The European Commission’s Directorate General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs organized the European Cluster Conference 2016 in Brussels on the 30th of November – 2nd of December 2016. This year's conference focused on Cluster 4.0 – Shaping Smart Industries and include high-level plenary speeches, panel discussions and interactive sessions where participants had the chance to share their experiences and challenges. Parallel discussions took place in four priority areas related to industrial modernisation, namely smart manufacturing and digital transformation, the circular economy, key enabling technologies, and creative and data-driven services. The parallel discussions were all covered the same key horizontal topics in different sessions. These include the role of clusters in boosting the innovation uptake and growth opportunities through strengthening cross-sectoral value chain linkages, strategic European partnering, international collaboration and skills towards shaping smart industries.
Trends and priorities for cluster policies and cluster organisations in Europe were discussed in interactive ways. The European Cluster Observatory presented its 2016 European Cluster Panorama and the latest information on cluster support initiatives in relation to industrial modernisation were shared. The Model Demonstrator Regions, the European Strategic Cluster Partnerships – Going International and other cluster initiatives shared their lessons learnt. The Conference also let participants have their say on who to select for the 2016 European Cluster Manager of the Year Award and the 2016 European Strategic Cluster Partnership of the Year Award.