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Insights from the European Cluster Conference: Regional Development Agencies’ Strategic Position

Article written by Jip Lenssen, Project Officer

As proud consortium members of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP), EURADA participated in the European Cluster Conference on 7 and 8 May in our home turf, Brussels.

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform is an online community facilitating cluster organisations across Europe and beyond, to connect, communicate and collaborate. It is the hub for the latest news, funding opportunities and collaboration for clusters’ industrial ecosystems. For the ninth edition of the European Cluster Conference the cluster community settled in Brussels under the umbrella of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The European Cluster Conference brought together a broad range of stakeholders to discuss cluster policy priorities during 2 high-level panel sessions, 12 parallel sessions with 56 speakers and reaching over 700 participants.

This year’s conference focused on three major issues, the Green Transition, the Digital Transition and Resilience Building. The conference was opened by esteemed ECCP consortium members Antonio Novo, President of the European Clusters Alliance, Jan-Philippe Kramer, Team Leader, Data and Policy, European Cluster Collaboration Platform, Prognos, and Teodora Jilkova, International Relations & Business Development, Cluster Veritas – Services of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform. The session underlined the vital need for clusters to harmonise with the Green and Digital transition and the necessity of political backing for clusters’ success.

The warming-up session was followed by the welcome address held by European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton via video message emphasising the importance of cluster networking and overcoming cross-border barriers for fostering regional development across Europe.

Shortly thereafter, the first panel session took place on the role of clusters in boosting industrial competitiveness and building value chains. Special emphasis was laid on the key position clusters have on solving challenges posed by companies throughout Europe. The second panel discussion focused on clusters as hotspots for attracting investments. The panel members concluded that EU institutions should amplify clusters to attract investment especially to remain competitive with global competition. The EURADA secretariat recognises the unique position of Regional Development Agencies in the abovementioned statements. Both enhancing local economic growth and innovation as well as attracting investment in their regions are key activities in which both RDAs and Clusters can synergise.

The remaining parallel sessions focused on a wide range of topics such as the Green Transition, Digital Transition, Resilience Building, Skills, Funding, Technology and much more. For more information on the conclusions of these insightful sessions, please visit this website.

EURADA represented the European Cluster Collaboration Platform at their dedicated booth. It was a pleasure to engage in insightful conversations about the clusters in Europe at the booth and to connect with some of our members present such as ART-ER, IGRETEC and Oost NL. Furthermore, EURADA played a facilitating role at the conference’s Matchmaking session that saw over 800 promising meetings among various cluster stakeholders.

From discussions on the Green and Digital Transition to the need for skills and Resilience Building, the conference provided a platform for dialogue and future collaboration. The conference is indicative of the resilience and adaptability of the cluster community, aligning seamlessly with key European Union policy actions. The conference reinforced EURADA’s commitment to fostering (regional) development through collaboration and innovation. We will continue to implement these principles in our ongoing projects and future initiatives.

For more information about the European Cluster Collaboration Platform please visit the website here. For any inquiries, please contact our colleague Ivana Rae Almora.