There are various challenges and opportunities in the North Sea area in the field of sustainable energy, such as hydrogen as a fuel and the conversion of biomass into green gas. Northern Connections (NoCo) is a European partnership of 21 clusters, regions and cities in the North Sea area. Together they are working on better coordination of innovation support for entrepreneurs in the energy sector, with the focus on SMEs.
Previously, innovation support mainly took place at a regional level, the knowledge remained in-house, as it were. Through Northern Connections, clusters, regions, cities and companies can come into contact with each other to exchange that knowledge and to work together on sustainable solutions to existing challenges and opportunities. Instead of competing, we will work together to improve the economic position of the entire North Sea area.
So-called Living labs (LL) have been identified in every region. In these labs there are challenges and opportunities that require various creative and innovative solutions. The Living labs are made accessible by NoCo for entrepreneurs to test innovative solutions and products and thus prepare them for internationalization. In this way, entrepreneurs are stimulated to think about demand-driven and open solutions. During the project, measures that exist in the field of innovation support are analyzed and coordinated, so that this support becomes the same for all clusters. This will improve the innovation climate for companies and give SMEs the opportunity to collaborate transnationally.
Development Agency NHN and the municipality of Alkmaar are working together with New Energy Coalition to design the Living Lab Smart City Alkmaar and prepare it for internationalization. LL Smart City Alkmaar consists of InVesta, the expertise center for research into renewable gas and biomass, the transport of renewable gas and the application of renewable gas in the built environment. Various innovation challenges still exist with regard to production, transport and application. Challenges that cannot be solved with current partners. Northern Connections offers the ultimate opportunity to expand the network and find new partners to provide innovative solutions to our renewable gas challenges.
It works the same way the other way around: Northern Connection helps companies from the Alkmaar region to bring their innovative solutions regarding sustainable energy to the international market. Ultimately, Northern Connections creates economic growth – in particular through the creation of high-quality jobs – for the region.