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The North of the Netherlands and Northern Germany have a strong competitive edge when it comes to energy and cleantech. Many SME’s and knowledge institutions however are having a hard time finding each other. They would create strong partnerships, but lack the mechanisms to properly connect. Very usable innovations are not being realized or are having a hard time to reach the market. The Energy Voucher (or E-voucher) helps entrepreneurs with innovative products and ideas to move forward.

SME’s are the key to innovation. However they sometimes need somePrintscreen 2 support to launch new products and services. That is why the Energy Valley foundation, in cooperation with the Province of Groningen and the Landkreis Aurich are developing a cross border voucher system. With this voucher entrepreneurs in the Eems Dollard region can invest in knowledge or help to make their final move towards the market, quickly and without too many regulations. The pilot with the vouchers will start early 2015.

Alternative financing
“A real entrepreneur will undoubtedly ask: how much money can I get?”, Robbin van der Linde, project manager European projects at the Energy Foundation, states. “This will range from 2.500 to 5.000 euro for further development of innovative ideas. Alternatively, a company can request a larger voucher up to 9.000 euro for advanced technical assistance, testing or market application.” Fighting money as Van der Linde describes it.

Approaching new markets
Van der Linde describes what entrepreneurs can do with this money: “In Drenthe there are many companies in the field of sensor technology. Their solutions could be used in developing intelligent energy system solutions, but in the Netherlands we are not as far advanced in this field as in Germany. For those potential products there is no market yet. The aim is towork across borders, but it can be difficult for entrepreneurs to make that move.” With a voucher they can for instance obtain knowledge at a knowledge institute that knows how it works and they can be supported by someone that understands their potential and helps them to move towards the new potential market.

Regional development
The European Union supports the project from the European Fund for Regional Development through the Interreg IVa Nederland-Deutschland program. Brussels is aiming at cross border cooperation and strongly supports innovative SME’s. That is why this union between the border regions is very important. On both sides of the Dutch-German border there is a lot of knowledge in the field of energy which is not yet being shared and which does not always reach the markets. The pilot for a larger voucher scheme will start early 2015 and should lead to cooperation between SME’s in energy and  knowledge institutions.

Help from knowledge institutes
Within the E-voucher project SME-companies can use a voucher to get help from regional knowledge institutes and use demonstration and test facilities with a 65% to 80% subsidy. “As a guiding line the entrepreneur is requested to search for cooperation or support with across the border”.

An E-voucher can be spent on research and projects that:

  • Are aimed at energy and clean tech: power-to-gas, biogas, hydrogen, LNG, accumulators, decentralised energy use or production, energy storage, wind energy, water power, the development of services in the field energy savings, monitoring etcetera;
  • Are innovative;
  • Have market potential and contribute to the turnover of the company;
  • Are preferably crossing borders.

Two vouchers
Two kinds of vouchers are available:

  • Small vouchers up to 5.000 euro. These are intended to solve theoretical problems and answer any question an entrepreneur might have. This could be research into the current technical status, literature research, a feasibility study or consulting an expert.
  • Larger vouchers for 9.000 euro. These are meant for prototype development, experiments, demonstrations and measurements.

For more information:

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The ENSEA project has come to the point that triple helix partners from other regions around the North Sea can be involved in project development and can participate in different thematic Working Groups within ENSEA. We are happy to announce the involvement of the North Jutland region as an Associated Partner. A short interview with Morten Lemvigh, Head of Office, of North Denmark Region and Eskild Holm-Nielsen, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science of AAU Esjberg on how they got involved with with ENSEA and about their expectations of the Associated Partnership.

Energy Vision answers to ENSEA questions
The invitation to applying for associated partnership in ENSEA came from Stavanger University with whom Aalborg University has an increasing number of collaborations. The applicant was North Jutland energy platform, EnergyVision, on behalf of the North Denmark Region, North Jutland municipalities, Aalborg University, and North Jutland companies as well as AAU Esbjerg.

Morten Lemvigh, Head of Office of North Denmark Region

Morten Lemvigh, Head of Office of North Denmark Region

Indicating the main area of interest where the North Denmark region and ENSEA connect Morten Lemvigh says: “As a regional authority, energy system integration is a key to achieving two converging goals: the movement towards a smarter and greener energy system and the promotion of business within the field. Both aspects are currently highly prioritized at a strategic level in North Denmark and will be even more so in the future.” He continues: “Furthermore, it is apparent that steps towards the smart energy system of the future must be seen in a trans-regional context just as business development may obtain crucial R&D fertilization from exchange of knowledge and ideas with partners from our adjacent countries and regions in the North Sea Region.”

Eskild Holm-Nielsen, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science of AAU Esjberg

Eskild Holm-Nielsen, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science of AAU Esjberg

Eskild Holm-Nielsen mentioned that participation in ENSEA gives Aalborg University the opportunity to further intensify the collaboration with partners in the North Sea Region. He states: “At a concrete level, AAU hopes to become part of a successful platform for projects and partnerships within many of the thematic work groups of ENSEA. These thematic areas include: North Sea Power Ring, Sustainable Communities, Research & Education. Many of these activities may involve our campus in Esbjerg.”

Asking about the expectations of the associated partnership with ENSEA Morten Lemvigh  replies: “As a means to achieving these overall targets, the North Denmark Region hopes to accelerate triple-helix based collaboration between SME’s, authorities, and  research institutions within the region as well as between regions. Participation in ENSEA is thus a very promising tool because North Denmark already has strong traditions of collaboration within most of the thematic focus areas covered by ENSEA. We are very hopeful that these strengths may be increased by our engagement in the efforts of ENSEA to form an alliance around the North Sea through specific projects.”

Eskild Holm-Nielsen says: “Based on the invitations for collaborations we have received so far (having been an associated partner for only a short period), we see this as an excellent opportunity to engage in projects with the right scope and quality addressing important challenges of today and of the future.”

Also interested in becoming an Associated Partner? Download the factsheet ENSEA – Associated Partner – Information for interested third parties with more information and on how to get in touch.

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