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Highlights of the 5th Spanish National Congress of Clusters

The V National Congress of Clusters reinforces the role of business innovation in the era of digital transformation. In 2018, the international label "Spain Cluster" will be launched. At the headquarters of the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, the V Congress of Innovative Business Groups (AEI in Spanish) and Clusters was held on 14 December 2017, with the participation of 200 attendees, among them representatives of innovative companies, clusters, AEIs and regional development and innovation agencies.

The 100 AEIs registered in a special registry of the Ministry represent more than 8,000 innovative companies, 75% of them being SMEs. They gather more than 245,000 employees, representing 13.2% of the employment generated by all Spanish SMEs. In total, they invoiced in 2016 around 28,900 million Euros.

The event was inaugurated by Begoña Cristeto, Secretary General of Industry and SMEs, and Antonio Novo, president of Clusters.es, the National Federation of AEIs and Clusters. Begoña Cristeto highlighted that "the digital transformation of the industry is the great challenge of the industrial sector in Spain, as more than 80% of the export of our country comes from the industry; in such a framework, the strengthening of the clusters must be a fundamental part of the industrial policy strategy ".

Antonio Novo pointed out to the business collaboration generated in the clusters as "the key activity for growth and business competitiveness, especially for Spanish SMEs, which represent 75% of the actors associated with the clusters”.

Mario Buisán, Director General of Industry and SMEs, reviewed in his presentation the history of the AEIs public programme, the positive evolution of a plan that has matured both in quantity and quality. In its 10 years of existence, the AEIs programme has supported more than 1,600 innovation projects targeted at the company level, especially SMEs.

James Wilson, researcher at the Orkestra Institute and TCI Network Secretary General, mentioned that "digital transformation not only affects the industry, but also the concept and role of clusters. They must adapt to new roles and areas of action and become bridges that address economic and social challenges. We will evolve towards more and more transversal clusters, for whose success it is vital to strengthen the intercluster relationships that are developed through projects. "

Fernando Valdés, Deputy Director of Digitalization of the Industry and Collaborative Environments, indicated in the conclusions of the day that "the future of the clusters will be marked by the digitalization, the national and international collaboration, the internationalization, the recognition and diffusion of its role in industrial policy, and the improvement in the evaluation of its impact on the economy. Among other actions aimed at facilitating this evolution, the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness plans to launch in 2018 the international label "Spain Cluster".

The day ended with the celebration of the General Assembly of the federation as organizer of the congress, during which the renewal of the board of directors, chaired by Antonio Novo, was unanimously approved. This board has been expanded to 16 members, thus collecting the presence of AEIs and Clusters from almost all Spanish regions.