The theme of the conference was “Constructing Place-based Competitiveness in Times of Global Change”. A lot of attention has been given to firm- and cluster- level strategies for competitiveness and strategies for ensuring sustainable competitiveness and development.
Hosted in a part of the world renowned for building competitiveness strategy; the conference also offered an opportunity to share and reflect on the competitiveness trajectory of the Basque Country, a Spanish region with strong tradition, experience and results in cluster and competitiveness policy. Delegates had the chance to explore some of the region’s innovative clusters – renewable energy, machine tools, wine and tourism … – and unique experiences such as the city regeneration of Bilbao or the cooperative organization of Mondragon.
Cluster Tour around Renewable Energy
The Basque Country has a long tradition in energy production. These well-established Basque firms maintain a leading role in new traditional energy projects and are at the forefront of innovation in the sector. Projects range from wind energy to electrical vehicles, from modernization of traditional refineries to wave energy R&D projects, and from gas developments in re-gasification and combined cycles plants to electric smart grid projects. A combination of public-private partnership has enabled this development of new industries and new companies in the energy field.
Energy in the Basque Country is a dynamic and competitive industry that consists of more than 350 companies that generate a total turnover of over 44,000 million € and direct jobs for over 68,000 people. About 35% of this turnover and total employment rate is originated in the operations of these companies in the Basque Country, while the remainder comes from its international activity.
Reception at the Iberdrola Tower
Committed to the environment, the Iberdrola Tower shall boast one of the maximum certifications in the prestigious LEED CS 2.0 Certification and it is the first tower to be built in Spain with those special characteristics.
Demonstration of projects related to intelligence in electricity networks (Smart grid)
Iberdrola is the leading energy group in Spain, the world leader in wind power and one of the largest electricity companies in the world. Having successfully completed the first stage of the STAR project (Remote Grid Management and Automation System) Iberdrola has started to extend roll- out to all of the regions where it has an electricity distribution grid.
Presentation of IBIL (Electric charge management system)
IBIL, manager of electric vehicle charging is the first load manager that focuses on fast charge with national coverage.
Visit to the wave energy plant in Mutriku
The plant, which has a capacity of 300 kW from 16 turbo-generator sets, is the first of is the first of its kind operating with multiple turbines in the world. Nestled at the entrance to the harbor of Mutriku, it is based on “Oscillating Water Column” (OWC) technology and is now close to completion and connection to the power grid.
The next 3 days were dedicated for the conference; fully packed with Plenary Sessions (4) and Workshops (34); below is a list of the workshops that were mostly beneficial for the BCC:
Experiences in inter-cluster collaboration
Key factors for success in cluster management
Creative & cultural industry clusters
Branding of clusters for improving competitiveness
Cluster excellence management training
The highlight of the conference was the intervention by Professor Michael Porter live from Harvard with a select panel present in the audience including the vice-president of the World Bank amongst others.
Michael Porter’s book the Competitiveness of Nations was the catalyst behind the launch of the TCI Network in which he is very closely involved.
His main observation was that there was no need any more to prove the importance and the necessity of firms and other entities to cluster; the new challenge is around inter-cluster collaboration and internationalization as well as smart specialization.