East Netherlands


East Netherlands successfully concludes chairmanship of Vanguard Initiative

Regional alliance strengthens European cooperation and innovation

The East Netherlands concludes its chairmanship of the Vanguard Initiative with the presentation of the 2022 annual report. The alliance of 39 advanced European industrial regions focuses on connecting initiatives and strengthening European value chains. The two years of chairmanship included among other things the launch of the I3 instrument, the awarding of I3 projects for the benefit of SMEs in the East Netherlands ánd the involvement of the region in designing an interregional financing instrument.

The Vanguard Initiative is a network of 39 of Europe’s most advanced industrial regions aimed at boosting industrial innovation and building European value chains. In doing so, the regions benefit from each other based on complementarity in smart regional specialisation strategies (RIS3). Besides the East Netherlands, the Randstad and southern provinces are also Dutch members of the initiative.

By connecting innovation ecosystems and sharing knowledge and facilities between member regions, the Vanguard Initiative facilitates interregional cooperation, encourages interregional innovation investments, strengthens open innovation and accelerates market introduction of new products and technologies in Europe.

“I am proud of what we have achieved in the past two years as chair of the Vanguard Initiative. We have put the East Netherlands on the map as an innovative region, exploited funding opportunities for our regional SMEs ánd built industrial innovation together with European project partners. The first steps towards a green and smart European industry are being taken close to home, namely in the region.” says Eddy van Hijum, Regional minister for Europe, Economy and Finance of the province of Overijssel. In recent years he chaired, on behalf of the East Netherlands, the Vanguard Initiative. 

Chairmanship results: approval of I3 projects and preparation of interregional funding instrument

One of the successes of the Vanguard Initiative was the successful lobbying for the I3 instrument. A new European instrument for the development of new interregional value chains that contribute to energy transition, circular economy and digitalisation. The Vanguard Initiative regions were successful in landing a large number of I3 projects. The East Netherlands also seized that opportunity. Four I3 projects started in 2023 with the participation of companies and knowledge institutions from Gelderland and Overijssel. These include innovation projects in the fields of hydrogen, healthcare, 3D printing and sustainable textiles.

The Vanguard Initiative also has a seat at the table in the Committee of the Regions and the Joint Research Centre’s Partnerships for Regional Innovation. As a result, the regions, including East Netherlands, are at the forefront of shaping the European Regional Development Fund for the next funding period 2028-2035.

In addition, in 2022, the Vanguard Initiative launched a voucher programme for SMEs called ‘SME Success Stories’. A support scheme aimed at identifying and supporting strong and compelling interregional SME success stories in the Vanguard regions. Besides matchmaking with an innovation partner from one of the other Vanguard regions, a one-off innovation support voucher was awarded to the SME consortia. The Overijssel-based Bond 3D was one of last year’s ‘Success Stories’.

Pilot results: solutions for SMEs

Pilot projects, also known as pilots, are one of the core activities of the Vanguard Initiative. These pilots bring regions and their stakeholders together to create solutions for regional SMEs. East Netherlands has also been able to connect the opportunities of these pilots with SMEs. East Netherlands is a member of the following pilots: Efficient & Sustainable Manufacturing (ESM), High Performance Production through 3D printing (3DP) , eNano-Enabled Products, AI and Smart Health. More information on the pilots can be found on the Vanguard Initiative website.