Cluster organisations play key role across many European regions in delivering innovation and regional development objectives. Earlier this month, on 1-2 December, over 300 cluster policy makers gathered in Brussels to discuss the latest policy developments and trends. The conference was organised by the European Cluster Observatory on behalf of DG GROW and with support of DG REGIO.

The main themes addressed during the two-day event concerned the function of clusters in supporting industrial modernisation and interregional collaboration notably through joint project initiatives developed within the context of Smart Specialisation Strategies. Keynote speakers included Marc Lemaître, Director-General for DG REGIO, who used three key-words to describe the future role of clusters: "Innovation, Acceleration and Collaboration" to participate in creating the framework conditions for economic growth in the EU.

Colin Wolfe, Head of the Competence Centre Smart and Sustainable Growth at the DG REGIO, participated in a roundtable discussion on how clusters can facilitate interregional cooperation. Experts and case studies provided insights into concrete examples of Interreg Europe projects such as the ClusteriX2.0, ClustersS3 and CREADIS3, which help regions make use of the expertise and knowledge found in cluster ecosystems to support collaboration. Other speakers illustrated the role clusters play in driving innovation, for example through the creation of new industrial value chains, and how cluster organisations can connect technology providers and technology adopters across regions.

Policy makers urged cluster organisations to be more proactive in creating synergies between the different programmes. For example there is great potential for clusters to engage with the Smart Specialisation Platform on Industrial Modernisation. Indeed, shaping smart industries in the EU is closely linked to smart specialisation, which is the aim also of the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform on Research and Innovation. The conference concluded with a call for action to ensure continued support for clusters from European, national and regional stakeholders in recognition that clusters are a "smart way to work together in different sectors and different parts of Europe" and engage with regional SMEs.

Further details about the conference and the presentations can be found on the European Commission's website.

The Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform is here to stimulate knowledge exchange. The projects of the same family will be encouraged to learn from each other. To fine-tune the services and products of the platform to the user needs, we encourage you to share your ideas with Andrea Di Anselmo, [email protected], Thematic Manager for Research and Innovation.

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