Innovative Sector Exchange | 2 Mers Seas Zeeën


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Innovative Sector Exchange

Priority Axis

Technological and Social Innovation

Specific objective

Framework Conditions for Innovation

Lead partner

Kent County Council


Start Date


End Date


Project budget

2 855 597

ERDF amount

1 713 358

ERDF rate



    Common challenge

    The majority of businesses in the 2 Seas area are SMEs. They employ a large proportion of the population and their growth is vital to develop the economy and boost employment. SMEs grow as they innovate and internationalise and they often request coaching and support. Innovation (process, product & service enhancement) and internationalisation (collaborations/tech-transfer) are closely linked but many SMEs lack awareness of how this can apply to their sector, regional context or in new markets. ISE's support packages are a value for money solution to help more than 500 SMEs address these challenges.

    Main Achievements

    ISE is an Interreg 2 Seas project which supports businesses from 5 regions (Kent, Hauts-de-France, East & West Flanders, and the SW of the Netherlands) with becoming more internationalised & innovative. There are 7 project partners (Kent County Council, Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, Aditec, VOKA East Flanders, VOKA West Flanders, POM & the Innovatiehuis).Together they are helping SMEs to enable them to grow their business & find international contacts.

    Since the start of the project, some 944 SMEs have benefited from various events in their regions in the form of 31 Taster Sessions which introduced innovation methods to SMEs. These were followed by 8 Sector-Focused Workshops led by sector experts from the wider partner regions and were attended by 162 SMEs.

    A series of cross-border events have also taken place bringing together businesses from the 4 countries from all ISE target sectors: Food & Drink, Mechatronics, Digital & Creative & New Materials.12 of these were part of the 'Innovation Pathway' Programme with 283 SMEs attending, making new connections & participating in bespoke activities with a focus on product pitches, networking & building contacts.

    Businesses have also gained useful insights & feedback on the potential of their products & services to fit into different European markets. Feedback from events was very positive: "the event provided help with innovation and product development" and "I just wanted to say thank you again for such a wonderful few days, the organisation was perfect and the event was so inspiring. There will definitely be some business to be done following this event."

    6 Major Innovation Events have taken place since June 2018 enabling ISE companies to find out about market trends and meet international contacts from their sector. Events included CEBIT (Hannover), JEC World (Paris), Hannover Messe, Tech Open Air (Berlin), Anuga (Dusseldorf) and Industry (Barcelona). Two more of these events will take place in 2020; Horecava (Amsterdam) and Tavola (Kortrijk).

    ISE SMEs are continuing to benefit from 1-2-1 assessments to explore their export & innovation potential. This is thanks to the diagnostic tool developed by the ISE partners. 113 businesses across the ISE regions have benefited from this tool which has provided them with concrete recommendations about increasing their innovation and internationalisation potential.

    ISE is still offering opportunities for SMEs to get involved in the project during the first half of 2020.



    VOKA Kamer van Koophandel West-Vlaanderen

    VOKA Kamer van Koophandel Oost-Vlaanderen

    Stichting Innovatiehuis

    Provinciale Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij (POM) West-Vlaanderen

    Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce

    ADITEC Pas-de-Calais (Association pour le Développement de l’Innovation et de la Technologie )


    URL / Download

    Programme of cross-border innovation workshops delivered to support SMEs as a new innovation service

    Theme: Cluster development - Innovation
    Type: Service
    Target: Business support centres and agencies - Innovation agencies - SMEs /enterprises

    Cross-border innovation guide created

    Theme: Cluster development - Innovation
    Type: Method/tool
    Target: Innovation agencies - Organisations representing SMEs - SMEs /enterprises

    'Innovation Pathway' programme delivered to help companies apply innovation techniques

    Theme: Cluster development - Innovation
    Type: Service
    Target: Innovation agencies - Organisations representing SMEs - SMEs /enterprises

    Programme of innovation taster sessions delivered to support SMEs as a new innovation service

    Theme: Cluster development - Innovation
    Type: Method/tool
    Target: Business support centres and agencies - Local, regional and national authorities - SMEs /enterprises

    Updated diagnostic tool developed to help SMEs assess innovation & internationalisation potential

    Theme: Cluster development - Innovation
    Type: Method/tool
    Target: Business support centres and agencies - Cluster organisations - SMEs /enterprises