The 22nd Annual TCI Conference took place in Antwerp in the Flanders region of Belgium from the 8th to the 10th of October 2019 – bringing together cluster focused practioners, regions, managers and academics to share knowledge. Findings from the ecoRIS3 International Action Learning Cluster Development Workshop which took place in May 2019 in Cork were presented by Dr John Hobbs during the ‘Sharing Knowledge is Helping Clusters’ session on the 10-10-2019. Whilst Dr Eoin Byrne shared the Cyber Ireland model (a key element of the Irish Action Plan) at the session ‘World Differences in Cluster Development.’

  The TCI Conference started with a series of Cluster Tours – so that participants could gain a better understanding of the key clusters in Flanders. Each tour contained presentations and site visits to key elements of each cluster. Those included were the: 

  • Agrifood Tour (Flander's FOOD)
  • Antwerp Smart City Tour (The Beacon)
  • Coastal Marine Tour in Ostend (The Blue Cluster)
  • Creativity Tour (Flanders DC)
  • Digital Logistics Tour (VIL)
  • Energy Community Tour (Flux50)
  • Health & Life Science Tour (Flanders.Health, Health House)
  • Social Economy Tour (De Kringwinkel, Arop, HERWIN!)
  • Sports Tour (Flanders Bike Valley)
  • Sustainable Chemistry Tour (Catalisti)

The theme of TCI Day 2 – was Engage / Exchange / Inspire and focused on the role of changing clusters in a changing environment. Excellent contributions on the futures of clusters within European Policy were made by Merete Daniel Nielsen, Director, Cluster Excellence Denmark and TCI Network President; Richard Baldwin - Professor International Economics at the Graduate Institute in Geneva; Joan Martí Estévez, Director of Cluster Development at ACCIÓ (Catalan Agency for Competitiveness); Christian Ketels, Chief Economist of The Boston Consulting Group at the BCG Henderson Institute; Professor Elvira Haezendonck - Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ulla Engelmann - Head of Unit Advanced Technologies, Clusters and Social Economy at European Commission.

Dr Hobbs presentation showcased the collaborative work on clustering through the Interreg Europe ecoRIS3 project, where international perspectives on cluster development from Botswana, Colombia, Ireland and South Africa were shared with ecoRIS3 partners at the Cluster Development Workshop hosted in Cork in May 2019. The workshop was also a Key Action from the SOUTH-WEST Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020 which was delivered by CIT on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation.

The policy impacts of the ecoRIS3 International Action Learning Cluster Development Workshop included:

• New Knowledge Dissemination from Cluster Policies Globally.

• Strengthening of the relationship with National Government and Southern Regional Assembly.

• Inputs into Regional policy in the area of Industry Clustering and Collaboration. Into the Southern Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy and the Regional Enterprise Plan to 2020.

• Showcasing the Cyber Ireland – Cluster Development Model.

• Announcement of New and Revised National Cluster Funding calls from Enterprise Ireland.

Dr Eoin Byrne, Cluster Manager, Cyber Ireland believes that the core message delivered at TCI 2019 is “clusters are a key element of any modern industrial policy, and through projects like ecoRIS3 this message is being shared across Ireland and Europe."

Further details on the 22nd The Competitiveness Institute’s Conference can be found at https://www.tci2019antwerp.org/program. The contributions of Dr John Hobbs and Dr Eoin Byrne at TCI can be requested via [email protected] and [email protected]