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STRING Project: Regional co-operation, growth and innovation

The traditional food and agriculture industry is changing and proving to be a challenging driver for innovation and growth

The Strategies for Regional Innovative Food Clusters (STRING) Project brings together European regions with the shared ambition of improving the capacity of their innovative food clusters, and enables them to meet increasingly diversified needs including the growing demand for larger quantities of food.

These partnerships, however, are often impeded in their development and thus fall short of efficient support for the innovation eco-system, and thereby hinder market access.

Regional knowledge for wider innovation

The shared bottlenecks of agro-food innovation eco-systems – which are often a result of imperfect policy instruments – encourage partners to work on regional solutions that are flexible, resilient and tailored to specific regional contexts.

All STRING regions are known for their food production traditions, which are so often rooted in local culture and identity, as well as for their innovation potentials. They are engaged in food innovation and production in different ways, but each maintains the overall objectives – including independence from their development level and strength of cohesion in their regional food sectors – of improving performance and implementation efficiency of relevant development policies and programmes.

By deepening cluster integration and creating more added value – in turn contributing to smart growth – each region will realise this ambition.

A STRING of policy instruments

The three southern provinces based in the Netherlands developed a Regional Innovative Strategy (RIS) linking societal and economic opportunities and challenges. The OP South Program was based on this with the aim of developing the region into one where innovation is the key to smart and sustainable growth.

The OP priorities are innovation (i.e. strengthening and developing RDI infrastructure, capacity and investment) and a low-carbon economy (stimulating research, innovation and the use of new technologies).

Co-operation, collaboration and community engagement

Funded by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund, the STRING Project co-ordinator, Interreg Europe has the ‘3Cs’ at its heart. Co-operation, collaboration and community engagement are incorporated into our main support services with the aim to aid understanding and critical thinking by creating space for new ideas, different perspectives and collective learning.


Interreg Europe exists to assist three types of beneficiaries:

  • Public authorities – local, regional and national;
  • Managing authorities/intermediate bodies – in charge of the Investment for Growth and Jobs programmes or European Territorial Cooperation; and
  • Agencies, research institutes, thematic and non-profit organisations – although not our main target group, these types of organisations can also work with Interreg Europe by first engaging with their local policymakers in order to identify options for collaboration.

Organisations that work with Interreg Europe must also be based in one of the 28 EU member states, Switzerland or Norway.


Any actions developed with financial support from Interreg Europe must fall into one of the following four categories:

  • Research and innovation;
  • SME competitiveness;
  • Low-carbon economy; and
  • Environment and resource efficiency.

With the pressure to ‘do more with less’, we’ve taken a streamlined approach to create actions which are much more focused and therefore offer greater chance for success.


Profile in Government Europa Quarterly, issue 25

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