The Inno4Sports project brings together five regions that all aim to improve the performance of innovation clusters around sport and vitality, that have emerged in various regions in the EU. In a new series we interview all the partners in the project about their goals, learnings and efforts to put sports on the map in their region. In the fifth episode we talk with Tamás Dékán of the MSE Cluster LTD. from Debrecen in Hungary.

Why did you decide to join the Inno4Sports project? 

"The MSE Cluster has been part of EPSI for about five years now, so that’s how we heard about the project. When we were asked to participate in Inno4Sports it was obvious for us we would join the project. One of the reasons this is important for us, is because we’re the only sports cluster in Hungary and one of the few in Eastern Europe. We can learn a lot by working together with sports clusters from all over Europe and the I4S project gives us that opportunity. It could also open doors for interregional collaborations between clusters and businesses. Furthermore, the project could help us in our conversations with the Ministry to further embed sports in national and regional policy."

How do you try to put sports on the map in Hungary?

"Sports itself already plays an important role in Hungary. We have a lot of good athletes in different sports. But the foundation of sports - the funding, organization, development - could be further developed. The policy making is more centralized in Hungary compared to most other European countries. The different Hungarian regions have a little less responsibility, then for example in the Netherlands or Spain. That means we talk directly with the Ministry on how to organize sport in the future. In Hungary governmental bodies are charged with accreditation. So far, we are the only company related to sports innovation with an accreditation. We can advise the government on innovation and show the differences and similarities with other countries. Together with the University of Debrecen we gain as much knowledge as possible to improve the foundation of sports."

What did you learn so far in the Inno4Sports project?

"What’s important for me, is that we would like to make innovation easier for smaller organizations. To clarify what innovation exactly is and what it means. What are the rules? What is the input and outcome? What are the expectations? We can learn this from the project partners. We’ve seen with the Cluster Sports & Technology that they have specific tools and talk about specific actions that need to be taken when it comes to innovation. The SME’s in the Netherlands are well developed, they operate independent and can really focus on actually innovating. We can learn a lot from that. Every project meeting we had so far created new ideas for me. It helps a lot that we see how different clusters work in the sports industry."

"On the other hand, we’ve also seen during this project that other regions sometimes struggle with the same issues we do. Because we are trying to fix the same problem, we can learn from each other and find answers together."

How can Inno4Sports help in reaching your goals?

"The added value of the project for us, lies mostly in the interregional collaboration. You get so many ideas from just talking to the other partners and you can discuss problems with each other. Our involvement in the Inno4Sports project will also help in our conversations with the Hungarian government. It shows that sport, vitality and innovation are important topics all over Europe. If multiple clusters and organisations work on the same issues, it will have a bigger impact when we communicate this with policy makers. All of our European collaborations can help in talks with the government."

What is the ultimate goal for the MSE Cluster?

"How we would like to reach our goals also depends on the market and development of sports. Especially with COVID-19 we don’t know how the sports landscape will look like in the nearby future. I do believe though this crisis made people more aware of the importance of sport and exercise for healthy and vital communities."

"With that being said, our main goal is to help smaller businesses and organizations develop products and services. We want to help our partners make innovations more professional and turn an idea into a product or service. With the help of the University of Debrecen we can let researchers and SME’s work together on projects. The knowledge we gain from European project like Inno4Sports we would like to pass on through the members of the MSE Cluster."

Read the interviews with the other project partners: