On Tuesday April 16, I visited the East Sweden region to give a speech on development in the European Union and the EU Horizon 2020 strategy, at a regional conference in Åtvidaberg. The conference was about the smart specialization strategies for the region.
We have written about the RIS3 framework and smart specialization previously on this blog and the East Sweden region, like most other regions in Europe are currently working on defining their smart specialization strategy. The project is led by the Regional Council.
East Sweden is a region of 430,000 inhabitants and covers an area of around 10,000 square kilometers. It comprises the towns of Linköping and Norrköping as power houses and eleven smaller municipalities.
East Sweden is positioned on the east coast of the country, which is a location of great importance for Sweden over the centuries. Historically it has been a region of medieval royalty, aristocracy and trading posts, and it was also a key location during the industrial revolution. Today it is a strong innovation and knowledge focused hub, yet with magical nature and exciting historical sites to visit.
It is an expansive region with many international companies, leading research and high class programmes at Linköping University and Mjärdevi Science Park. Local strong companies includes SAAB, ASM Foods, HTC Systems and Väderstadsverken. Given the geography and diversity of the region, the 13 municipalities has not really cooperated for development and growth until recently.
The region is also rich in cultural heritage. Historically it has been of central importance in the creation of the Swedish nation. The House of Bjelbo, also known as the House of Folkung (Folkungaätten), was an Ostrogothian Swedish family that during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries provided for several Swedish bishops, jarls and kings. One of them depicted in the Carl Milles sculpture on the left.
Smart Specialisation is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support to Research and Innovation (R&I). It will be the basis for Structural Fund investments in R&I as part of the future Cohesion Policy’s contribution to the Europe 2020 jobs and growth agenda.
More generally, smart specialization involves a process of developing a vision, identifying competitive advantage, setting strategic priorities and making use of smart policies to maximize the knowledge-based development potential of any region, strong or weak, high-tech or low-tech. Once the smart specialization strategy is decided, project can be set up to facilitate an economic transformation agenda based on 4Cs:
(Tough) Choices: limited number of priorities on the basis of own strengths and international specialization – avoid duplication and fragmentation in European R&D Area
Competitive Advantage: mobilize talent by matching RTD + I capacities and business needs through an entrepreneurial discovery process
(Critical Mass) Clusters and Connectivity: develop world class clusters and provide arenas for related variety/cross-sectorial links internally in the region and externally, which drive specialized technological diversification
Collaborative Leadership: efficient innovation systems as a collective endeavor based on public-private partnership (quadruple helix) – experimental platform to give voice to un-usual suspects
I look forward to follow the development of smart specialization in the East Sweden region.