ROCKET: Finding innovative technology solutions to societal challenges on Dutch-German border

The project brings together business and science communities to strengthen economic advances in research, technology development and innovation in the Dutch-German border region, between the North Sea and the Lower Rhine. The resulting innovations offer economic opportunities and provide parts of solutions to bigger societal challenges.

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A ROCKET project meeting. ©Albert Jan van de Griend A ROCKET project meeting. ©Albert Jan van de Griend

" The great interest in ROCKET shows us that initiating innovation projects under one umbrella project is the right way to go. The support of the core partners in the initiation of innovation projects is something unique here. "

Alex van Geldrop, Project Manager, Lead Partner Oost NL

Key Enabling Technologies, or KETs, provide the basis for industrial innovation and are part of Europe’s strategy to stimulate growth and jobs. Numerous highly advanced technologies of this type – including nanotechnology, photonics and microchips – are being developed in the border region between Germany and the Netherlands. To capitalise on this, ROCKET project partners came up with a framework in which KETs advancements can rapidly be turned into innovations.

Up to 11 innovation projects and six feasibility studies are being conducted simultaneously by a variety of partners. Each project’s goal is to use KETs in new products that are being worked on by SMEs. More than 40 of such market-ready products have already been developed. Cross-border collaboration is being established to foster the rapid implementation of these technologies internationally, resulting in a stronger competitive advantage for industry in the region. 

Nanotech to treat diabetes

Investments in SMEs – in the form of both time and money – are needed to harness their full potential in using KETs in a marketable manner and successfully making the transition from academia to industry. To assist SMEs, the project connects businesses, gives them appropriate knowledge, helps them find partners and, in some cases, provides financial support.

Innovations being pursued by the project focus on three areas – health, energy, and manufacturing. Pioneering health-related applications include new ways to treat diabetes with nanotechnology. Energy-focused developments are linked to efficiency, storage, conversion and transport. In manufacturing, smart and efficient production solutions are being explored. 

Project ideas are evaluated through the feasibility studies. Meanwhile, awareness of KETs is being disseminated via cross-border networks consisting of a large number of SMEs, who are encouraged to explore the possibilities they offer. 

Regional collaboration

The project has promoted SME partnerships and the sharing of knowledge and advice, through networking sessions consisting of matchmaking, cross-sectoral events and company visits. A portal for online matchmaking has been developed. While some 89 SMEs are receiving aid, 31 are being provided non-financial support.

The ROCKET project is encouraging cross-border collaboration between Germany and the Netherlands, which has previously had limitations due to cultural and language barriers and differing legislation. This is being overcome with a joint, cross-border approach to promoting new technologies. 

The combination of technology and application expertise by companies on both sides of the border is boosting competitiveness among technology developers and stimulating new markets. This, in turn, is leading to innovative products.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Regional Collaboration on Key Enabling Technologies” is EUR 9 994 868, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 4 997 434 through the “INTERREG V-A Germany - The Netherlands” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Research and innovation”.


Draft date