20 March 2018
23 March 2018

TCI European Conference 2018, Sofia, Bulgaria

"Turning challenges into opportunities"


The 2018 TCI European Conference took place the 20-22 March 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The purpose of #TCIEurope18 was to encourage the exchange of knowledge and information among cluster practitioners and regions in the scope of international co-operation. Delegates were invited to observe presentations from industry specialists, challenge business experts on issues of shared interest to every organisation and engage in lively discussions. Industry experts could share information, exchange best practices and develop business opportunities at many occasions during the conference.

More than 130 practitioners from 26 countries coming from cluster organisations, public agencies, industry and universities met to discuss under the theme "Turning challenges into opportunities", organized by TCI Network on behalf of Consulting Cluster Veritas of Bulgaria and Association of Business Clusters in co-operation with the Sofia Municipality.

The conference participants came from Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Kazakhstan,New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and UK.

At the  #TCIEurope18, Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship at European Commission, presented European cluster policy and initiatives and discussed with some TCI Board of Directors members new ways on strengthening links and creating opportunities for clusters. She also presented new initiatives for 2018-2019 and made an open invitation to join the European Cluster Week.

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 to show the value of collaboration and to explain the upcoming events of the group.

The organisational development group was presented by Merete Daniel Nielsen, from Cluster Excellence Denmark and member of TCI Board of Directors.

The programme of the conference gathered 6 plenary sessions and more than 15 parallel sessions, and was divided in two main topics: Challenges (Industrial policies) and opportunities. Different themes were discussed, such as "What has been achieved in Eastern Europe so far and what remaining challenges need to be challened through clusters", "Where EU Cluster Policies need to go", "How do cluster-based efforts need to be structures to align better with local circumstances." "Smart specialisation, role of clusters in talent & Investment attraction" ,"Transitioning from Traditional to Modern sectors.", "Shared values promoted through clusters", "Building capacities for clusters, ten buidling blocks for managing a successful cluster" and more.

High-level keynote speakers shared their opinions and their knowledge around the different themes and offered an opportunity to discuss about where EU cluster policies needs to go. If you would like to watch and download the presentations of the conference, click here.

Thank you all for participating!





A full day of a TCI European Conference 2018 was dedicated to site visits to examples of active clusters in the region. Cluster tours reflected the achievements and also the problems faced by the cluster and give valuable insights to the participants on how they are organised and perform.

Participants were able to see Bulgaria's and Eastern Europe opportunities and potential for clusters, as well as to visit leading cluster firms and interact with cluster teams and their collaborative projects in the region.

Click here to know more about the cluster tours.






The TCI 2018 European Conference also offered a wide range of networking and match-making opportunities, accompanied by a conference gala dinner in the National Palace of Culture.




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!