2022 Awards – European Cluster Manager of the Year and European Cluster Partnership of the Year

Congratulations to both winners, we are looking forward to cooperating with you as ambassadors of the European Cluster Community!

The “European Cluster Manager of the Year" and “European Cluster Partnership of the Year” Awards are organised by the European Commission with the support of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP), as a unique opportunity to celebrate the achievements of cluster managers and cluster partnerships, highlighting specifically their efforts and commitment to cluster development as well as to promote and reckon the role of clusters as agents of change, steering and effectively impacting their industrial ecosystem.

The selection process to grant such awards will be organized in three phases:

  • Step 1: After the deadline for submitting applications, an expert jury will pre-select three nominees per each award category, based on the selection criteria outlined.
  • Step 2: the shortlisted nominees will have to provide a short video/teaser highlighting their achievements and outlining why they deserve such award. They will be put forward for online voting on the digital hub of the European Cluster Conference as from 14 September until 22 September 2022.
  • Step 3: The participants to the conference will also have the opportunity to cast their vote onsite, in a dedicated ballot box.

The voting will close on Day 1 of the Conference and will be followed by a celebratory Awards Ceremony, during which the winners of each Award will be announced

European Cluster Manager of the Year 2022 Award

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Kirstina Sermuksnyte-Alesiuniene has a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Politics from the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, one of the most prominent social science institutions in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region. She completed her Master's degree in European Studies at the same Institute. During her studies, she won a special scholarship for student research on the topic of New activities models of Small States in the European Union: The Case of Lithuanian "Advocacy" for Ukraine. Kristina is presently undertaking a PhD degree in Economics, scheduled to be completed in 2024, at the Lithuanian Centre for Social Sciences. Her research topic is: Effectiveness assessment model of European Union member states for twin transition (digitalisation and green deal) in the agrifood sector. She has also completed the Baltic Sea Region Cluster Manager Education course and is a lecturer of Digitalisation in the agrifood sector at the Vilnius University of Applied sciences.

For 12 years, Kristina was a team lead for developing ICT products and services in the agrifood sector, implementing technologies and cooperating with academia. She is presently the Coordinator-Director of the AgriFood Lithuania Cluster/Digital Innovation Hub (DIH): an organisation that brings together 92 members representing major research, business, and public stakeholders in Lithuania for the common pursuit of digital and green transition in the agriculture, food and associated sectors. The Cluster also implements EIT Food Hub Lithuania. In addition, Kristina has several other prominent roles:

  • Vice-Chair of Business at the OECD Food and Agriculture Committee;
  • The Chairwoman of the Labour, Social Policy and Human Resources Committee at the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists (the biggest association of bussiness in Lithuania);
  • The Chairwoman of the Agri - Food and Bioeconomy Committee at the Lithuanian Association of Industrialists;
  • Association Director of Lithuania Cluster Network, the biggest association of clusters in Lithuania bringing together more than 57 clusters with more than 770 SME's.

Kristina has been active in representing her sector and/or her country at several high-level meetings, including:

  • Employer Titular Delegate of the Republic of Lithuania at International Labor Conference 109th Session in Geneva, 2021;
  • Speaker at the High Level Roundtable with Commissioner Thierry Breton and Commissioner Nicolas Schmit on Skills for the Agri-food Ecosystem in February, 2021;
  • Speaker at the first European Startup Village Forum in 2021.

She is also a regular speaker at conferences on the topics of twin transition of the AgriFood sector and cross sectorial knowledge transfer, clusters and DIHs cooperation, cluster’s role in development of regions, women leadership, challenges to attract young talents. She speaks annually for national-level conferences (Vilnius GreenTech Forum, Lithuanian Bussiness Forum, Lithuanian Economic Forum – Davosas, Baltic Clusters Forum) and at the international level (e.g. events organized by European Clusters Collaboration Platform, European Clusters Alliance, European Commision, Smart Agri Hubs, IOF2020).

Kristina is also a participant of working groups on the national and European Union level.

"To be entrusted with the title of European Cluster Manager of the Year 2022 by the clusters community is a great honor; it is my responsibility not only to continue the work I do but also to represent the clusters and create additional value for them.

Cluster, in my opinion, is about understanding business, discovering mutual interests and relationships, forming collaborations, and creating value.

Most significantly, participate in European Commission activities to promote the importance of clusters in implementing the updated EU Industrial Strategy" European Cluster Manager of the year 2022.

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The S3FOOD is project funded under the Innovation in SMEs programme (INNOSUP-1) and is implemented by 13 partners and three linked 3rd parties from eight EU countries. The partners collaborated on the project with the aim of facilitating the implementation of innovative digital solutions in the food processing industry.

Over the course of 3.5 years, the consortium assisted more than 500 SMEs active in food processing, technology provision, and digital solutions provision. Through an effective and efficient voucher scheme, over 75 unique SMEs received financial support to realise their innovation projects.

The sustainability of S3FOOD’s outcomes and lessons learnt is ensured via the S3 partnership ‘Smart Sensors 4 agrifood’, which unites the expertise of 42 partners (clusters and research centres) from 17 regions dedicated to support the digital transformation of the agri-food industry. The ultimate goal of the partnership is to enable digitalisation of the agrifood industry in Europe to become more sustainable, resilient and human-centred.

"This is a well-earned recognition of the work we have been doing over the past three years and of the great collaboration in the consortium . It is also an encouragement to continue the good work. That is exactly what we are doing through the Smart Sensors 4 Agri-Food S3 partnership, where we already have exciting new projects in the pipeline that will be starting soon. Today a project ends but the journey continues"European Cluster Partnership of the year 2022, S3FOOD.