20 March 2018
23 March 2018

TCI European Conference 2018, Sofia, Bulgaria

"Turning challenges into opportunities"


Delegates from over 25 countries gathered in Bulgaria to take part in the TCI European Conference, 20 – 22 March. Themed, “Turning challenges into opportunities through clusters in South Eastern Europe”, the conference became a platform for learning and sharing, a scene for knowledge and experience exchange.

In the frame of the Bulgaria’s Presidency of the EU Council, the TCIEuropean18 conference welcomed more than 130 delegates, experts and practitioners from various industries and regions all over the world.

Organised by Sofia Municipality in co-operation of Consulting Cluster Veritas and Association of Business Clusters Bulgaria on behalf of TCI Network, the TCI European Conference 2018 became an opportunity to expand the worldwide knowledge and understanding about the entire Balkan region and neighboring countries, about active and successful cluster networks, economy development and future plans for clusters co-operation.

The 3-day conference followed the agenda:

Day 1 dedicated to cluster tours, where delegates had the opportunity to choose between visits in two cities (Plovdiv & Sofia), exploring a technology park and industrial zone and learning for:

  • Technology & Innovation
  • Information and Communication Technology
  • Machine Building
  • Automotive, Transport and Logistic

Click here to know more about the cluster tours.

Further images from the cluster tours can be found on our Flickr.  Click here to see all the presentations from the conference.


The Conference was officially opened with welcoming words and remarks by Alberto Pezzi (TCI), Alexander Manolev (Deputy Minister of Economy Bulgaria) and Rosen Plevneliev (President of Republic of Bulgaria 2012 - 2017).



Being announced as "Industrial Polices" day (day2), provided a platform, where delegates experienced keynote presentations from Dr. Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit for Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship within DG GROWTH, European Commission, Dr. Peter Wostner, Head of the Smart Specialisaton Unit, Slovenian Government and Rosen Plevneliev, President of Republic of Bulgaria 2012 – 2017.

Rich in content and shared experience and values were all parallel sessions introduced across both conference days. The overall programme gathered 6 plenary sessions and more than 16 different parallel sessions with also a wide range of presentations and interactive sessions. An incredible inspiration for all delegates were the learnings provided by Ifor Ffowcs-Williams, CEO, Cluster Navigators Ltd, New Zealand, presenting “How to build a good cluster from the beginning?” and “Managing clusters initiatives”.

Interactive workshops provided advanced training on cluster management and on two of the working groups active in TCI; Madeline Smith, Head of Strategy at the Institute of Design Innovation, Glasgow School of Art and member of TCI Board of Directors presented the TCI Evaluation Group and Merete Daniel Nielsen, from Cluster Excellence Denmark and member of TCI Board of Directors presented the group on Organisational Development.

Every delegate took a copy of the special Sofia conference edition - Shared Views, a shared publication of shared knowledge, inspiration and ideas that you can find in the attachment as well.




The experience gained, and the knowledge shared during the TCI European Conference in Sofia will be certainly remembered and discussed over and over again. The gathering turned to be much more than a conference - it was a platform for networking and building new bridges.

“It was a great pleasure to host and organise this event!  As organisers, we are not only proud to bring the conference to Bulgaria and to welcome such a distinguished delegation but hope that the event will serve as one solid brick in the bridge that links us all in Europe to a shared and prosperous future. It is an honor to be part of the global cluster family and we hope we will all continue looking for new #opportunities!”, said Teodora Jilkova, for and on behalf Consulting Cluster Veritas and organizing team of TCI European Conference 2018.





Thank you all for coming! We hope you enjoyed the experience and we look forward to seeing you again in the upcoming TCI Network events!