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Prague, September 29, 2022 – The 8th edition of the European Cluster Conference took place between 26 - 27 September 2022 in Prague, Czech Republic. The event gathered cluster managers, policymakers, and experts from all over the European Union who discussed the latest trends in cluster policies. Its focus were the challenges concerning reinforcement of the role and added value of clusters in the implementation of the updated EU Industrial Strategy, as well as in other core European initiatives impacting industry.

Prague hosted the European Cluster Conference 2022 as part of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Focus this year was on how European clusters, including the SMEs therein, can contribute to the green and digital transition, as well as improve the resilience of the EU economy. Over 600 participants on site from around 40 countries discussed topics stemming from the updated EU Industrial Strategy and its implementation on the ground. Issues to be addressed by the Czech Presidency, above all energy security and strategic resilience of EU industry, were also in the centre of attention, with topics such as accelerating the processes of decarbonisation, digitalisation and automation of European industry.

During the 2 days, the participants had the opportunity to attend an extensive onsite exhibition gathering 30 booths , take part in debates, panels, matchmaking sessions and B2B meetings, as well as interactive breakout sessions.

EU Representatives and Czech Government Officials opened the event

In his foreword, the vice-Minister René Neděla stated: “The conference is held at an urgent time when we are facing grave challenges: impacts of the pandemic of COVID-19 followed by the crisis in the energy market roiled because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Czech Republic as a country holding the presidency of the Council of the EU feels special responsibility to find common solutions at the European level 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 solve 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, reshape 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 eventually will 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 born as 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.”

EU Cluster Conference 2022 Awards

The European Commission with the support of the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) has revealed the winners of its annual cluster awards following the votes casted online by the cluster community and then onsite by the Conference participants. The title of “European Cluster Manager of the Year” was awarded to Kristina Sermuksnyte-Alesiuniene, cluster manager of AgriFood Lithuania. During the event, Kristina Sermuksnyte-Alesiuniene mentioned: “Clusters are stepping in with new activities, roles and tasks to strengthen value chains. If we need to create cluster policies or attract government attention, we need to show the value they bring to the table.” The “European Cluster Partnership of the Year” was awarded to S3Food, a project facilitating the implementation of innovative digital solutions in the food processing industry.

About the European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP)

The European Cluster Collaboration Platform is a vibrant online community helping cluster organisations across Europe and beyond to connect, communicate and collaborate. It provides a unique one-stop-shop for news, opportunities and collaboration for industrial clusters across Europe, boosting the visibility and showcasing the impact of European clusters in cutting-edge industries and expanding markets throughout the world.

Source: European Cluster Collaboration Platform