow-down our energy transition. Considering our main energy challenges within the North Sea region and our need for further integration of renewable energy technologies with existing energy production capacities, infrastructures etc. these so called “key enabling innovations” often lie at the intersection of multiple disciplines and traditional value-chains.
In the coming period, the ENSEA working group for innovation will focus on setting up highly pragmatic services that allow entrepreneurs from different regional business networks, with different but synergetic skills and competencies to cooperate with each other across regional and national borders. In doing so, entrepreneurs will be taking advantage of new opportunities offered to them by access to new innovation infrastructures (knowledge, test and demonstration facilities, living labs, funding etc.) and ultimately, long lasting business opportunities. In this way ENSEA will not only facilitate the development of technological and non-technological innovations so drastically needed, the increased links between specialised skills and knowledge will lead to new interdisciplinary value chains that can provide the North Sea region with new job opportunities and economic growth.
As a first step towards this goal Dutch project partner Energy Valley, has participated in a benchmarking exercise where cluster management practices, offered services, connection to innovation infrastructures etc. where analysed.
Providing a sound basis for further pragmatic innovation support for energy related entrepreneurs, the benchmarking exercise awarded Energy Valley with a bronze label for cluster management “striving for cluster excellence”. Project partners from Scotland and Northern Germany have detailed plans to further implement these benchmarking activities in their organizations, as a basis to further align their regional innovation infrastructures and develop pragmatic support services that will help entrepreneurs to take advantage of innovation and business opportunities in the wider North Sea region.
Together, ENSEA partners wish to establish an “interregional cluster of energy excellence” where our bottom-up organized cooperation on key energy innovations can make a significant contribution to the development of a secure, clean and efficient North Sea energy system. When we will achieve this, we will be a leading example for interregional cooperation in the world.