Good practice examples

The Science Park Graz

>> Austria – Graz cluster diagram

Country: Austria

NUTS 1: Southern Austria (Südösterreich)

NUTS 2: Styria (Steiermark)

City: Graz

Good practice: Training and education start-ups

The incubator offers a training and education programme for start-ups dealing with sales, marketing, law, finance, investor readiness, IPR, project management, team development, and pricing. The Science Park incubator has also developed a mentoring programme for its start-ups. Concerning access to the network and tutors, the Science Park has a network of experienced CEO’s and managers from almost all the large companies in the region. An experienced manager is invited to mentor the start-up during the incubation programme and coaches the start-up at least once every quarter of a year. Also, the Science Park also invites an academic expert to mentor the start- up with respect to R&D. Usually, academic experts (or professors) are found via the TTO Office of the TU Graz (or other universities), depending on the necessary field of expertise.

Evidence of success 

The Science Park mediates between start-ups and investors and other financial institutions that could fund or invest in the new company. They mediate with the most important governmental funding agencies, but also have set up a business angel network at the regional (and national) level to interest angels to invest in start-ups. The Incubator Science Park Graz offers a personal loan of €10,000 to the start-up entrepreneur, which has to be paid back after they have left the incubator programme (after on avg. 18 months).

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Technology transfer

>> Denmark – Copenhagen cluster diagram

Country: Denmark

NUTS 1: Denmark

NUTS 2: Hovedstaden

City: Copenhagen

Good practice: Support programme for cleantech

DTU Tech Transfer has a dedicated support programme for cleantech inventors as part of the Copenhagen Cleantech Cluster programme. They have a Proof-of-Concept fund for cleantech inventions and select cleantech projects/ideas/inventions to turn into business. Gap funding was available for around 30 projects in the period 2008-2013 (around 70,000-100,000 Euro of funding per project). The selection was done by an internal board consisting of scientists, business developers and an IPR specialist. The university will apply for the patent and becomes the patent owner when employees make an invention, but revenues on the patent are equally shared among three parties: the university, the department and the inventor (33% each).

Evidence of success

DTU funded on average 8 proof-of-concept projects each year with €70,000 to €100,000. These funds had to be used for prototype and small-scale demonstration activities (proofing the concept), and for market research, and commercial and technical assessment.

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Strategic Programme

>> Finland – Helsinki cluster diagram

Country: Finland

NUTS 1: Manner-Suomi

NUTS 2: Etelä-Suomi

City: Helsinki

Good practice: National policies

Cleantech has been a clear priority of the Finnish national government agenda for many years. The Finish government succeed in combining economic and environmental policies.
The public investments in R&D account for 4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) each year, the third highest globally. Cleantech is considered a business opportunity and as a horizontal activity which should be applied to all business sectors. Specific regulations have been developed to put this in practice as per the recent Strategic Programme which was launched in 2012.

Evidence of success

The programme aims are to double the present revenue of the cleantech sector in ten years (arriving at 40 billion euro in 2018), to create more than 40 new high-growth companies annually, generate 40,000 jobs by 2020, and to increase cleantech venture capital investments to 15% of total investments.

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“Business speed-dating” events

>> France – Essonne cluster diagram

Country: France

NUTS 1: Île de France

NUTS 2: Île de France

City: Essonne

Good practice: Investments in start ups

IncubAlliance connects the start-up to “business developers” (managers who have capital and free time, and that want to invest in start-ups). To give investors a central role in the maturation phase of the local cleantech incubation process. As Pierre Perrot (Director of IncubAlliance) underlined, “the final output of the (start-up) project won’t look like the initial project: either they are adapted to demand, or they disappear. This is a real Darwinian process: the survivors are those who are adapted. That is why we built business speed dating events. This practice complements the traditional selection process in Essonne, which cannot fully play its role because the diversity of the cleantech ecosystem is not rich enough.

Evidence of success

Currently seven sessions have been organised as well as 200 speed-dating meetings leading to 20% of the projects finding developers. The initial idea is: there are many senior professionals that have difficulty on the job market after their long-standing careers.

IncubAlliance accepts today that cleantech projects are obviously missing both technical and commercial maturity. The main purpose of the incubation process at IncubAlliance is to build this corporate ability and link good ideas to interested business developers that believe in it, and corporate investors that are committed to invest.

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Cleantech incubation ecosystem

Country: Germany

NUTS 1: Bayern

NUTS 2: Oberbayern

City: Munich

Good practice: Region policies

Germany has a strong national cleantech policy framework and a solid infrastructure for renewables. In 2012, the cleantech industry was set to more than double in volume, reaching 4.4 trillion Euros by 2025, creating jobs and maintaining its global market share. The volume of German companies in areas such as resource efficiency, sustainable transport and recycling is expected to rise 125% to 674 billion Euros. They will keep a market share of about 15% while creating an expected 1 million jobs. Germany plans to increase its reliance on renewable sources of power such as solar and wind as it phases out nuclear generation. Munich is one of Germany’s strongest economic regions, and also one of the leading regions on an international level too.

Evidence of success

The state of Bavaria, of which Munich is the capital, creates about 18% of Germany’s GDP. Its economic growth is slightly above the national average (2.9% 2012). Also the unemployment rate is lower than in rest of the country. It is the economical centre of southern Germany and home to many big international companies, such as BMW, that recently launched its first full electric car. In the Munich region, cleantech covers the spectrum of innovative products, services and processes that help assure a healthy environment, the efficient use and preservation of our natural resources, the reduction of pollution and other harmful climate risks, and provide a sound quality of life.

New Szechenyi Plan

>> Hungary – Budapest cluster diagram

Country: Hungary

NUTS 1: Közép-Magyarország

NUTS 2: Közép-Magyarország

City: Budapest

Good practice: Strengthen relationship between university and the business sector

In 2010 Szent István University published the New Szechenyi Plan. The title is: Raising the quality of educational and research performance at Szent István University. Research activity at the Szent István University (SZIU) has long-term traditions. As recognition of its scientific activity SZIU received a qualification of “excellent university” in 2010. Scientific cooperation within the university and with other higher educational institutions, academic and research institutes is very important. It became more and more important to be in contact with the business sector as well.

Evidence of success

Its mission is strengthening the relationship between the university and the business life through the following activities:
• organising courses in intellectual property protection and innovation management and awareness raising
• collecting new, innovative ideas from the research teams and evaluating them for potential utilisation. facilitating market access for the promising ideas (products, services) providing legal and economic advice
• novelty search, intellectual property protection (e.g. patenting) and maintenance of university patents involving external experts
• contribution in contracting and formulating the research contracts, their performance monitoring
• assistance in the formation of spin-off companies facilitating the business use of intellectual property
• internal and external consultations for the utilisation of the research results, covering the administrative issues, which allows the research teams to perfect operation.

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Start Cup

>> Italy – Torino cluster diagram

Country: Italy

NUTS 1: Nord-Ovest

NUTS 2: Piemonte

City: Torino

Best practice: Regional business plan competition

In the Piemonte Region the competition for start-ups is divided into 2 steps: Idea Competition and Business Plan Competition:
1) Idea Competition is an “open call” running the entire year; everybody can participate, from all over the world. Every year on April 30th the call is “closed” and all the submitted ideas are carefully evaluated.

2) Business Plan Competition is a more selective step where all projects are re-evaluated, not just the idea, but also the team, the intellectual property management strategy, the business plan and the business model canvas.

Evidence of success

For the Idea Competition every year on April 30th the call is “closed” and all the submitted ideas are carefully evaluated. The selection committee exists of I3P experts, such as coaches, tutors, experts from specific fields. In 2013 the Start Cup received 314 ideas. Only 139 were approved for the second step.

The selection committee for the Business Plan Competition is composed not just by I3P’s “internal experts” but also by professors, external experts, managers from companies, investors and venture capitalists. In 2013 I3P received 139 Business Plans and 15 were approved for the incubation process.

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Valorisation Programme Delta Technology and Water (VPdelta)

>> Netherlands – Delft/Rotterdam cluster diagram

Country: The Netherlands

NUTS 1: West-Nederland

NUTS 2: Zuid-Holland

City: Delft

Good practice: Delta Technology and Water

The valorisation programme Delta Technology and Water, abbreviated VPdelta, is a programme that takes the cluster of delta technology and water as starting point for promoting and advancing innovative initiatives. The programme aims to endorse collaboration between start-up companies, research and educational institutions and governmental organisations that are active in the field of delta technology and hydraulic engineering. It tries to fill in the gaps of the existing entrepreneurial eco-system, maintained by the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and the high tech incubator YES!Delft.

Evidence of success

By supporting over 20 start-ups, initiating and realising test facilities, such as Flood Proof Holland and Aquadock, accelerating over 70 innovative projects and making showcases visible. The VPdelta team consist of 8 people with different backgrounds and expertise, keeping their eyes open for innovative projects and start-ups.

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Funding cleantech start-ups

Country: Norway

NUTS 1: Norway

NUTS 2: Oslo og Akershus

City: Oslo

Good practice: Public Funding

Since 2006 Norway has been putting a lot of effort into reaching national targets including; 60% of all energy from renewable sources by 2070; and becoming a carbon-neutral country by 2030. Governmental organisations and public funds have been successfully emerging innovations since 2000 in the field of cleantech. Many seminars, programmes and projects are organised for start-ups each year and it is estimated that about 15-25 % of Norwegian start-ups are related to the cleantech sector.

Evidence of success 

In February 2009 the Norwegian government had established 8 world class research centres for offshore wind technology, solar cell technology, bioenergy innovation, environmental design of renewable energy, zero emission buildings, international offshore wind energy and subsurface CO2 storage.

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KIC InnoEnergy

>> Spain – Barcelona cluster diagram

Country: Spain

NUTS 1: Este

NUTS 2: Catalonia

City: Barcelona

Good practice: Renewable energy start-ups

Barcelona benefits from the participation in KIC InnoEnergy (Iberia), which allows them to focus on energy start-ups and build strong external investor networks, thanks to the good reputation of the incubator as a mentor. KIC InnoEnergy Iberia works on renewable energies (wind, CSP, PV, wave and tidal energy) since some demonstrative projects on Concentrated Solar Power are already present in Spain and Portugal.

Evidence of success

Barcelona was world capital of the electric vehicle in 2013 and hosted the Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS), the benchmark world congress for this sector.
There are 30 shareholders in the field of innovation and sustainable energy. The shareholders finance the incubation programme. Between 50.000 and 100.000 € are available for each successful start-up.

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>> Sweden – Malmo/Lund cluster diagram

Country: Sweden

NUTS 1: South Sweden (Södra Sverige)

NUTS 2: South Sweden (Sydsverige)

City: Malmo/Lund

Good practice: Incubator managed by a city

MINC started in 2002 as a pilot approach to business support and to encourage the growth of new companies in the city. The City Council drove forward a future vision for the city at that time, included the development of a new university, indeed founded in the late 1990s, new housing, business space etc. Initially the university only provided training for teachers but their role has expanded in the last 12 years and now they provide courses in science, technology and finance/business. MINC operates now a 24-month programme of support to new start businesses. This includes a 3-month probation period followed by a 21-month support programme.

Evidence of success

MINC follows incubatees for three years after they leave the incubator. Part of them ‘fly out’ while others rent a working place at MINC. In total between 65 and 70 companies have left the incubator since the foundation in 2002, employing 870 people. Total turnover is 820 million SEK and total venture capital 150 million SEK (€97.2 million and €17.8 million respectively). There is a survival rate of 90%, which means the incubator provides good value for money.

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Impact Hub Zürich

Country: Switzerland

NUTS 1: Switzerland

NUTS 2: Zurich

City: Zürich

Created by entrepreneurs the Impact Hub is independent of subsidies. The Hub is a network driven franchised model. It is locally owned, but still is part of a global network. There are 45 branches, and most of the branches are in Europe. The mission is: ” to help people to go from intent to action”.

Interaction between start-ups and stakeholders are made through matchmaking and networking events. The Hub is good at bridge-building. Start-up are linked for average 1.5 year to the Hub and afterwards their Impact Stories are shown on the website to show what can be done and what others have done.

Evidence of success

There were at the time in the beginning 40 members (except the team); so that makes 10-15 start-ups. Today there are about 350 members, so it makes 50-60 start-ups. Around 60% of the start-ups supported are cleantech oriented.

The Hub is an incubator space, meeting point and a place for events.

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Eco Cluster

>> United Kingdom – Cambridge/Peterborough cluster diagram

Country: United Kingdom

NUTS 1: East of England

City: Peterborough

Good practice: Interactive Network

Peterborough is home to “EcoCluster”, a growing interactive network of around 350 businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, academic partners and researchers (Cranfield University, Anglia Ruskin University, University Centre Peterborough, and Peterborough Regional College) working in the cleantech sector with the support of the public sector (Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough City Council). EcoCluster has the key features of a typical successful business cluster. In fact, it facilitates collaboration, synergy and the transfer of knowledge in a triple helix structure between businesses, public sector and academic institutions within a defined geographical area (Peterborough and its surrounding area) in a specific industry (cleantech).

Evidence of success

Peterborough is leading the European Strategic Cluster Partnership, a cluster network under the EC funded “Eco-Innovation Cluster Partnership (EcoCluP)” project. The network connects 2,500 eco-innovative and cleantech businesses across Europe and helps facilitate collaboration between the clusters themselves. It is the next generation of cluster initiative from the European Commission, which aims to create collaborative partnerships of clusters since the EC believe that global challenges cannot be solved by one cluster in isolation.

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Case descriptions and diagrams are based on interviews conducted in the period 2012-2014. Information given might be outdated.