European Cluster Conference 2022
The Czech Ministry for Industry and Trade under the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, and the European Commission organized the 8th edition of the European Cluster Conference from the 26 to 27 September 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic with the support of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP). This event was a unique opportunity, bringing together cluster policymakers, managers, practitioners, and other stakeholders. The Conference focused on challenges relating to how to reinforce Clusters' role and added value in the implementation of the updated EU Industrial Strategy, as well as in other core European initiatives that impact the industry.
Prague hosted the European Cluster Conference 2022 as part of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Over 600 participants from around 40 countries discussed topics relating to the updated EU Industrial Strategy and its implementation on the ground. Other important issues need to be addressed by the Czech Presidency related to energy security and strategic resilience in the EU industry, with topics such as accelerating the processes of decarbonisation, digitalisation and automation.
The Conference was centered on cluster policies and initiatives concerning building resilience and the concrete implementation of green and digital transitions in Europe’s value chains. The event was also used to discuss how clusters can contribute to the rollout of Transitions Pathways in various industrial ecosystems, making clusters the core actors of change, in line with the updated EU Industrial Strategy.
After a fully virtual edition in 2020, the 2022 edition was an opportunity for the cluster community to meet again in person. European Cluster Conferences have taken place every two years since 2008, each one having a different theme, enabling participants to focus on different priorities. During this conference, the participants had the opportunity to attend an extensive onsite exhibition and take part in debates, panels, matchmaking sessions and B2B meetings, as well as interactive breakout sessions.
The conference objectives were:
- to discuss the latest trends in cluster policies with high-level discussions on the challenges needing to be addressed in the post-pandemic context and how to make better use of clusters, particularly in relation to the roll-out of Transition Pathways
- to express views on how to efficiently address supply chain disruptions in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- to showcase the results of EU cluster initiatives and actions such as Euroclusters, Cluster Excellence, Internationalisation, supporting SME Innovation, Industrial Modernisation and Smart Specialisation
- to encourage synergies, exchanges and interactions between policy-makers, practitioners and experts at the European level
- to elect the European Cluster Manager of the Year and award the prize for European Cluster Partnership of the Year
EU Matchmaking event in Prague
The year 2022 conference kicked off with a physical Matchmaking event on the morning of 26 September. This side event allowed participants to explore trade, investment and partnering opportunities and to develop connections between Europe’s value chains and ecosystems. The participants used a dedicated framework to find potential business partners at all stages of the supply chain. They were then invited to look for future project partners or specific products or services for their organisation.
The Matchmaking event brought together a total of 197 participants, including 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. The event resulted in over 500 bilateral C2C meetings.
To find out more about the Matchmaking event and the preparatory webinar, please visit the designated webpage and watch the highlights video.
The exhibition was opened before the official start of the Conference and remained open throughout the event.
The opening ceremony was hosted by Jozef Síkela, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, and Maive Rute, Deputy Director General DG GROW, European Commission. The opening also included a guided tour for the press and VIPs.
The exhibition consisted of 30 e-booths, including some from the European Commission about its initiatives on clusters, European Cluster Associations and Partnerships, multiple prominent clusters, and national cluster associations. To see the full list, please head to the agenda.
EU Representatives and Czech Government Officials opened the event
The official start of the conference has been scheduled for 14:00 CET. In his foreword, the vice-Minister René Neděla stated: “The conference is held at an urgent time, we are facing grave challenges: impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic followed by a crisis in the energy market due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The Czech Republic, as the country holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, feels a special responsibility in finding common solutions at the European level for how to manage the crisis and reduce the negative impacts on European enterprises and citizens.”
Marian Piecha, Czech Deputy Minister of the EU Funds and Digital Economy emphasized the role of clusters: “Flexibility and cooperation are critical to solving common EU problems, for the common European Interest. Clusters are a great tool for cooperation, bringing people together and are especially useful in supply chains”.
Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit Industrial Forum, Alliances, Clusters, DG GROW, explained what the current priority is: “Clusters have proven in the recent COVID crisis how powerful their networks can be in adapting to new requirements and reshaping value chains – the power of clusters can be utilised even more in the current environment. The goal of transition pathways represents an action plan for the transition of industrial ecosystems that will eventually lead to project pipelines, co-created by the EU Commission, Member States and relevant stakeholders. Priority is given to ecosystems and sectors that urgently need to transition to remain competitive, like energy-intensive industries and construction, as well as crisis-affected sectors, like tourism and mobility.”
Jakub Boratynski concluded: “Cluster policies and programmes are created in an effort to boost the competitiveness of a given territory. A policy usually goes through different stages, its prominence fluctuates in the political agenda and ultimately it evolves.”
Please find below a list of speakers where you can also download their presentations.
- Marian Piecha – Deputy Minister, EU Funds and Digital Economy Section
- Jozef Síkela - Minister of Industry and Trade, Czech Republic
- Jakub Boratyński - Director for Networks and Governance, DG GROW
- Tor-Arne Bellika - CEO, Innovation Performance AS
- Irene Burroni - Manager, dID – Technological Cluster for Interiors and Design
- Mateja Dermastia - CEO of Anteja
- Bianca Dragomir - CEO, Valencian Cleantech Cluster AVAESEN
- Vendula Doubravská - Manager, Zlín Creative Cluster
- Ulla Engelmann - Head of Unit for Industrial Forum, Alliances and Clusters, DG GROW
- Virginie Fermaud - Coordinator, EU-Japan Regional & Cluster Cooperation Helpdesk
- Christopher Frieling - Director Advocacy and Public Policy, SEMI Europe
- Barbara Gibbon - Director-General, Global Innovation Clusters programme
- Karel Haegeman - Joint Research Centre
- Simone Hagenauer - Project Manager Clusters, ecoplus
- José Ignacio Hormaeche Azumendi - General Manager, Basque Energy Cluster (Asociación Cluster de Energía, ACE)
- Donato Iacobucci - Professor of Applied Economics, Università Politecnica delle Marche
- Dimitri Ionescu - Founder, of LightMirror
- Mervi Karikorpi - Head of EU Innovation and Industrial Policies, Technology Industries of Finland
- Anaïs Le Corvec - Network manager, Council of European Bioregion
- Ségolène Leloutre - International Partnership Director, Cosmetic Valley
- Mattia Marino - Project Officer, Eurochambres
- Solène Meissonnier - Project Director for European Policies, Directorate-General for Enterprise
- Merete Daniel Nielsen - Director, Cluster Excellence Denmark, President TCI Network
- Antonio Novo - Managing Director, Cluster IDiA
- Anders Olsson - Manager, Smart Specialisation, Region Värmland
- Marc Pattinson - Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform, Senior Research and Innovation Expert
- Bram Pauwels - Manager of Strategic Partnerships, EBN
- Tero Piispanen - Senior Executive, HealthTurku
- Marek Przeor - Team Leader – Cluster Policy, DG GROW
- Marc Rechter - Co-Founder & CEO, MCPV
- Ingrid Rigler - Deputy Head of Unit Innovation and EIT, European Commission
- Thomas Röhr - Secretary General, European Automotive Cluster Network
- Lucia Seel - International cluster expert
- Lars Visbech Sørensen - CEO, Food & Bio Cluster Denmark
- Kristina Šermukšnytė-Alešiūnienė - AgriFood Lithuania Cluster Manager
- Sandra Sundbäck - CEO, Paper Province
- Olga Trofymova - Cluster Manager, Ukrainian Automotive and Mobility Cluster Director of Internationalisation, Ukrainian Cluster Alliance
- Mantas Vilys - Coordinator, Enterprise Europe Network and European Digital Innovation Hub
- Birgit Weidel - Head of Department Innovation Ecosystems, SMP/Entrepreneurship and Consumers, European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), European Commission.
All presentations are also available as a compilation:
European Cluster 2022 Awards
The evening was dedicated to the awards ceremony. The awards: “European Cluster Manager of the Year" and “European Cluster Partnership of the Year” were organised by the European Commission, with the support of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP), as a unique opportunity to celebrate the achievements of cluster managers and cluster partnerships. These awards highlight the efforts made towards and commitment to cluster development, as well as, the promotion of the role of clusters as agents of change that impact the industrial ecosystem.
Participants of the Conference had the chance to vote for this year’s winners, selecting their favorite candidate from the shortlisted nominees. The first round of votes took place online from the 14 - 22 September. Then the shortlisted nominees’ videos highlighting their achievements became available on the digital hub of the European Cluster Conference. Participants then voted for their favourite during the Conference. The winners of the two awards were announced during the Awards Ceremony on the evening of 26 September.
The ECCP would like to congratulate this year’s winners once again:
- Kristina Sermuksnyte-Alesiuniene (iFood Lithuania) - European Cluster Manager of the Year 2022. During the event, Kristina stated: “Clusters are stepping in with new activities, roles and tasks to strengthen value chains. If we want to create cluster policies or attract government attention, we need to show the value they bring to the table.”
- S3FOOD - European Cluster Partnership of the Year 2022. This project is dedicated to facilitating the implementation of innovative digital solutions in the food processing industry.
On the second day, participants were offered the opportunity to meet some clusters from the Czech Republic on their own premises:
- Mechatronics Cluster - a platform for cooperation specialising in areas such as additive manufacturing R&D. The site trip included visits to the Welding School – a long-standing training and certification institution with unique well-equipped workplaces, and COMTES FHT – a private research organisation, which, thanks to its top laboratories and researchers, significantly contributes to the development of R&D topics in manufacturing processes.
- Nanoprogress (Nanotechnology) and Clutex (Technical textiles) clusters. The site visit to the two clusters in the Liberec region included guided tours through the Institute for Nanomaterials, Advanced Technology and Innovation (Cxl) and Centre for the Development of Engineering Research (VÚTS). The participants were acquainted with top-class R&D and industrial infrastructures, as well as, the unique equipment of the Nanoprogress nanotech lab.
- Czech Optical Cluster: A presentation and visit to the premises of the HiLASE (Hi-tech laser research center focused on industrial applications) and ELI Beamlines (leading laser research centre and part of the Extremeight infrastructure). In addition, guests were able to see the laser laboratories and visit the laboratories.
- Czech Implant Cluster: A visit to a medical cluster focusing on implantology. It included a visit to the Czech SME Beznoska with a tour of the production facilities specialising in R&D, design and manufacture of implants, tools and surgical utensils for orthopedic surgery and traumatology.
- CIIRC CTU - Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics - the visit included a guided tour of the Testbed for Industry 4.0. The Institute is currently applying to become the home of the European Digital Innovation Hub in Prague, specialising in AI.
For a creative and engaging recap of the speeches given at the Conference, please have a look at a compilation of graphic recordings by Alex Hughes from Drawnalism.
Get a feeling for the atmosphere of this year's European Cluster Conference by having a look through the photo gallery with all the event's most memorable moments or by watching our highlights video:
and other video interviews.
The ECCP team is honoured to have been a part of the European Cluster Conference 2022. It was an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of clusters and cluster organizations for transforming Europe’s economy. With such initiatives, we aim to continue drawing attention to the active role of clusters in developing Europe’s value chains in three main directions: building resilience, and driving green and digital transitions.