From 22 to 24th October 2018, the region of Castilla-La Mancha welcomed partners, stakeholders, and cluster experts from ClusterFY countries, Ireland and Portugal. The University of Castilla-La Mancha hosted the event focused on the interregional cooperation, European cluster policy instruments, tools to promote clusters at regional level and the study of regional networks and roles within the cluster ecosystem. During three days, partners and stakeholders had the opportunity to get an insight into CLM industrial ecosystem, its strengths, and potential. 

The activities started off the morning of the 22nd in Toledo with an official opening by Vice-chancellor for International Relations of the University of Castilla-La Mancha, and the DG of Institutional Relations and European Affairs of the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha. Both welcomed ClusterFY partners to CLM Autonomous Community and explained how the region is building new ways of cooperation to foster sustainable growth and promote the internationalization. Afterwards, all partners attended the Steering Committee & Communication meeting to discuss the scheduled agenda. In the afternoon, all partners worked together in the first part of a workshop aimed at the Analysis of Cluster Policy Instruments in ClusterFY countries/regions.

The next day, we enjoyed some interesting study visits to companies and organizations around the region of Castilla- La Mancha. The first stop was the city of Puertollano, where the mayor of the city, welcome us at the City Council. Afterward, the ClusterFY delegation visited the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Experimentation National Center (CNH2). After that, without leaving Puertollano, we all went to Clamber, which is a regional Bioeconomy project, facilities. Next, we headed to our last stop in the city of Puertollano, the Institute for Concentration Photovoltaic Systems (ISFOC). After lunch, we went to Valdepeñas to continue with agenda. Once in Valdepeñas, the ClusterFY delegation visited Tecnobit, a high-tech company, member of the Oesia Group. After Tecnobit, the Metal Technological Center of Castilla-La Mancha (ITECAM) followed and presented us its activity as a regional cluster association, in which Tecnobit is one key player. At the end of the day, we got back on the bus for a 1-hour trip to Almagro where partners had a brief meeting to draw conclusions before dinner. So, the ClusterFY coordinator, moderated a discussion between all partners and experts to highlight the main outputs and thoughts of the ClusterFY meeting in Castilla-La Mancha.

Finally, Wednesday 24th, the day of the V ClusterFY Interregional Seminar, the central and more public event of the agenda; this time’s topic was “Building up Global Clusters of Innovation: Roles, Policies and Management Issues”. Organized at the premises of the NH Hotel in Ciudad Real, the seminar brought together the key players in the regional ecosystem, European partners and cluster experts. The seminar was divided into two main keynote presentations followed each one for a panel discussion. First of all, the ClusterFY Project Coordinator in Castilla-La Mancha addressed the more than 60 attendees and introduced the different representatives from the National and Regional governments. Both of them welcomed the audience and highlighted the national and regional ambitions to achieve a sustainable, competitive and international growth at all levels.

Subsequently, the first panel started, dedicated to cluster policies and instruments. The panelists and keynote speaker were challenged to shed light on issues such as: What is the role of the local/national agents? Can all regions follow the same roadmap? How can regions build on regional strengths?... This panel was followed by an interactive discussion with the participants. After a short coffee break, the second-panel discussion commenced, focusing on regional networks and the roles within the cluster ecosystem. During this session, the keynote speaker and the panelists set forth different perspectives and approaches on how a real cluster ecosystem should work to be successful and beneficial for every agent who composes it. Once again, this panel was followed by a communicating discussion with the attendees. The conference was closed by the DG of Universities, Research, and Innovation of the Regional Government of Castilla-La Mancha, who encouraged the attendees to start new forms of cooperation, and also to work for the dissemination of clusters, as an attractive way for business associativity.

Once the Interregional Seminar finished, ClusterFY partners took on the work of the first-day workshop ClusterFY policy instruments, lessons learned, and best practices, moderated. The second part was aimed to address the main challenges that the ClusterFY regions/countries are facing to implement cluster policy instruments while exchanging experiences and best practices with regions/countries that follow a similar track.