The latest ECCP Clusters meet Regions workshop celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Cluster Policy in Catalonia
On the 14 and 15 December 2022, the European Cluster Collaboration Platform, in association with the Agència per a la Competitivitat del'Empresa (ACCIÓ) and the European Commission, together organised the “Clusters meet Regions” workshop in Catalonia. The event was held alongside the celebration of the 30th anniversary of cluster policy in Catalonia on 16 December. Over 100 participants from 20 countries representing clusters, SMEs and public/regional governments joined the workshop.
The event took place in Barcelona, and focused on talent and sustainable transition, both of which are considered key assets to boost Catalonia’s competitiveness today and in the future. Talent is one of the main pillars in Catalonia's Clusters programme, and as such panellists from the region and beyond discussed its importance in the successful development of cluster policy. Representatives from the food, energy and mobility clusters had the chance to showcase their success stories and share best practices. These ecosystems are among Catalonia’s RIS3 priorities and together directly involve more than half of Catalan clusters.
On 14 December, the event kicked off with a mobility itinerary around Barcelona. Participants had the chance to visit Casa Seat and Renfe to gain insight into this strategic sector. The main challenges for the mobility industry are sustainability and decarbonisation processes, and the presence of new actors and means of transport. To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, it is essential to increase the usage of electric vehicles, and both Casa Seat and Renfe are working on innovative solutions to achieve this objective. Seat are developing an app to help users carshare, and Renfe another app to plan trips by train. At the end of the itinerary, participants joined a sustainable and organic dinner at Veritas. The agri-food industry is one of the main engines of the Catalan economy, making a strong impact on both society and the environment. Veritas is an ecological brand based in Catalonia and active all-around Spain. During a presentation, participants learnt about the brand, its sustainability goals, and its positive impacts on the planet.
The second day started with a special matchmaking breakfast gathering with 20+ participants, mainly from the agri-food, mobility, and energy sectors. The focus was on talent as a key driver for future sustainable competitiveness, and on the opportunity to find new collaborations. During the event, three rounds of C2C meetings took place.
The opening session of Clusters meet Regions was addressed by Mr Albert Castellanos, Secretary for Business and competitiveness from the government of Catalonia. He reminded those in attendance that this year Catalonia celebrates the 30th anniversary of cluster policies in the region, and that the commitment to excellence of their clusters is what makes them able to adapt and evolve. They have been essential for the region in delivering satisfactory outcomes and bringing common values to the region’s productive systems.
“There is no better scenario to cooperate than when there are disruptions… and this is now,” said Mr. Castellanos.
Ms Ulla Engelmann, Head of “Industrial Forum, Alliances, Clusters” unit at the European Commission (DG GROW), highlighted the historical milestones achieved by Catalonia over the past 30 years, and how the region should be used as an example of good practices at European level. During her speech, she spoke of the SME Emergency Package and mentioned the upcoming “SME Relief Package”, which will include initiatives such as: combating late payments to secure cash flow, facilitating businesses in the Single Market, and access to finance & skills.
Ms Marta Batalla Massana, Policy Officer of the “Industrial Forum, Alliances, Clusters” unit at the European Commission (DG GROW), explained that the “Clusters meet Regions” aim is to facilitate the implementation of good practices and to boost collaboration between clusters organisations. She explained the different initiatives set up by the European Commission to support clusters and connect them, including Euroclusters and ECCP services.
Dr. Jan-Philipp Kramer, Head of EU Services at Prognos and member of the ECCP, presented the newly published Input Paper on the Catalonia region, saying that: “Catalonia is [an example of] best practice at European level when it comes to cluster policy and its development. There are 41 clusters organisations registered on the ECCP and they cover all 14 industrial ecosystems.”
Mr Joan Martí, Director of the Business Strategy Unit at ACCIÓ, explained their approach to attracting talents and how clusters can have a key role in identifying the professions of the future. He explained the T-shaped training approach, which gives more attention to horizontal skills such as strategic vision and leadership, than to sectoral expertise, which according to him can be gained after 2 years of working in a specific field/sector.