Cluster practitioners from across Ireland attended the kick-off of a European Union (EU) Project “Accelerate GDT” at Munster Technological University (MTU) on the 28th of April, which aims to support the EU’s twin green and digital transitions of SMEs through integration of supports through cluster policies.
The project, worth €1.5m, consists of 8 European partners, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE), Cyber Ireland, and lead partner MTU.
The European economy is undergoing unprecedented transformations in the context of major uncertainties linked to the geopolitical instability and rising global challenges. The EU green deal aims to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, with the EU investing over €600m. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of our societies and highlighted the importance of digital technologies for Europe’s future economic growth. The EU suggests that the “digital transition requires the uptake of digital solutions by virtually all businesses,” and will invest €250 billion to achieve this.
Clusters have a central role in not only achieving the twin green and digital transitions, but to accelerate them through their unparalleled access to firms, especially SMEs, and activities to support innovation, technological uptake, skills development and internationalisation. There are approximately 250 green-tech clusters and 400 ICT clusters across Europe.
The project starts at an opportune time for clustering in Ireland, as the White Paper on Enterprise 2022-2030 was published in December 2022. This sets out Ireland`s industrial policy for the medium to long-term, building on Ireland`s economic strengths of an open economy with strong trade and foreign direct investment, a vibrant innovation hub, and a resilient labour market. Of the seven priority areas defined in the White Paper – three are central to ACCELERATE GDT’s aims – Decarbonisation, Digitalisation, and the enhanced role for Clustering as a part of enterprise policy toolkit. The Enterprise White paper commits to funding 5 national cluster organisations under a new National Clustering Programme by 2025.