How Eureka Clusters keep reinventing ­themselves

Valérie Blavette

In order to effectively foster innovation, the Eureka Clusters, including CELTIC-NEXT, are constantly innovating themselves. This is why we are currently setting up a new Eureka Clusters Programme that increases synergies between Clusters. This new programme was designed during the former Dutch Eureka Chairmanship and is being implemented during the current Austrian Chairmanship, whose motto is ‘‘Towards a New Eureka’’. It is impressive to see how an Intergovernmental organisation that was created in 1985 is so dynamic, flexible and future-looking to enhance collaboration at a global scale.

It was decided to set up a new governance structure for the Eureka Clusters Programme, which is based on new bodies for representing both the Public Authorities and the Cluster communities, as well as to facilitate dialogue between the industry and the national funding bodies.

New governance for better public-­private dialogue

For enhancing the public-private dialogue, the Public Authorities Committee (PAC) has been set up at director’s level with representatives of over 20 countries at the time of writing. In addition, the Clusters Committee (CC) has been formed, with three industry representatives of each Cluster.

The kick-off meeting of the ECP programme took place on 15th October. In the meeting, the PAC and CC members discussed the importance of the Eureka Clusters for their respective company, industry and community as well as some strategic and topical priorities.

CELTIC-NEXT is represented by Vincent Marcatte, Orange Vice President, Julie Byrne, Nokia Head of Partnerships and David ­Kennedy, Director of Eurescom.

At the time of writing, the new Public ­Authority Committee (PAC) had already gathered 19 participating countries, chaired by the UK.

Agreeing on strategic priorities

When industry and the Public Authorities will agree on some strategic topic, it will be reflected in the Multi-Annual Plan (MAP) of the ECP. When the MAP will be finally approved in June 2021 thematic calls among a set of clusters or at individual level will be decided for the next four years, starting with the most urgent ones. Among the topics and challenges high on the agenda of both the Public Authorities and the PAs are AI, Green Deal, Cyber­security and Beyond 5G/6G.

Denmark and South Korea have proposed a new joint Cluster call on “Technology driven Green Transition” that could take place already in the transition period with projects funded already in 2021, if enough countries can join.

The Central Coordinating Function and the CC Support Group

The new ECP will be supported by the Central Coordination Function (CCF) that will be half funded by the PAs and half by the clusters. Nadja Rohrbach, who has been working at the Eureka Secretariat in charge of Clusters since more than two years, seconded by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), has been in charge of the CCF from the PA side since last summer.

The Cluster Committee will be assisted by a Support Group, where CELTIC will be represented by Jari Lehmusvuori from Nokia, ­Antonio Cuadra Sanchez from Indra Minsait, Peter Herrmann, Celtic Office director, and the CELTIC-NEXT Chair.

CELTIC-NEXT and the Eureka Clusters AI call

CELTIC-NEXT paved the way for the new ­governance during its Inter-Cluster Spokespersonship. We started seizing the opportunity of AI being high on the agenda of both industry and a number of Public Authorities by setting-up the first AI call jointly organised by CELTIC-NEXT, Eurogia, ITEA, PENTA and Euripides. It was both a collective challenge and an educating experience. A new cluster tool and portal had been developed by Eurescom specifically for this first joint call.

The clusters attracted 16 countries who gave their financial support to that call including Singapore, which is new in Eureka. By mid-June, when the call ended, we received 41 valid project proposals.

For this first joint call it was decided to synchronise label and funding decisions wherever possible. The supporting Public Authorities agreed to participate to a pre-consensus and a consensus meeting where the decision to label / fund projects from all clusters was examined, taking into account the evaluations both from the cluster tech­nical experts and from the PAs.

Finally 16 projects were labelled and a quick path for funding of those projects has been explored by the countries.

Open to the verticals and to challenges

The Eureka Clusters keep innovating, and CELTIC-NEXT is open for more joint initiatives and challenges that advance European and global innovation in the smart connected world domain. For our autumn call we organised once again a joint call with Eurogia, the Cluster on low carbon energy. In mid-September we had an exciting joint proposers day with over 200 registered participants, and a new brokerage tool. This is just one example for a converged industry effort including
the verticals, which shows how CELTIC-NEXT contributes to the new Eureka Clusters Programme.


After two years of dense activity as CELTIC-NEXT Chair, I am now required for a new position inside Orange.

Through my roles as CELTIC Chair and Inter-Cluster Spokesperson, I have been happy to contribute to increasing the interest of the Public Authorities towards CELTIC-NEXT and Eureka Clusters in general.

As for me, I will still participate as CELTIC-NEXT Core-Group member from Orange.

Last but not least, I wish all the best to my successor and to CELTIC-NEXT!