East Netherlands


Vanguard Initiative updates

Vanguard Initiative covers several interesting developments from the Pilots, the High Level Director’s meeting, interesting events that will be organised during the autumn and much more:

  • Network updates
  • Pilot updates
  • Task Group updates
  • News from member regions

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On the brink of the summer break, the Board looks back on a very fruitful first half of 2021. Due to COVID, we have still been working remotely, which has given us the opportunity to develop our digital way of working together. On 17 June, this resulted in our second digital High Level Directors Meeting (HLDM). It was possible for more actors from the regions to attend and interact, and we are keen to take forward the lessons learnt for our future development. At the same time, we do hope to be able to meet you all in the autumn again.
In 2021, we welcomed a long awaited second member of staff at the Secretariat, who is active in communication. The Vanguard Academy has started, organising in-depth sessions on relevant topics. And thanks to a lot of effort from the Communications Task Group the new Vanguard Initiative website was launched, as well as setting up a new digital way of working together. The Pilots are preparing for the new European funding programs, including the I3 (interregional Innovation Investments) programme and as the Vanguard Initiative, we participate in the expert group of this programme. The Vanguard Initiative has also taken steps towards several high-level partnerships with the relevant Horizon Europe partnerships – an important step in connecting the regional dimension in these partnerships. 
Looking forward, in the autumn a scoping of the S3 2.0 strategies of the regions within the Vanguard Initiative will take place. And with an open call, we will boost the development of our network with new initiatives. We encourage all members to submit proposals that fit the criteria before September 6th. 
From the Board, we wish you a good summer and you are welcome to contact us with any questions or thoughts about our network. Please contact us via the Secretariat or directly contact Vera Leonhart.

  • On 17 June, the directors from the Vanguard Initiative’s member regions met online for the High-Level Directors’ Meeting (HLDM) of 2021.
  • The Vanguard Initiative keeps building relationships with other organisations and the European institutions. During the HLDM we met with Ms. Ulla Engelmann, Acting Director of Networks and Governance, and Ms. Fabienne Gautier, Head of Unit EU and place-based Innovation Ecosystems, from the European Commission, as well as Željko Pazin, Executive Director, European Factories of the Future Research Association (EFFRA).
  • The directors participated in fruitful discussions on the future development of the network and engaged with the speakers from the European Commission and EFFRA on future opportunities for collaboration, the updated European Industry Strategy, the Industry Forum and the strategic value chains.
Read more about the outcomes from the HLDM here. You can also watch the recordings from the meeting here.  
  • The Vanguard Initiative continues to play an information role regarding European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH) as they are (policy) instruments that can be of great importance to the Pilots and their participants.
  • EDIH specialisations are key for Pilots to help them find out which EDIHs will be working in the Pilots’ field of work and which ones that can be useful in terms of collaboration for implementation.
  • On 29 June, the Vanguard Initiative organised a well attended webinar in collaboration with BOWI and DIHNET projects, to support the EDIHs in defining and highlighting their specialisations.

Read more about the webinar here

  • The regions of Randstad and Wales are pleased to (re) invite you to our Vanguard Initiative Regional Conference – Connecting innovation strengths across regions: a place-based approach to stronger European industries – taking place online on Wednesday 6 October.
  • Rescheduled from last year and with an updated programme, the event will focus on Wales’ and Randstad’s collaborative work on aligning smart specialisation approaches, internationalisation and regional innovation support, with a series of presentations and case studies, including a “virtual visit” to the Compound Semiconductor Foundry in Newport, Wales.
Registration is now open, you can sign up and find more details about the programme here.




ADMA Energy Partners meet with the European Innovation Council

  • The aim of the 17 May ADMA Energy Pilot meeting was to focus on progressing the proposed ADMA Energy actions and activities for 2021.
  • The meeting took stock of the activities in the demo cases, as well as the networking activities. 
  • The meeting featured a presentation on the European Innovation Council (EIC) and the opportunities within EIC for ADMA Energy. 

Read more about the meeting here

The DOCC-OFF project presented in a webinar on digitalisation of renewable marine energies

  • The Atlantic Maritime Strategy was adopted in 2011 to support the sustainable development of the blue economy in the EU Member States bordering the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The DOCC-OFF project (Digitalisation of Critical Components in OFFshore wind turbines) was presented by the Basque Energy Cluster as an example of successful application of digital technologies in renewable marine energy.
  • José Ignacio Hormaeche advocated for the sharing of operational wind turbine data by their owners as a means of promoting digitalisation in the renewable marine energy sector. 

Read more about the webinar here

  • On 17 May, the AI Pilot organised its kick-off meeting which was attended by more than 100 participants.
  • During the kick-off, the Pilot’s activities were presented, followed by a short pitch round of the different demo-cases, planned and ongoing, within the Pilot. 
  • The meeting offered the chance for interested regions and stakeholders to get a first introduction to concrete activities of the Pilot and to identify possible collaboration opportunities.
  • On 19 July, the first Steering Committee of the Pilot will convene to officially green-light the demo-cases presented and discuss the activities planned for the second half of 2021.

Read more about the kick-off meeting here


  • The coordinators of the Digital Transformation demo-case organised a mid-term event online on 30 June to show the latest activities and progress of the demo-case.
  • During the event, the AI REGIO project was presented, with particular attention to the launch of the Open Calls, where SMEs could apply to propose the demonstration of new specific AI-driven experiments.
  • A session of the agenda was also dedicated to the next actions of the demo-case, in particular the collection of the expression of interest for the definition of new use-cases. The specific template for the proposal was presented and circulated as a follow-up of the event.

Read more about the event here


Open Steering Committee on 1 June

  • The Nano Pilot organised an Open Steering Committee on 1 June.
  • The aim of the Open Steering Committee was to stimulate the discussion among actors of various regions, showcase the recent developments in the three active demo-case and present the main activities and challenges of three new demo-cases. 
TAF-support to two demo-cases: NEMS4BIO and Nanowires for ICT and Energy Applications

  • TAF-support has been granted to the NEMS4BIO demo-case to further work on supply-chain and governance aspects in the coming months. The demo-case has advanced with a selection of 5 concrete health tech/biotech needs identified as use-cases, ranging from on-chip bioavailability assessment to continuous-flow exosome production and purification. 
  • NEMS4BIO also participated in discussions on standardisation initiatives for organ-on-chip in a PSIS workshop jointly organised by JRC and CEN/CENELEC on 28-29 April.
  • Going forward, the NEMS4BIO demo-case will target multiple financing channels including I3 and EIC to support setting up a distributed pilot line with the identified use cases as technology and business drivers.
  • The demo-case Nanowires for ICT and Energy Applications has also been granted TAF-support to further develop the interregional business plan for the ProNano infrastructure.
  • Nanowires are being developed within Region Skåne for the improvement of GaN material for power and high frequency electronics.
  • The Nanowire Demo case received the TAF-support for further development of the ProNano test and demo facility (Phase 2). ProNano Phase 2 will link regional infrastructures within the Vanguard Initiative network with a focus on the industrialisation of nanotechnology based on the needs of the industry in Europe and the needs of the small and medium-sized businesses.

Please read more about the developments within the Nano Pilot here


  • The Smart Health Pilot is one of the newest Pilots and was launched in 2021.  
  • Three new regions have joined the Smart Health Pilot during the spring: Southwest Finland, Autonomous Province of Trento, and North East Romania.
  • On 29 June, East Netherlands, lead of the democase p4 prevention in the Smart Health Pilot, organised a symposium on “Diabetes on Return 2.0” which highlighted diabetes technologies in health practice, nanotechnology for diabetes, and the impact of data-driven personalised nutrition. All partners were invited to participate in the further uptake of innovation projects on the prevention of diabetes.

The symposium can be watched here. If you are interested in learning more about the Pilot you can find the contact details of the Pilot coordinators here

Successful results from the latest 3DP Pilot Plenary Meeting
  • On 6 – 7 July, the 3DP Pilot held its 13th Plenary Meeting. 
  • For the first time ever, the dense programme was spread over two days. The event gathered more than 100 active and specialised participants from our 29 participating regions. 5 Pilot sessions (funding opportunities, pitching of new project ideas, etc.) and 10 ‘demo-case dedicated’ sessions were organised. 
  • As usual, the meeting was substantial in further developing existing projects and members found the expertise they were looking for in view of implementing demonstration projects.
  • Additionally, the meeting was a testimony of the 3DP’s intensified and agile way of working, with 5 new project ideas being pitched, a growing number of company ‘use-cases’ being presented and integrated into the demo cases, and a number of direct B2B connections being established.




Recent call for project ideas results in 5 new project ideas submitted in July 2021

  • In 2019 and 2020, following the launch of the 3DP Pilot Platform for Pitching and Implementing new cross-regional projects, 9 ideas have been pitched and developed further already. This has generated positive outcomes (B2B connections, expertise found, proposals submitted, projects generated and funded) for various project ideas. 
  •  In June 2021, a new call for project ideas was opened which resulted in 5 new projects ideas being submitted and pitched during the latest Plenary Meeting (see above).
  • As a next step, the evolution of the cases might lead to: 1) new demo cases being created as a start of a longer-term programme and/ or 2) smaller-scale projects (i.e. application-specific projects) being implemented, more limited in time even outside the scope of the current demo cases. Such evolution further establishes the 3DP Pilot as a ‘market space’ where new project ideas can be presented in view of finding the right complementary expertise and partners. 

Read more about the latest developments from the 3DP Pilot here

Vanguard Initiative participates in the first meeting of the I3 expert group
  • The first meeting of the Expert Group which will assist the European Commission in the preparation of the I3 work programme took place on 15 June. The meeting allowed for the first exchange of views on this new instrument’s draft work programme 2021-2022.
  • The Vanguard Initiative is represented by Wim de Kinderen, from South Netherlands, who has been selected among 3 candidates after an internal call was launched following the call published in April by the European Commission to establish the expert group. Giacomo Copani from Lombardy is selected as an alternate representative.
  • Written comments were prepared on the draft work programme and sent to the European Commission. The preparatory work is managed within a dedicated subgroup of the PITG, supporting the Vanguard Initiative’s representative in his assignment.
Read more about the meeting here
Vanguard Initiative and EARTO publish paper providing complementary insights on I3
  • The short paper aims to provide complementary insights for the development of the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3)  instrument. 
  • The Vanguard Initiative highly values the efforts made by the European Commission to co-design the new I3 instrument and for this reason, continues to contribute to the creation of a tool suited to respond to the needs and requirements of innovation stakeholders and capable of addressing existing barriers in interregional innovation projects.
Read more about the joint paper here


  • During spring, the Walloon Government adopted its new S3 strategy.
  • Based on an inclusive and participatory process, the new strategy defines 5 strategic priority areas and will be implemented on the basis of a totally reviewed governance setting, and improved policy mix.
  • A strong focus is put on the international and European dimensions. Wallonia will aim at enhanced participation in European programmes and networks, and in particular through the Vanguard Initiative.
Read more about the new strategy here