DIGICLUSTERS was aimed at speeding up industrial modernisation of agri-food packaging sectors towards Industry 4.0 by Cluster-Facilitated X-Industry Hackathons.
The project supported the creation of European Strategic Cluster Partnership for smart investment to foster the collaboration of enterprises, esp. SMEs, and their interaction with technology centres. It stimulated the generation of joint actions and investment projects in common smart specialisation priority areas linked to industrial modernisation (esp. SMEs in Industry 4.0) to help improve business environment.
The project gathered 7 partners from 4 countries – Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Spain. It assembled 6 traditional and high-tech clusters and an innovation centre representing 739 SMEs total.
The pioneering approach used start-ups methodologies (hackathons) to boost cross-sectoral, cross-border and cross-cluster cooperation between high-tech (especially biotech and ICT) and traditional (agri-food & packaging) clusters to create new value chain linkages and empower digital innovations across Europe.
The project was addressed to:
- cluster organizations as facilitators of collaboration;
- SMEs as crucial engines for growth and job creation;
- R&D and technology centres as knowledge and technology generators;
- regional authorities & policy makers responsible for shaping and implementing RIS3;
- startups & acceleration programs, incubators providing trainings, mentorships or funding for innovations;
- other innovation ecosystem actors that contribute to mobilising linkages across Europe to speed up industrial modernisation and Industry 4.0 development.

Resources needed

DIGICLUSTERS employed about 16 experts under full or part time contracts and cooperated with external experts in the areas of advanced technologies, mentoring and facilitation activities. Financing was based on COSME Programme – ESCP S3.

Evidence of success

- 34 challenges collected
- 4 regional X-Industry hackathons, 27 collaboration cases solved
- 1 international X-industry hackathon, 13 companies (ICT+food) working on 7 cases
- 34 projects submitted with budget of 75+ million EUR
- 112 matchmakings in 4 countries
- 4 study visits, 1 bootcamp
- 15 agreements with supporting partners
- 1 X-Industry Accelerator to continue development of X-industry hackathon model
- 1 best practice handbook
- 1 recommendations handbook for policy makers

Difficulties encountered

- Different level of digitalization and use of Industry 4.0 in consortium member states
- Agri-food & packaging sector is still to be digitized to provide less hand work in production process
- To change leadership management approach and mindset, led by example and make the change actually happen

Potential for learning or transfer

SMEs need agile methods to react quickly and flexible to unexpected changes. The Cluster-Facilitated X-Industry Hackathon model is a tool to help companies to incorporate digital innovations and create new cross-sectoral links with connected industries.
The model is sharable and replicable and could be used in other industries, regions or countries to stimulate multilevel collaboration. It also supports linking the existing and emerging value chains and pushing intraregional and interregional innovations to boost new value chains across borders. Taking into account that companies and their employees have different level of digital competences, the model could be used to seek both incremental and disruptive innovations.
Main institution
Agrifood and Bioeconomy Cluster AgroBioCluster
Mazowieckie, Poland (Polska)
Start Date
October 2018
End Date
March 2020


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