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Fostering Transregional S3-based Cooperation for Advancing the Sustainable Blue Economy

Article written By Maria Gomez-Etxebarria - Policy & Projects Intern

On 20 April 2023, the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the European Union hosted the event “Fostering transregional S3-based cooperation: Advancing the sustainable Blue Economy through macroregional innovation collaboration”

The event aimed to explore the potential of macroregional smart specialisation-based cooperation in advancing sustainable development in EU macro-regions and Euroregions.

The Interreg Adrion project BLUEAIR served as a case study to demonstrate the steps taken towards S3-based cooperation in the sustainable Blue Economy in the Adriatic and Ionian regions. The event aimed to highlight the importance of promoting transregional collaboration between various innovation stakeholders towards a more coordinated approach for developing relevant priority areas and cross-border innovation. The event aimed to inspire other EU macro-regions and Euroregions to embrace similar approaches in priority areas relevant to their respective regions.

Elena Banci, the coordinator of the BLUEAIR project, provided insights on the project's strategic importance for the Adriatic and Ionian regions. The project emerged from another project under the ADRION call and focused on a Blue Sustainable Economy. They began in 2020 amidst the pandemic, with the objective of improving the competencies of the quadruple helix actors in defining effective innovation policies on Blue Growth.

The project aimed to involve the entire region and conducted various activities such as investigating Blue Growth innovation policies, developing and testing an S3 decision-making toolkit, capacity building, and capitalization. The final event is scheduled for the 15th of June, 2023.

Domagoj Šarić, from the Croatian Chamber of Economy, spoke about the BLUEAIR Macroregional innovation strategy for Sustainable Blue Economy. He emphasised that the macroregion is diverse, and there are different aspects of development. They explored more than 33 different S3s in the Adriatic region and discovered that transport and mobility, energy and environment, health and medicine, agro-bioeconomy were the areas of focus. Among 200 thematic priorities, four of them were related to the Blue Economy, but 14 of them shared objectives with the Blue Economy.

The BLUEAIR project aimed to create a macroregional system by integrating stakeholders and ecosystems. The project outputs include the BLUEAIR innovation community, Innovation strategy of the Macro Regional S3 on Blue Growth, Action plan for innovation investment on Blue Growth, and improved knowledge, skills, and competencies for the 4 helix actors.

The event also featured speakers from the European Commission Eleni Hatziyanni, from DG MARE and Helena Sundblad Schäfer, from DG REGIO, as partner organisations and ministries discussing the ways of promoting macroregional innovation strategies and transregional S3-based cooperation. Both Eleni and Helena gave insight into the role of the Commission regarding transregional S3 with a focus on the Blue Economy and especially on the BLUEAIR initiative presented throughout the event.

In conclusion, the event provided valuable insights into promoting transregional cooperation to advance sustainable development in EU macro-regions and Euroregions. The BLUEAIR project serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for other EU macro-regions and Euroregions to embrace similar approaches in priority areas relevant to their respective regions.

You may find more information about the event here.