'Smart specialisation' and cohesion policy: a strategy for all regions?

David Charles, Frederike Gross, John Bachtler

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Regional innovation policies have been promoted by the EU for almost two decades. The development of the EU approach in terms of concepts, policy content and funding constitutes a ‘journey’ in several respects. Over time, the concept of regional innovation strategies has evolved and become somewhat mainstreamed in Europe’s regions. It is being further developed at present through the extension to ‘smart specialisation strategies for regional innovation’ in response to the Europe 2020 strategy.
Although the concept of smart specialisation is not necessarily different from regional innovation strategies, there is an enhanced focus on the diversification of the region on the basis of existing strengths as well as a more dynamic approach to cluster policy. This approach fits with current thinking on regional policy in being place-based, where regional strategies are distinctive and founded on exploiting local assets depending on their unique characteristics and evolutionary path. A final dimension is the recognition of inter-regional connectedness.
This new (re)conceptualisation of regional innovation strategies is being actively promoted by DG REGIO as the basis for the next generation of Structural Funds programmes post-2014. The presence of a smart specialisation strategy is to be a requirement, as part of the new ex ante conditionality framework, for a region wishing to use its ERDF for innovation activities. This inevitably raises questions as to what is a smart specialisation strategy, and whether it makes sense for all regions to follow this model.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages62
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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