Design a sub regional s3 based on a clear governance model, participation of fourth helix agents and the alignment with regional S3.
In 2006, driven by the awareness of the existence of potential overlaps in their activities, and the need to improve their impact in their territory the four main actors in the innovation governance system of Lea Artibai (a county in Bizkaia, Basque Country) decided to join forces to foster innovation in the supramunicipal district. They developed together a territorial strategy (The Esperanza 2013 project) which later led to the LEARTIBAI BIOBERDEA STRATEGY 2020 and the definition of a smart specialization (S3) strategy.
The S3 strategy is the product of a participatory process, involving fourth helix stakeholders, from local councils and the supramunicipal association, to Companies, Knowledge entities and Society itself, and was designed taking into account also the regional S3 strategy. The Lea-Artibai strategy is focused on four areas: Health, Healthy Food, Circular Economy and Wellness Tourism.
The S3 strategy is lead by the supra-municipal centre for entrepreneurship and innovation (Azaro Fundazioa) but it rests on a series of forums and panels that contribute to its deployment with local industrial SMEs, entrepreneurs and training centers.
The strategy is implemented mainly through the development of specific innovation projects with companies, following an ad-hoc designed methodology. Besides, the lead organization (Azaro) takes part in provincial and regional S3 related forums, connecting the local S3 and innovation projects with regional and provincial ones.

Resources needed

We have needed the following annual resources from 2006 to 2020: 1)A team of 8 people and 2) An average annual income of 750.000€ where 50% of those incomes come from the Basque government and Bizkaia provincial council public funding programs

Evidence of success

• 245 new activities and 650 new jobs created
• 410 innovation projects with companies developed and 50 research projects
• Lea-Artibai Berrikuntza Gunea creation, as an entrepreneurship, innovation and research centre. New building and new premises for boosting entrepreneurship and innovation
• Supramunicipal competences map created and updated
• Supramunicipal S3 definition
• 5,000 hours of specialised training offered
• More than 20 scientific articles published and 6 PhDs obtained

Potential for learning or transfer

A methodology that can be transferable, through adaptation to context, to other territories, to design a SUB REGIONAL S3 which consists of 6 steps:
1.Define a clear Territorial Governance Model, with a clear role and competences allocation. One entity will undertake the leadership.
2.Analyse Business Fabric Competences
3.Design a participatory process for the definition of the sub regional S3 involving local fourth helix stakeholders and key stakeholders in charge of the regional S3
4.Design the sub regional S3 in line with the regional S3 considering the business fabric competences
5.Achieve the capillarity of the sub regional S3 through a)the creation of advanced innovation services , b)The continuous and close relationship with the companies and entrepreneurs by means of forums c)The definition and implementation of innovation projects with companies
6.Connect the sub regional S3 and projects to the regional S3 and projects by means of participating in regional forums
Main institution
Azaro Foundation
País Vasco,
Start Date
January 2006
End Date


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