Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Shaping smart Industries discussed at European Cluster Conference 2016 with over 300 stakeholders

Shaping smart Industries discussed at European Cluster Conference 2016 with over 300 stakeholders
Published on: 02/12/2016
The fifth edition of the European Cluster Conference was held in Brussels on 1-2 December 2016. The conference focussed on the theme 'Clusters 4.0: Shaping Smart Industries'.

More than 300 national and regional cluster policy -makers and practitioners from industry, research and academia from all over Europe gathered at the event, organised by the European Commission's Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. 

The conference was jointly opened by Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission, Marc Lemaître, Director-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission and Lambert van Nistelrooij, Member of the European Parliament.

Irmfried Schwimann highlighted the important role that clusters are playing as favourable ecosystems to turn start-ups into scale-ups. She flagged out that this was also highlighted in the new Start-up and Scale-up Initiative adopted the week before by the European Commission.

The recently established Smart Specialisation Platform on Industrial Modernisation was highlighted as another important initiative in the context of this conference to boost interregional cluster collaboration and investment by Irmfried Schwimann and Marc Lemaître.

The conference featured 3 key note speeches:

  • Professor Slavo Radosevic from the University College of London stressed the link between clusters and global value chains
  • Professor Scott Stern called for moving from smart specialisation to smart acceleration of entrepreneurship
  • Christian Ketels from the Harvard Business School/ European Cluster Observatory presented the results of the European Cluster Panorama 2016 in an interactive format quizzing the participants

Participants discussed how to use clusters to respond to the new industrial challenges through:

  • facilitating cross-sectoral value chain
  • fostering internationalisation
  • boosting interregional investments
  • accelerating entrepreneurship and skills upgrading.

These discussions took place during 4 parallel sessions. Further feed-back was gathered from participants using electronic voting.

All 4 sessions featured practical cases, a ‘hard talk panel’ and participatory ‘world café’-style group discussions on the challenges and solutions for cluster policies and cluster organisations to address these topics. They covered the themes of ‘Advanced and digital manufacturing’, ‘Green manufacturing and the circular economy’ and ‘Service innovation and the creative economy’.

At the event, participants elected Bianca Dragomir from the Avaesen Renewable Energy Cluster in Spain as the European Cluster Manager of the Year and ‘Energy in Water’, represented by Pieter de Jong from the Netherlands, as the European Strategic Cluster Partnership of the Year.

The event was closed by Lowri Evans, Director-General for the European Commission’s Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. She highlighted in her closing remarks the transformational energy of the conference and the importance of working together and drawing on the experience of clusters as motors for change by bringing together industrial, regional and innovation policy. A short conference video brought the event to an end.

The conference was preceded by the biggest EU Cluster Matchmaking Event, organised by the European Cluster Collaboration Platform on 30 November. It attracted 114 clusters from 21 European countries and generated over 500 face-to-made meetings.










To find out more about the European Cluster Conference 2016:

To find out more about the EU cluster matchmaking event organised on 30 November 2016: