Nowadays, we can say that Smart Specialisation policy experience is positively valued across EU countries and regions so far, but there are some aspects that need to be examined and approached.
Regarding to the design and implementation of the RIS3, human capacity is needed, being the lack of skills and capabilities a challenge throughout the whole process. It’s necessary to retain the current policy framework introducing new elements to improve strategies’ efficacy and make Smart Specialisation more responsive to the specific needs of each territory.
Mr Alasdair Reid, as Policy Director in the European future innovation system center, reminds that Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) may at one extreme be instrumentalised to maintain authority of one or more stakeholders or at the other it may be an open and inclusive multi-stakeholder process. It is important to take this into account in order to develop a successful and inclusive EDP.
However, RIS3 does not automatically lead to a continuous EDP during implementation or sufficiently encourage multi-stakeholder approaches to decision-making.
In particular, civil society remains disconnected from S3, being still a triple and not quadruple helix.
EURADA is contributing to the improvement of the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process through its participation in the Interreg Europe project Beyond EDP, a project that tries to enhance the research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation strengthening EDP.
Mr Alessandro Rainoldi holds that “we should have Smart Specialisation even if it was not an ex-ante conditionality”, and also points out one of the problems that territories have: the definition and identification of their priorities. They doubt whether they have the right number of priorities or not, when the number of priorities is not the most important thing, and neither is the content. The crux of the matter is that the identification of priorities must come from a sincere and participatory approach, putting in all the accumulated knowledge, in order to have a successful result.
Even if it is still a little bit early, an outcome we can see now is the growing interest to upscale the regional RIS3 to another regions with similar priorities to make some kind of joint investment project.
Cohesion Policy after 2020 will be modern, focused on smart and low carbon economy, more simple and flexible, with shorter regulations and adapted to emerging needs like migration, and addressed to all regions, present for emerging needs elsewhere.
Besides the simplification of the 11 objectives to 5, there will be horizontal issues: administrative capacity building and cooperation outside the programme area.
Mr Berkowitz explains the future of the Smart Specialisation presenting some policy challenges as the unequal growth regarding to regions or the improvement of effectiveness, strongly focusing on the need to improve monitoring and evaluation. “We should be also more explicit in innovation focusing particularly on digitisation”, he remarks.
Smart Specialisation strategies should be linked to societal challenges, since they should be a reflection of the priorities of each territory. A change in the implementation policy mix has been proposed, as well as a change to make priorities less specific. And priorities need to be customized to the actual needs of territories. This is the future of the Smart Specialisation.