Smart Specialisation or RIS3 (Research and Innovation strategies for Smart Specialisation) is a strategic approach to economic development through targeted support for research and innovation. It involves a process of developing a vision, identifying regionally based areas of greatest strategic potential, developing multi-stakeholder governance mechanisms, setting strategic priorities and using smart policies to maximize the knowledge-based development potential of a region, regardless of whether it is strong or weak, high-tech or low-tech. We in Bearing have recently been involved to develop such a strategy in East Sweden.
In many places, specialisation has developed naturally over time, as the map of Europe below illustrates. However smart specialisation is meaningful only when we are clear on our trade flows, i.e. which other regions we import from, export to and compete with.
The S3 Platform of the Joint Research Centre’s Institute of Prospective Technology Studies (a part of the European Commission’s in-house science service) and the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency have now developed a visualisation tool comparing 256 European regions and also making comparisons between these regions and the rest of the World.
The tool allows for analysing a region’s competitive position and its position in global economic networks and trade flows using a visualization of actual regional data. It determines the competitors of firms in regions, the position of these firms in interregional and international trade, and positions regions vis-à-vis their competitors.
The purpose of the tool is to carefully analyse a region’s economic position such that a regional economic development strategy can be built on a sound analysis of regional assets and technology. It thereby helps regional policy makers to use this information to develop an evidence-based scientific regional smart specialization strategies.
The tool makes use of the newest data visualization technology to present all different aspects of interregional competitiveness. Here is a link to the tools homepage.
Smart specialisation strategies can be implemented using European Union policy and funding mechanisms. The European Commission’s Cohesion Policy aims to reduce differences between regions in Europe and to ensure growth across Europe and structural Funds are among the main tools to implement the policy and it is within this framework that Smart Specialisation was introduced.