NRP Projects

Projects Interreg

AlpLinkBioEco – Linking Bio-Based Industry Value Chains in Alpine Regions

Lead Partners: Rudolf Koopmans, Jacques Bersier, Michael Keller Plastics Innovation Competence Center (PICC) - School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, HES-SO - University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland

Duration: 36 months (April 2018 – April 2021)

Budget: 2.036.020 € (1.730.617 co-financed by the ERDF)


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Project Summary

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The project addresses one of the biggest common challenges of the Alpine Space: the transition from a fossil-based to a circular bio-based economy. This transition is needed to strengthen the regional economic activity and sustain high value-added businesses and jobs in the Alpine Space. The challenge is caused by:

  • Traditional operation in a linear economy
  • Poor understanding of natural strengths in the Alpine Space
  • Missing awareness of interregional opportunities

The project aims at tapping into the existing potential by setting up a methodology to connect diverse bio-feed-stock producers with intermediate product developers and end users of high value applications addressing critical societal needs, to create new cross-regional value chains for a bio-based circular economy. It will result in four demonstrator value chains with identified individual actors covering agro-based industries, wood-based industries, chemistry and food- / pharma-packaging.

Three specific objectives:

  • Facilitate tailor made matching of bio-based actors across the Alpine Space
  • Facilitate initiation of high added value bio-based applications and product
  • The Project Partnership

Plastics Innovation Competence Center (LP-CH), Business Upper Austria (ERDF LP AT), ClusterAgentur Baden-Württemberg (DE), Poly4Eml (SI), Chemie Cluster Bayern (DE), Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (SI), France Cluster (FR), Plastipolis (FR), Lombardy Green Chemistry Association (IT), Technologiezentrum Horb (DE), Hub Innovazione Trentino (IT), BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg (DE), Confindustria Lombardia (CM IT), Centro Studi Alpino di Pieve Tesino (IT)


ASP S3-4alpclusters logo

S3-4AlpClusters - Transformative Activities for Regional Development

Lead Partners: Jacques Bersier, Michael Keller
INNOSQUARE CLUSTERS - School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, HES-SO - University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland

The S3-4AlpClusters project aims at enhancing smart industrial transition in the regions of the Alpine Space by making use of the interplay between clusters and S3. It offers a set of tools for cluster initiatives and regions to explore capacities and opportunities for transformation and to facilitate the identification and development of transformative activities based on need-based interregional cooperation.

Project Summary

Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) are a common policy lever at regional level within the EU. They aim at supporting regions in achieving structural change in order to generate the innovation and growth needed to harness globalization. However, recent experiences show that the identification and development of transformative activities - i.e. the innovation capacities and actions that have the potential to lead to this structural change - remain a significant challenge in the practical implementation of S3. S3-4AlpClusters tackles the two identified roots of this challenge. Firstly, there is a lack of experience among regions on how to use clusters to implement S3. Secondly, real transformative activities could often be developed more successfully in a joint effort across regional borders. The activities of the project are structured in 3 phases and driven by stakeholders from 11 regions. All relevant actors of an interactive innovation process are taking part: academic researchers, industry professionals, authorities and customers. The first phase spanned from 2016 to 2017 and aimed at analysing the challenges of S3-related policymaking and the current role of clusters in that process, as well as identifying potentials for complementarity and synergy between regions. The identified challenges were addressed in a second phase, in 2017 and 2018, through the elaboration of a systematic process for the identification and development of transformative activities. The partnership also developed practical tools for process implementation, and for the facilitation of need-based interregional cooperation through cluster initiatives. In the third phase (currently running) the tools and processes are applied and tested in 25 pilot- clusters across the Alpine Space, contributing to the identification of new transformative activities and significantly facilitating their joint development across regions.

The Project Partnership

The project brings together 15 partners from 11 Alpine Space Regions as well as their clusters and 10 observers. Partners include private and public actors from business organizations, SMEs, regional and national authorities, sectoral agencies and academic and research institutes. An Advisory Board of 5 experts, presided by Dominique Foray (EPFL), assesses the outputs and ensures that they comply with scientific standards and the objectives of the Alpine Space Programme.

Lead Partner:


Project Partners:

Business Upper Austria – OÖ Wirtschaftsagentur Ltd., Innovation and Technology Transfer Salzburg GmbH, ClusterAgentur Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavarian Research Alliance GmbH, Poly4EmI hosted by Anteja ECG d.o.o, Slovene Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, University of Franche-Comte, Veneto Region – Research, Clusters and Networks Unit, Veneto Innovazione, PROPLAST, Cluster Technologies for Smart Cities & Communities Lombardy Foundation, Autonomous Province of Trento, Trentino Innovation Hub, Lombardy Region Government

Additional Resources

Project Website : 
Youtube Channel:

Project Overview April 2018: Bersier, J. and Keller, M. (2018). S3-4AlpClusters Transformative Activities for Regional Development - Project Overview.

Working Paper October 2018: Foray, D., Keller, M., Bersier, J. and Meier zu Koecker, G. (2018). Transformative Activities for Smart Specialisation: Considerations on a Workshop Methodology. Working Paper EPFL, HES-SO HEIA-FR, ClusterAgentur.

Working Paper November 2018: Keller, M., Reingruber, I., Dermastia, M., Bersier, J. and Meier zu Koecker, G. (2018). Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) and Clusters – An Innovation Model for Transformative Activities. Full Paper for the Austrian EU Council Presidency Conference on “Impact of Research and Innovation Policy at the Crossroads of Policy Design, Implementation and Evaluation”.

S3-Innovation Model 

Alpine space industrial Cluster's networks: paving the way for Europe 2020

The Alpine Space economy is largely based on manufacturing SMEs and clusters are a powerful tool to enhance competitiveness. The establishment of transnational clusters networks is a step forward to favour cross-border cooperation although poor awareness of the potentialities from the addressees and the lack of self-sustainability in the medium and long term are still real barriers.

AlpClusters2020 aims to contribute to the design of an integrated policy approach for the support of transnational clusters networks at ALPINE space level, in order to:

  • Facilitate the emergence of new industries, enhancing the resilience of Alpine industrial ecosystem
  • Track and valorise the achievements of the previous supported initiatives, assessing their impact
  • Animate a deep and intense participatory process through which private and public relevant actors can take part in the design of future actions
  • Support policy development process, exploring the synergies and suggesting joint actions toward 2020.

Lead partner Italy

Veneto Innovazione S.p.A, European Policies Department

Project partners Italy

Piedmont Region, Directorate of Industry and Productive Activities


Clusterland Upper Austria, Plastics-Cluster


Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum der Steinbeis Innovation GmbH 




Science and technology centre of the Canton of Fribourg

Web site link:


Le projet ALPS4EU est basé sur les clusters de quatre domaines (énergie et technologie verte, mécatronique et ingénierie, chimie et nouveaux matériaux et les technologies de l’information et de la communication) qui collaborent au niveau transnational de l’arc alpin dans le but d’accroître leur compétitivité. Les activités du projet s’adressent aux décideurs politiques ainsi qu’aux managers des clusters. Les priorités, les lignes directrices et les programmes en communs des clusters devront être mis en place à l’aide d’une cartographie stratégique. La promotion des clusters permettra un meilleur transfert de technologie dans l’avenir ainsi qu’une force d’innovation accrue dans les activités inter-clusters. Des mesures concrètes de soutien aux clusters dans le processus d'internationalisation et dans la coopération entre les clusters seront effectuées par l'établissement d'un méta-cluster ainsi qu'une augmentation de la visibilité internationale.

Partenaires de projet
  • Regione Piemonte
  • Unioncamere Piemonte
  • CESTEC S.p.A.
  • Veneto Innovazione S.p.A.
  • MFG Badenwürttemberg
  • Steinbeis-Europa-Zentrum
  • Standortagentur Tirol
  • Jožef Stefan institute
  • Soca Valley development center
  • Chambre du Commerce et d’Industrie Nice Cote d’Azur
  • Région Rhône-Alpes
  • Pôle Scientfique et Technologique du Canton de Fribourg
  • Euresearch

Téléchargement: Brochure du projet