Sep 12, 2019 at 1: 23 pm

Clusters of Change – Europe’s First Cluster Accelerator Program – An Interview with Bianca Dragomir



The new European Cluster Accelerator Programme is a 4-day event is funded by EIT Climate-KIC, a body of the European Union.

During the event, participants will get to work on their own cluster challenges in a workshop style learning setting. At the end of the programme, they will have learnt the crucial keys to cluster management, how to build innovation ecosystems for systemic change, and how to apply practical tools and innovative methods to specific cluster/ecosystem needs.

The program fits anyone who is focused on turning their regional ecosystem into a hotspot for entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainable development.


We are here with Bianca Dragomir, European Cluster Manager of the Year. Bianca, what is the the CAP?


The CAP is the first European Cluster Accelerator Program, launched in partnership with EIT (European Innovation Technology Institute) Climate – KIC, which is the  Knowledge Innovation Community that specialises on climate change-related innovation. Another partner is Provadis Business School, based in Frankfurt.

The program is based on the market intelligence I’ve gathered as the European Cluster Manager of the Year since 2016; from working with regional governments & agencies from all over Europe, and my work as a Cluster Manager at AVAESEN – the Valencian Cleantech Cluster, in Spain. This is also based on the work that I’ve done advising the Commissioner for Industry and the Vice President of the Commission for the past two years.

Through my interviews and discussions, formal and informal, with cluster managers, practitioners, innovation leaders and governments, I have detected the need to take European clusters to the next level. There is a huge, exponential, technological change coming. Clusters need to adapt in order to be be able to work fast, with focus and at scale. Currently, there are more than 2000 European clusters, in different shapes or forms. This is a critical mass that needs to adapt and scale up massive innovation for the future of industry in Europe.

And that leads us to clusters of change, which is the main focus of the CAP Bootcamp this year. I am very excited to launch this initiative and I am cherry picking a limited number of top experts across Europe to work with, and to bring value to the clusters from different angles. The main point is to launch the first European generation of Clusters of Change.


What is the long-term goal? Looking a few years ahead?


I’ve done the Industry 2030 exercise and I’ve looked in-depth at how the value creation networks in Europe are looking at the moment. Whether we speak about innovation ecosystems, clusters, or other evolution stages, we have one decade to really be bold. The clusters play a crucial role – they can be the engines of growth for Europe. My view is that clusters hold the missing keys for the European industry to punch above its weight and lead globally, if they act at speed and scale.

We should start as soon as possible. I believe we have very few years to really take the lead globally. Think about China 2025 or what Canada is doing, how global players are positioning themselves. Europe needs to take action.

What I have developed is a number of tools and ‘stepping stones’ needed to take clusters to the next stage and empower them to take the lead for Europe.


What can we expect in Frankfurt?


You can expect a truly hands-on program with practical tools, practical methods, what works, what doesn’t work. I’ve proved that I can take a cluster as usual (even a declining cluster) and turn it into a cluster of change. This is based on my approach and the market intelligence I have gathered working with many clusters across Europe and beyond. Of course, your experience there will be more than useful, Christian. You can bring bottom up intelligence from clusters globally.

You can, indeed, expect a very practical approach. I want to inspire participants, empower them, send them back home after four days with a clear roadmap of personalized, tailored roadmap for their own cluster so they can really act and take their cluster to the next level.

Very practical and inspirational.


Very interesting! One last question, what are the biggest challenges you see for these 2000 Europen clusters ?


I believe most clusters in Europe are ‘frozen’ under these regional subsidies’ struggle quests for funding. They are in survival mode. That is already the reality of clusters as we know it – but we need to move beyond that. We all know it’s something there, but I think the focus needs to be in a different area – it needs to be on how we can create value. If you shift focus, the revenue models start to take shape as well. If you’re only looking into how to get money, you just get stuck. I’ve lived this myself.

I have found the missing keys to turn clusters into clusters of change, to find these financial services and  business models. That is something that participating clusters will be able to also shape – to do things differently when they get back home.


Fascinating. Thank you for your time and see you soon in Frankfurt!


Thank you, Christian. See you there!

Christian Rangen & Strategy Tools will be supporting the CAP and co-faciliating sessions on Day 1 and 2.

The CAP is offering 10 hot seats free of charge (travel and accomodation at the participants expense) for cluster managers, ecosystem builders and practitioners form any of the 28 EU Member States.

To apply, please register on Eventbrite and answer the questions within the registration process.

We look forward to supporting the development of the European Cluster Landscape!


Bianca Dragomir is passioned by building open, fresh, bold, entrepreneurship-driven ecosystems, inspiring leaders of leaders and generating a new generation of clusters across Europe and beyond.

Bianca is the first woman to be awarded as ‘European Cluster Manager of the Year’ by European Commission (2016).



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