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News article3 May 20215 min read

Smart Specialisation for the Recovery' online workshop 15/04/2021, and S3 Newsletter Special Issue

This high level event aimed at deepening stakeholders’ understanding of how Smart Specialisation can be an effective tool to help territories recover from the current pandemic-induced crisis, and discover new opportunities for more sustainable and inclusive economies.

Open to all interested stakeholders, this online workshop involving more than 900 participants, gave the opportunity to outline what worked and what did not work in the previous programming period 2014-2020, and to identify a set of sound recommendations for the next generation of Smart Specialisation Strategies.

This event offered a unique forum to practitioners, policy-makers and researchers for discussing concrete achievements, good practices, and challenges related to implementing the Smart Specialisation policy and reinforce the dialogue and commitment of the community of practitioners.

Several interventions held during the online event are hereby highlighted.

I. Smart Specialisation for the Recovery

  • Carlos Ferreira de Morais Pires, Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, gave his address on behalf of Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth. In his welcoming speech, he outlined the importance of Cohesion policies combined with Research and Innovation strategies, as well as education and skills development, to pursue Europe's objectives related to the green and digital transformations.

Watch the short video.

  • Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, reaffirmed in her welcoming address, the role of Smart Specialisation Strategies as decisive instruments to drive cohesion policy forward, helping address new societal challenges, including economic recovery, and digital and green transitions. She also underlined their role in fostering synergies between policies and instruments, notably between Cohesion funds and Horizon Europe, provided the instruments ensure a cohesion logic and pursue correcting asymmetries, promoting convergence and a balanced territorial development.

Watch the short video.

  • In his keynote address, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions, underlined the critical role of Research and Innovation for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery. He also emphasised the potential of the regions in leveraging Smart Specialisation, notably through efficient partnerships and cooperation.

Watch the short video.

The Regions and the New Cohesion Policy

  • Bernard Magenhann, Deputy Director General of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, chaired the first workshop session focusing on the "Regions and the New Cohesion Policy". He highlighted the opportunity for territories across Europe to mobilise their Smart Specialisation Strategies and implement the largest stimulus package ever financed through the EU budget, thereby turning investment into sustainable jobs and prosperity for its citizens.
  • Thomas Wobben, Director within the European Committee of the Regions, underlined a number of key challenges faced by Smart Specialisation, and also highlighted the great potential of the concept, notably to foster place-based economic transformation, to support industrial transition and interregional value chains, as well as to promote synergies between Cohesion Policy and Horizon programmes and missions.
  • Manuel Palazuelos, Team leader of the Smart Specialisation Platform at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, within the Knowledge for Finance, Innovation and Growth Unit, underlined the lessons learned from the implementation of Smart Specialisation, with special emphasis on Governance, the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process, Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as policy implementation measures, more broadly.

See the PowerPoint Presentation for more information.

  • Mikel Irujo, Regional Minister of Economic and Entrepreneurial Development in the government of the Region of Navarre (Spain) and Member of the European Committee of the Region, stressed a set of important challenges that need to be addressed in the Next Generation EU framework. He also advocated for future Smart Specialisation Strategies that would be based on interregional strategic cooperation, with the double objective of generating synergies between regional innovation and development policies, and financial instruments, and, secondly, of avoiding duplication and fragmentation at EU level.

The Future Role of Smart Specialisation in the Cohesion Policy

  • In his address, Mikel Landabaso Álvarez, Director of “Growth and Innovation” and Director of the Seville site of the Joint Research Centre in the European Commission, threw into sharp relief the role of Smart Specialisation to nurture the European recovery, and to foster the place-based pursuit and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Peter Berkowitz, Head of Unit for Smart and Sustainable Growth within the Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission, emphasised in his keynote speech, the crucial role of Governance, of the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process, and of Monitoring and Evaluation, in implementing Smart Specialisation.

See the PowerPoint Presentation for more information.

  • Johan Stierna, Team leader of the Smart Specialisation Platform, and Dario Diodato, Economic Analyst, both working at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, within the Knowledge for Finance, Innovation and Growth Unit, presented a methodology for S4 that encompasses a bottom-up directionality towards sustainability, combined with a transformative innovation policy. It also uses the S4 Priority Compass, as a tool to help policymakers refine their policy priorities.

See the PowerPoint Presentation for more information.

Smart Specialisation Enabling the Achievement of SDGs

  • Monika Matusiak, Team leader on Smart Specialisation – Global Outreach, within the Territorial Development Unit of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, spotlighted notably that in order to continue with the ambitious priorities of Global Agenda 2030, Science, Technology and Innovation need to be mobilised for sustainable economic growth and for addressing the societal and environmental challenges we face.

See the PowerPoint Presentation for more information.

Smart Specialisation and the Recovery Drive Joining Forces

Watch the short video.

Special issue of the S3 Newsletter

Following the event, a Special issue of the S3 Newsletter was published, with a view to showcase the collaborative approach embraced by leading European innovation actors to bring forward the twin transition. It presents the speakers' contributions and highlights their key messages, the video recordings as well as PowerPoint presentations. It also seeks to disseminate these key messages to the Smart Specialisation community, and to serve as a reference document to enhance the Recovery period. In the context of the UN 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, the Green Deal works in tandem with Europe’s Smart Specialisation approach.

In the editorial, Xabier Goenaga, Head of the Knowledge for Finance, Innovation and Growth Unit at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, stressed that Smart Specialisation has the potential to become a decisive vehicle for economic transformation, fostering the new green and digital economy all across the EU, and supporting economic recovery. It is uniquely well placed to connect EU-level policies and instruments to place-based strategies, pursuing real impact for citizens, while mitigating the risk of regions falling behind.

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Publication date
3 May 2021