Clusters have key role to play in European recovery, says Commissioner Breton

Submitted by Lee Gibson on 10 November 2020

European Commissioner Thierry Breton has hailed the response of clusters to the COVID-19 crisis and stressed the key role they must play in creating greener, digital, and more resilient industrial ecosystems across the continent.

The Commissioner for the Internal Market was speaking at the start of the two-day European Cluster Conference, organised by the European Commission and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, and delivered by the European Cluster Collaboration Platform.

“This event illustrates how important collaboration and clusters are for our economy, now more than ever,” he said, recalling how clusters had rallied to manufacture and distribute medical equipment at the start of the pandemic.

“In just one week they gathered more than 1,100 offers from 3D printing companies for masks and ventilators and despatched them locally to hospitals. For me it was a clear demonstration of how agile, flexible and creative clusters can be.”

These qualities, insisted Commissioner Breton, mean that clusters are in an ideal position to lead the European green and digital transitions and help to develop essential industrial and economic resilience as Europe recovers from the impact of COVID-19.

“We have in Europe around 250 specialised green tech clusters," he said. "They are focused on developing and bringing to the market innovative solutions. We need more of them.

“This decade will be Europe’s digital decade, which will require the uptake of digital solutions by everyone – every company, every region of our Union.

“Clusters need to stimulate and support the widest possible uptake of digital technologies. By 2025 we want to double the share of companies using advanced cloud services and big data.”

Commissioner Breton added that the COVID-19 crisis had highlighted the need to develop greater economic resilience across all sectors and ecosystems.

“Clusters have real-time intelligence on economic and technological development, they can detect supply and value chain disruptions and act on them, and they also build bridges between ecosystems across Europe in joint cluster initiatives.

“Together we are strong, connected we are resilient and autonomous.”

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