The 6th edition of the European cluster conference took place during 14-16 May 2019 in the palace of Parliament in Bucharest, hosted by the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event theme was ‘Connecting ecosystems: bridge. inspire. change.’
The conference was organised by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs in cooperation with the Romanian Ministry of Economy. It gathered 450 national and regional cluster policy-makers and practitioners from industry, research and academia.
Director Slawomir Tokarski at the Directorate-General for Industry opened the conference by highlighting that “clusters can provide solutions to the challenges we face: changing economies, changing climate and changing attitudes” which corresponded to the 3 breakout session topics: Digitalisation and skills gap, Circular Europe and Shared value and social impact.
The Secretary of State at the Romanian Ministry of Economy, Călin Bodea, gave a welcome speech. After which, a high-level policy roundtable with ministry representatives from 6 EU countries (Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Spain) stressed the link of clusters with strategic value chains, supporting the scaling-up SMEs and investing in skills, while highlighting the need for trust-building to make connections work.
The conference featured 2 keynote speeches
- Bianca Dragomir, European cluster manager of the year 2016 presented 7 stepping stones for ‘clusters of change’ so they can catalyse change at speed and scale
- Markku Markkula, First Vice-President of the Committee of the Regions, emphasised the need to look at regional vale chains and innovation ecosystems and to focus on the sustainable development goals
During the 3-day event, participants also had a chance to
- listen to a panel discussion on how to stimulate strategic interregional collaboration
- take part in interactive group discussions, addressing their key needs, emerging hot topics, as well as how to master digital transformation and sustainability and to create shared value
- get an overview of the different cluster-related EU initiatives and their linkages from a session with the participation of 7 Commission directorate-generals and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology
- connect with each other during a pre-conference EU cluster matchmaking event that attracted 149 clusters and generated 369 face-to-face meetings
Following a pitching session, participants also elected Bianca Muntean from the Transilvania IT cluster as the new European Cluster manager of the year 2019. The awards for the European cluster partnerships of the year went to impact connected car (INNOSUP-1) represented by David Seoane from Fundingbox, adpack² (ESCP-4i) represented by Lubos Komarek from Nanoprogress and the European automotive cluster network (ESCP-S3) represented by Clotilde Nade from Vehicle du Futur.
Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Industry closed the event. She stressed that cluster policy is about synergies and not an isolated policy and that the conference title was fitting for the event. A brief conference videobrought the event to a close.
The last day featured a series of side events including:
- events organised by clustero (Romanian cluster association), resulting in the Bucharest declaration
- 3 partnering meetings of European cluster partnerships, organised in collaboration with EASME)
- a meeting of the Enterprise Europe Network thematic group on clusters
- a meeting of the working group on social economy and clusters of the GECES expert group
The next European cluster conference will take place in November 2020 in Berlin under the German Presidency of the Council of the EU, which will be another chance for connecting ecosystems.
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