The European Cluster Collaboration Platform, in collaboration with the Agència per a la Competitivitat del'Empresa (ACCIÓ) and the European Commission, jointly organised the "Clusters meet Regions" workshop in Catalonia. The event took place on 14 and 15 December in Barcelona, Spain, followed by the celebration of the 30th anniversary of cluster policy in Catalonia on 16 December.
Context and Objectives
Transition for sustainability is the process that involves simultaneous changes in production and consumption systems required to respond to the current interconnected environmental, social and economic challenges (Schot J. and Kanger L., 2018). These transitions involve all the sectors of the economy, nevertheless, according to the European Environmental Agency (EEA), they are particularly relevant in three main industries: food, mobility, and energy.
What really matters is the involvement of clusters in regional economic governance, policy design and implementation at the regional level.
Regional authorities need to know their clusters and understand how they can shape, improve and effectively help in the design and implementation of regional development policies. On the other hand, cluster organisations and their members should take action and implement projects that are relevant to the economic development of their local communities. They should engage in collaboration with other European clusters in the same or related economic activities and thus complement regional assets and reinforce capacities to lead the green transition, accelerate the digital transition and build resilience.
15 regional workshops are being organised in those EU regions that expressed an interest to host such a workshop in the period 2022-23 as part of the “Clusters meet Regions” cycle.
These workshops will bring together clusters and policymakers of the EU, national, regional and local level to learn from each other how to better use clusters to strengthen industrial ecosystems, serve national/regional economic development and liaise with other regions with similar transition challenges.
The “Clusters meet Regions” in Catalonia is the 5th event of the series. It has a dual thematic focus: on one hand, it will place the spotlight on talent as a key competitive asset to ensure future competitiveness and, on the other hand, it will showcase how the transition towards more sustainable competitiveness is unfolding in Catalonia and the role played therein by clusters.
Talent is one of the main pillars of the Catalonia Clusters programme and it translates into providing specific flagship programmes training and capacity building to cluster teams. Food, Energy and Mobility are also among Catalonia’s RIS3 priorities and together these industries directly involve more than half of Catalan clusters.
The Agri-food industry is one the main engines of the Catalan economy with over 33Bn € of aggregate turnover. In addition to its relevant economic value, this sector has a strong impact on society and the environment. The sustainable transition in this domain includes challenges along the complex food value chain like the digitalization of agriculture, the way in which food is produced following circular economy criteria, or reducing the impact of food packaging and natural resource optimization.
In Catalonia, there are five clusters specifically related to food (Meat and alternative protein, Foodservice, Gourmet food, Wine, and Packaging), but it involves many others like Water Management, Digital, Optics and Photonics that are crucial for the transition process.
The energy ecosystem is at the centre of the transformation of the entire productive model worldwide and Catalonia is not an exception. The challenges generated by value-chain decarbonization and the transition towards an ideal neutral emission industry require the involvement of multiple actors and a clear bet for the clean-tech industry. This sector, which has an aggregate direct value of over 16 bn €, has multiple actors in Catalonia and three main clusters in our programme (Efficient Energy, Biomass and Water management) and the essential contribution of many others both from the point of view of the technical solutions (Digital, Advanced Materials, etc.) as well as end-user sectors like construction, mobility, or energy-intensive manufacturing industries.
Mobility is the means for people to access what they need be it the workplace, markets, education, or social interaction and, as such, it has the potential to improve people’s everyday lives.
The Catalan mobility ecosystem is particularly comprehensive including more than 400 companies and a great variety of other related stakeholders and its aggregate turnover amounts to some 30bn € (including automotive, light mobility and railway industries) and three main clusters: the automotive, railway and light mobility clusters.
However, the mobility industry is the main end consumer of energy, and the industry is the greatest in terms of CO2 emissions. With a population of almost 4 million inhabitants in Barcelona’s metropolitan area, Catalonia is at the epicentre of the transformation of the mobility sector. This transformation includes different strategic challenges such as the shift to electric mobility, and changes in the industry’s business model towards mobility as a service, etc. that are speeding up the process and the need for change.
SITE VISITS, 14 December, 14:00 – 19:30
The common approach for all three itineraries was to showcase how Catalonia is tackling the transition towards sustainability in three of its main industrial ecosystems through selected site visits and context background.
MATCHMAKING EVENT (BREAKFAST), 15 December, 08:45 – 09:45
The Matchmaking event brought together cluster organisations, business network organisations, companies, scaling-up support organisations, and investors from the EU (and non-EU COSME), countries of the European Economic Area (EEA) and countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) - with the exception of Belarus that is not eligible to participate.
The meetings scheduled were organised through B2Match. Participants had the opportunity to list their profiles in advance, make offers and book appointments. Each meeting last 15 minutes, where there will be four meeting rounds.
CLUSTERS MEET REGIONS EVENT, 15 December, 10:00 – 17:30
The agenda will follow the established concept of Cluster meet Regions series of events, including seminar programme and pitching sessions.
30th ANNIVERSARY OF CLUSTER POLICY IN CATALONIA, 16 December, 09:30 – 13:00
On 16th December the celebration of the 30th anniversary of cluster policy in Catalonia will be held from 9:30 to 12:30 followed by a networking drink.
All participants of the Cluster Meet Regions event were kindly invited to take part in the celebration of Cluster Day on 16th December.
Please find the latest version of the agenda here.
Read more in the event summary available here.
Invitation to Barcelona
Read the Input Paper focused on the case of Catalonia
Speaker's slides are available at this link.