Dear colleagues and friends,
We are very pleased to organise this 2018 TCI European Conference together with our colleagues from Sofia. South Eastern Europe has become an increasingly active part of the European cluster community. The conference will be an important opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved as well as laying out the directions for what remaining challenges need to be challenged.
Bulgaria’s Presidency of the EU Council in 2018 will be an opportunity to connect the discussions at the TCI Sofia conference with the broader debate about where EU cluster policy needs to go. Two aspects I expect the discussions in Sofia to address in particular:
First, how do cluster-based efforts need to be structured to align better with local circumstances, from the sophistication of firms to the capacity of government and the general conditions of competitiveness. Many of our members have seen the challenges in transplanting models that worked well in other regions to their location. In the EU this is a key issue, especially with EU policies providing a standard set of rules and frameworks. How can we draw on common learnings but also respond to unique local needs?
Second, how can cluster efforts become drivers of broader changes in locational competitiveness? Again, many of our members are not focused on developing an individual cluster but have the broader economic health of their location in mind. Others have been successful in developing their cluster but are faced with increasing demands from government to provide broader services outside of their cluster or region. What is the right approach to achieve broader impact while remaining anchored in the core cluster dynamics?
As always, the TCI conference in Sofia will also provide opportunities to engage with the full set of issues relevant for more effective cluster-based efforts, whether you are a policy maker, a manager of a cluster program, or a cluster initiative manager. You will find new learnings and, maybe even more importantly, new contacts to help tackle the yet unknown challenges of the future together.
Welcome to Sofia!
It is my pleasure to welcome you in Sofia on the occasion of the TCI European Conference “Turning challenges into opportunities”, 20 – 22 March 2018.
The title of the Conference is in fact a very suitable motto for our city, which has risen above its past and, thanks to our efforts, has undergone a considerable transformation during the last 10 years. In this short period, Sofia has become the European capital with the highest GDP growth, according to a study by the Bloomberg Foundation. Our city is now in the top 3 of the European cities for start-up companies in the IT sector. Moreover, Sofia has won and invested the largest amount of European funds in urban development.
Our aim is to promote it as a green, attractive, open and inclusive city creating optimal opportunities for investment, business, integration and intercultural exchange, especially in view of the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2018. The motto of our capital, as the host of major events during the Presidency, is: