The 19th TCI Global Conference was held in Eindhoven, The Netherlands on 8-10 November 2016. 500 cluster practitioners, policy makers, academics and business people from nearly 40 countries and institutions like the European Commission gathered to exchange knowledge and experiences around the main conference theme "Global changes. Challenges for innovation clusters".
Hosted by TCI members Brainport Development and Wageningen UR and organized in collaboration with the TCI Network, this year's conference offered not only the latest thinking and experiences about cluster based economic development, but also introduced some innovative features allowing to learn and share in a different way.
Touring - Summit - Woking Days
The entire conference was structure in three very distinctive days in different locations. As most TCI conferences, it started off with cluster tours giving participants the unique chance to get to know first-hand innovative cluster inititives in the Brainport region. 9 different tours were run ranging from the industries that made the Brainport region famous (for example, high-tech and smart mobility) to more recent cluster initiatives, such as sports, health and the biobased economy. Participants could experience a region with many, well advanced and innovative cluster initiatives.
The second conference day, the Summit Day, offered insights into the cluster theme from new views: The international perspective on clusters where participants received insights fro the United States and Europea with Constantijn van Oranje Nassau, India with Mukesh Gulati and Russia with Artem Shadrin; Economic growth, start-up and scale-up companies and their link with clusters with Paul Hofheinz and Claire Ruskin; Latest academic thinking with Dominique Foray, Ron Boschma and Christian Ketels; The transformation of competition and its business implications with Hans de Jong, Edward Zu and Kathleen Mitford. The audience enjoyed some entertaining short breaks with George Parker, who with some tricks and fun games connected participants and gave the just acquired knowledge another twist.
The third conference day, the Working Day was exclusively dedicated to working sessions. The venue, the Hightech Campus, was a beautiful, very convenient and inspiring setting for over 45 sessions - presentations, workshops, skill labs, video sessions and networking breaks. Participants didn't have an easy task to chose among the impressive offer. The small formats of these sessions were highly appreciated allowing intensive interaction and learning on themes such as cities and competitivenes, modern cluster policy, managing learning networks or food clusters.
Food as a special theme
This year's conference had a special theme flowing through the entire conference: food. With Wageningen UR, one of the top universities researching in the field of agro, as a co-host and the importance of the agro industry for the region, it was an obvious and good choice to let participants experience the many facets of food in the framework of the conference. Food was at center stage on each of the three conference days: Mr. Onion as a conference mascot, two cluster tours focusing on food, presentations by international speakers and special food tastings during summit day, a specific track on food clusters during working day.
And of course, participants could taste lots of food beyond the frontier of their usual diet: onion ice cream, insects, a conference dinner applying sustainability criteria (such as food waste) and food truck serving inernational specialties at the end of the working day. All in all, a conference with lots of food for thought and body!
Conference app as a new networking and sharing tool
For the first time, a conference app was provided free of charge to the participants. It proved to be an excellent tool to be visible to other participants, share impressions and thoughts, consult the program and make your own agenda, interact with colleagues, rate conference speakers and sessions, win an attractive prize and much more.
Knowledge can be transmitted in many ways and the conference organizers made participants learn through hands-on experiences. Refill your energy on an oxygen bar, taste the difference of organic, dynamic organic and ordinary tomatos, make music with an innovative machine - an effective an fun way to make research and innovation projects from the Brainport region visible and unforgettable.
And, of course, the fact that all conference material is open for consultation to anyone: