Smart Specialisation with Smart Clusters

Short bios


Mauro Trapani


Mauro Trapani is Chief Executive of the Economic Development Sector in Veneto Region. He is responsible for all the financial and administrative activities supporting the companies in Veneto. He coordinates the activities of the Regional Directorates linked with the European Funding. Since 2009 he is member of the Joint Technical Commission for the implementation of fiscal federalism.


Prof. Dr Dominique Foray


Dominique Foray is Full Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), he holds the Chair of Economics and Management of Innovation (CEMI) and serves as Dean of the Management School at EPFL. He is a member of the Science Council of Switzerland (SSC), chairman of the board of the Swiss Economic Research Institute in Zürich (KOF) and a foreign member of the Center of Capitalism and Society (Columbia University, New York). From 2008 to 2016 - he was a member of the National Research Council (Swiss National Fonds). Between 2013 and 2016 he was a member of the Expert Commission for Research and Innovation (E-FI) of Germany. From 2008 to 2011, he served as chairman of the expert group “Knowledge for Growth”. This is during his service as member of this Group that he developed the concept of smart specialisation (together with P.A. David and B. Hall) that is now a key policy mechanism of the EU (cohesion policy).


Peter Berkowitz


Peter Berkowitz is Head of the Competence Centre for Smart and Sustainable Growth in the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy in the European Commission. This unit is responsible for coordinating work withjn the European Commission on smart specialization and regional investment in innovation, environment, energy, climate change, transport and digitalisation.  From 2008 to 2016, he was Head of Unit for Policy Development, including the preparation and negotiation of the Commission's proposals for the reform of Cohesion Policy 2014-2020. During his career in the Commission he has worked on enlargement, CAP reform and rural development.


Prof. Jacques Bersier


Since 2003, Prof. Bersier has been the deputy director of the « Haute école d’ingénierie et d’architecture de Fribourg » (HEIA-FR) member of the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland (HES-SO). He is also Director for Applied Research and Development. He obtained diplomas in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1975, 1978) and a diploma in Business Informatics at the University of Fribourg (1994). In 2005 he launched and has coordinated the Swiss Plastics Cluster, followed in 2009 by the Science and Technology Centre of the Canton of Fribourg (PST-FR). Since 2009 he is an affiliated member of the Center for Competitiveness of the University of Fribourg and from 2014, a member of the EUR-ACE label committee, representing the Swiss Agency of Accreditation and Quality Assurance (AAQ). He is lead partner of the Interreg VB projects S3-4AlpClusters and AlpLinkBioeco.


Michael Keller


Michael Keller is an economist at the School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg, affiliated to the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland, where he currently works as Lead Partner of the two INTERREG Alpine Space projects S3-4AlpClusters and AlpLinkBioEco. He graduated in economics and social sciences at the University of Fribourg, where he is an Affiliate Member of the Center for Competitiveness. He served as member of the Board of the European MoC Chapter, a regional chapter of Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter's Microeconomics of Competitiveness network, from 2013 to 2014. From 2015-2016 he served as Assistant Editor of the Competitiveness Review, an academic journal published by Emerald. He has published on competitiveness, clusters and innovation and co-authored multiple policy reports for both private and public institutions. Since 2016 he is a Visiting Professor at LIUC – Università Cattaneo.


Prof. Rudolf Koopmans


Rudy Koopmans is Director of the Plastics Innovation Competence Center (PICC) in Fribourg (Switzerland) carrying out research on renewable plastics and plastics processing (www.picc.center). He is director of the Institute for Applied Plastics Research at the University of Applied Science in Western Switzerland and a lecturer at ETH Zürich. Before this he was an R&D Fellow at the Dow Chemical Company.



Gerd Meier zu Köcker


Dr. Gerd Meier zu Köcker, General Manager of the ClusterAgentur Baden-Württemberg and the Founding Member of ESCA (European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis). Over the last 15 years he has led cluster and innovation projects all over the world, mainly in Europe, Africa and Asia. During the recent years, he was actively involved in developing National Innovation Strategies, like Egypt or Kosovo. In more than 60 publications, he has widely written about cluster development, innovation and regional economic development policy. He a frequent speaker and gave many guest lectures at universities world-wide (e. g. Harvard Kennedy School, National University Singapore, etc) and is currently teaching cluster management at the University for Applied Science in Kehl. He is serving several Advisory Boards and Scientific panels on national and international level (OECD, EU, Member States etc).


Prof. Laurent Larger


Laurent Larger has an academic carrier as Professor in Physics at the University of Franche-Comté. In June 2016, he temporarily paused his teaching and research activities (on complex photonic system, chaotic behaviour of light for chaos-based encryption in optical fiber networks, photonic brain-inspired computing for new artificial intelligence processors, optoelectronic microwave oscillators for Radar applications), when he was nominated as director of the FEMTO-ST institute. FEMTO-ST is one of the largest French academic research institute in Physical and Engineering Sciences (260 professors and researchers, 240 PhD students, 50 postdocs, 200 engineers technicians and administrative staff). As institute director, he is facilitating the research framework at the local and national levels, he is promoting its excellence worldwide, he is organizing the training framework of the related scientific knowledge and technological know-how through an international graduate school (EIPHI), and encouraging also the innovation and transfer of the research results toward the industry (he is the president of a private non-profit internal Foundation created in 2013 to boost innovation and transfer in the institute). S3 is one practical mean used at FEMTO-ST to develop innovation and transfer together with the spin-off of the institute. During the last four years, five such S3 projects have started.


Iris Reingruber


For 12 years, Iris Reingruber has been working as project manager at Business Upper Austria – OÖ Wirtschaftsagentur Ltd., first in the dept. ‘strategy & programmes’ and now in the dept. ‘cluster & networks’. She has been involved of European projects in the field of innovation and cluster strategies and has long-standing experience in linking strategies and operational implementation. Currently she is engaged in the project S3-4AlpCluster and the European Region Danube-Vltava. Before entering Business Upper Austria, she worked in the private sector for 20 years after graduating at the commercial college in Linz.


Luca Mion


Luca Mion has over 16 years of international experience in innovation management and consulting, technology transfer and ventures, investment readiness assessments, business development, industrial policy and innovation policy acquired in consulting firms, business organizations and authorities. Currently Head of Innovation and technology transfer at Hub Innovazione Trentino (HIT), chairman of the Investment Expert Group at the European Commission (DG RTD), member of the Action Group 2 of the EUSALP macro-regional strategy and leader of the Digital Industry subgroup, member of the board of the National cluster on Smart Living Technologies, member of the technical committee of the regional Digital Innovation Hub. He holds a PhD in Industrial Information Engineering, a MSc in Electronic Engineering and further specialized in innovation and IP management.


Simone Weiss


Simone Weiß is a project manager for regional, national and European funding programmes at Innovations- und Technologietransfer Salzburg GmbH. Over the last 8 years, she has supported and consulted companies and institutions from Salzburg with the setting up of their projects to develop innovative new products and services. She is the regional contact point for Horizon 2020 and the Enterprise Europe Network and has been involved in various European projects since her start at ITG Salzburg. One of her core responsibilities is to help innovative regional companies to grow internationally and to promote the visibility of Salzburg as an international business destination. Simone Weiß holds an MA in Economics from Salzburg University of Applied Science, a Diploma in Foreign Trade and a Bachelor degree in Psychology from the University of Hagen.


Mateja Dermastia


Mateja Dermastia, CEO of Anteja ECG, has 27 years of professional experience in the area of innovation and competitiveness policies and strategies. She has worked on the design, implementation, and evaluation of technology-based development projects.  Her long-term managerial experience is reflected in her leadership of both public and private institutions. She has served as State Undersecretary in the Government of Slovenia, CEO of the Center of Excellence for polymer materials and technologies, member of the TCI board, member of Advisory Panel for Innovation in Agriculture in Africa (sponsored by Gates Foundation) and as a member of various international expert committees and groups on competitiveness, clustering, innovation policies, and bio-based industries. In last years, she has been extensively involved in assisting development initiatives focused on the transformation of industries towards sustainable growth models that overlap economic, social and environmental dimensions. These efforts involve development of bio-based value chains, business models, the engagement and empowerment of women in leading positions and governance. She led projects for WBG, EU and was involved in several consulting assignments in some of 30 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, the US, and Latin America. She has written extensively on value chains, clusters, and innovation. Initially trained in biochemistry, Mateja has a Masters in Economic Sciences and has obtained an executive education from the Harvard Kennedy School in the area of science and technology for development.


Prof. Franco Bonollo


Prof. F. Bonollo is Full Professor of Metallurgy and, since October 2018, is President of the School of Engineering of Padova University. His research activity is focussed on light alloys, foundry processes and their simulation, innovative welding techniques, and published in about 250 scientific and technical papers. He has been coordinator of the EC Leonardo Pilot Projects COPROFOUND (on Numerical simulation of Foundry Processes) and METRO (Metallurgy courses with e-learning methodologies), of StaCast Project (New Standards in Aluminium alloys) and of EIT-RM Project 4L-Alloys (Education on Recycled Aluminium alloys). He has been the Scientific Manager of the research projects NADIA and MUSIC, related to innovative applications of Aluminium alloys in the automotive field. He is responsible of several industrial research projects, carried out in cooperation with Italian and European industrial Companies and with Regione Veneto. He coordinates SINFONET, the Innovative Network for Foundries of Regione Veneto.


Heidrun Hochreiter


Since 2017 Heidrun Hochreiter has been working as responsible cluster manager for the Food Cluster at the Upper Austrian Business Agency. Already from 2000 up to 2005 she took care for building up and managing the Upper Austrian Food Cluster in the Upper Austrian Chamber of Commerce. She has been involved in several European projects in the field of innovation and food strategies and has long term experience in linking strategies as a systemic coach. Heidrun is holding a Master´s degree in food engineering and biotechnology.


Gorazd Jenko


Gorazd Jenko has more than 27 years of experience working in different public institutions in Slovenia out of them 21 related to EU affairs/policies; he has been namely involved already in Slovenian accession process to the EU which successfully ended in 2004. He is currently employed as a senior expert at the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy of Republic of Slovenia in the Cohesion Policy Department, Unit for Smart Specialisation. Being already three financial perspectives involved in negotiation process of the EU Cohesion Policy he is well familiar and directly involved in latest developments on EU ground of Cohesion Policy also for 2020+. He has profound experience with programming, implementation and management of Structural funds in Slovenia, with special emphasis on European Social Fund, Human Resources Development and Labour Market being also responsible for preparation of Slovenian Operational Programme for Human Resources Development 2007 – 2013. At that time, he has been also Head of ESF Unit at Government Office for Local Self- Government and Regional Policy and before that from 2002 till 2006 Head of Unit for Education and Labour Market within the Ministry of Labour Family and Social Affairs. Since 2015 his main responsibility is related to Slovenian Smart Specialisation Strategy (S4) in which skills and Human Resources development play significant role as well. Besides being responsible for Human Resources development part of S4 he is responsible also for 2 priority areas of S4 – Sustainable Food production and Sustainable Tourism and as a contact point on government side to stakeholder’s governance body – Strategic Research and Innovation Partnerships (SRIPs). He is a member of wide range of domestic, EU and other bodies (i.e. ESF Committee) related to Human Resources Development, skills, ALM policies


Philip Pfaller


Philip Pfaller is Scientific Officer in the Unit of Socio-economic Sciences & Humanities | Security Research of the Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFOR). Since 2016, Philip is part of BayFOR and the Bavarian Research and Innovation Agency (https://www.research-innovation-bavaria.de/). After an internship at BayFOR, Philip started to work as a Scientific Officer and became project partner of the Interreg-(B)-Project "S3-4AlpClusters". His experience reaches from developing and managing European RDI projects (in Horizon 2020, Interreg etc.) to the challenges of establishing Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) in European regions. Before joining BayFOR, Philip has been affiliated to the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich (LMU) where he wrote his PhD on a theory on the thinking and speaking about cognitively represented situations.


Christian Salletmaier


After various professional engagements in teaching and R&D Christian Salletmaier has worked with the Regional Government Office of Salzburg since 1993. Since 1996 he has been head of the unit Regional Development and EU Regional Policy. In 2016 he was appointed deputy head of the department for Economy, Tourism and Municipalities.
His competencies include the development and coordination of regional innovation strategies, of regional and cross-border ERDF-programmes and a responsibility for regional labour market policy. Since 2000 he has been managing authority for the EU Interreg Alpine Space programme.
Christian Salletmaier holds an MA and PhD from Salzburg University and an MBA from Salzburg Management Business School.


Merete Daniel Nielsen


Merete Daniel Nielsen is CEO of Cluster Excellence Denmark and President for the global TCI Network. For the last 15 years she has acted as expert and leader in cluster and innovation projects at regional, national and international level mainly in Europe. She is the co-founder of Cluster Excellence Denmark established with the aim of supporting Danish clusters on competence development, professionalisation and internationalisation. Today Cluster Excellence Denmark is considered as best practise on cluster support in Europe. Serving as President for the global TCI Network she is helping members from 110 countries around the world to improve their knowledge and competences on competitiveness, clusters and innovation. She is a frequent speaker at international conferences and has written widely on regional development, clusters and innovation.


Ivan Boesso


Ivan Boesso is responsible of European Policies in Veneto Innovazione S.p.A., the Veneto Region company for research and innovation, working with SMEs and local public administrations, universities and research centres to support implementation and development of the regional innovation system. 
Graduated in electronic engineering, he collaborates with Veneto Innovazione in supporting SMEs, the development and implementation of research and innovation policies, services to support knowledge transfer and development of the Regional Innovative Networks. He is currently involved also as a referent in some National Technology Clusters initiatives.


Denny Schüppel


Denny Schüppel is head of project and knowledge management at MAI Carbon | Carbon Composites e. V. During the past years, Mr. Schüppel has been in charge of the MAI Carbon excellence cluster program, in which 36 joint projects with a total volume of € 80 million have successfully contributed to the establishment of carbon as a material on the market. Mr. Schüppel also initiates and evaluates other project programs, such as Campus Carbon 4.0, MAI Carbon's international projects and the Joint Industrial Research Program. As a graduate engineer in mechanical engineering/composite fiber materials, Mr. Schüppel has worked intensively on the topics of LCA, recycling and recovery, Class-A surfaces (Daimler AG) and crash simulation of CFRP.



Christina Bauer

Christina Bauer graduated in law and economics. She is deputy head of the unit regional development and EU-cohesion policy of the Government Office of the Land of Salzburg. Since more than 15 years she has been working in this field. Christina Bauer is head of the managing authority of the Alpine Space programme.



Rita Steffanutto