What do the 31 regions cooperating in the FOOD CLUSTER initiative have in common?
They all work on food production and food research, helping companies with research and development. This network of 12 projects from FP6, FP7 and Interreg all have a basis strengthening regional research capacity and developing regional policies to transfer knowledge to companies.
Why do these 31 regions cooperate? Linze Rijswijk from Food Valley explains: “The European Union does not have a central research strategy like the US or China. Europe has to cooperate to compete globally”. He continues: “Although food production and research is often fragmented across Europe, we have a lot of common problems. Is it not strange that we spend so much money on research to cure food related diseases like obesity and diabetes, when we do not invest in innovation to develop healthy food to prevent such diseases?” Unlike the pharmaceutical sector the food sector invests very little in research: only a quarter percent of output is invested in R&D.
The companies, research institutes and regional governments cooperating in the Foodcluster want to invest in healthier, safe, more sustainable and tastier food products. Building on the diversity that European regions bring. Different European regions have varying capabilities and specialisations to develop knowledge and technology. Therefore they cooperate. The Food Cluster Initiative is a learning platform for regional policies and innovationinstruments, but also a platform to develop new interregional research and developmentprojects.
Regions represented in the clusters are drawn not only from Member States such as Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria France, Germany, Denmark,Spain, UK, Greece and Italy, but from associated countries such as Turkey, Serbia, andFYROM as well.
FCI is a learning platform for regional policies and innovation instruments, but also a platform to develop new interregional research and development projects.
In 2007, the Food Cluster has been launched with the ambition of involving different EU funded research projects within an exchange of knowledge and experiences, learning about each other's strengths and weaknesses, defining regional strategies and investing in the strengths through integral use of national and regional funding (Research Framework Programmes, Structural Funds, Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, etc.) as a basis for establishing EU consortia in food science - in fact building the ERA in Food.
Cooperating, ambitious Food regions can learn from each other, strengthen the EU Food research area and can increase the competitive advantage and welfare of the EU by building interregional projects on an EU level based on regional strengths. Moving towards this increased European coverage will involve joining EU “hotspots” of food production and research clusters, learning from each others strengths and weaknesses, defining regional strategies, investing in the strengths through integral use of national and regional funding (FP7/CIP/SF etc.) as a basis for establishing EU consortia founded on regional strengths in Food science – in fact building the ERA in Food.
1. Promoting diversity and excellence
of food production and food research of European regions to increase welfare;
2. Interregional cooperation and learning
between clusters, regions and projects: exchange of experiences with defining Regional Food RTD strategies and implementation through projects at regional level, together with regional policy makers, companies and research institutes to increase R&D performance, innovation and technology transfer;
3. Developing interregional projects
to invest in the combined regional strengths to create excellence in the European Research Area, with use of FP7, CIP and Structural Funds, through
The European Food-cluster initiative is a 'pilot' scheme designed to establish European clusters of coordination in order to enhance regional research capacity building and regional economic development with significant impact at local level.