More than 150 participants from 17 countries, representing the European Commission, national and regional authorities, policy makers and cluster practitioners attended the ‘Clusters in Europe IV – How can we draw from the lessons of past to secure future success?’ international cluster conference between 30th November to 1st December in Budapest, organized by the Hungarian Ministry for National Economy for the fourth time.
The goal the conference was to give an overall picture about the European cluster scheme from the beginning to the present, focusing on the triggers and driving forces in different countries, regions that initiated a new network based approach in Europe. On the other hand, the event aimed at identifying the “future treasures of networks” based on previous experience and to find the role of the human factor behind successful networks. The conference was opened by the welcoming words of Mr Balázs Rákossy, State Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry for National Economy of, Ms Eszter Vitályos, State Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office of Hungary and Mr Thomas Bender, Head of Unit, European Commission, DG REGIO. They highlighted the importance of cooperation and the role of clusters in the economic system and in different strategies; summarized the last 20 years’ history and the present state of clusters and main goals and the factors of success for the future both in national and European level.
The first day of the conference was divided into 4 blocks. In the first two blocks the participants gave an overview on the evolution of the first national and European cluster policies from the very first steps in the early 1990s to 2017.
One of the keynote speakers, Mr Christian Ketels, President of TCI Network gave an overview on the evolution of European clusters. Following him, Mr Reinhard Büscher, former Head of Unit, European Commission, DG GROW gave a comprehensive and informative presentation of current European regulation. In the second block different countries from Spain, France, Denmark and Austria, as pioneers in cluster policies, presented the last decades of growing cluster networks and the main tasks of developing the policies to make the leading clusters more and more better and to develop the political and legal background for starting new ones.
In the afternoon blocks the treasures of future networks revealed. More presenters highlighted on the importance of multi sectoral complex clusters which are based on the regional diversity and specializations but thanks to the connections the members get an access to non-local resources and a very wide range of capabilities as well. In the last block the speakers highlighted the importance of human factor as one of the most important elements to bring a cluster to success. As the conclusion of the first day after a deep knowledge on the beginning there were inspiring presentations and discussions on developing the cluster policies.
In the second day of the conference the audience parted into four parallel panel discussion.
At the Cluster and SME perspective after 2020 especially in V4 countries panel, the panelists discussed the main tasks for the following programming period and framed the needs in support from the European Commission.
The Cross Clustering–From Cluster to Cluster through Business to Business / from Human to Human to Money to Money panel tricks were shared to keep the productivity of the cluster members alive and some success and failure stories to learn from.
The clusters can help to support supply of the professional employee for SMEs which is a crucial problem in the Eastern and Central European counties and more urgent in the present environment, determined at the Industry 4.0 and Smart Specialization Strategies panel.
At the fourth panel, the diversity based on the special characteristics of the regions revealed as the main area for more effective improvement of clusters. And of course as the title promised the co-speakers mentioned as an advantage to have the „SHE” factor in a cluster management, because diversification can be interpret under the male-female scope as well.