The Smart Specialization Strategy of the Region of Crete (Greece) embraces the vision of Crete’s development plan for 2014-2020 Dynamic and Sustainable Crete as it has been planned to represent:
1. An integrated proposal for the regional economy’s exit from the crisis, aiming at enhancing the potential of innovation and scientific knowledge, in an attempt to boost the competitiveness of the well-established branches and to expand the productive base of Crete towards new emerging high added value sectors.
2. A legal framework for tackling important environmental problems and challenges for Crete, in terms of sustainable development and the creation of new jobs, by enhancing the potential of innovation and scientific knowledge.
The smart specialization strategy promotes the transformation of the regional economy by revitalizing traditional and emerging sectors and modernizing production capacities. In this context, it is necessary to link research and innovation to entrepreneurship and to enhance competitiveness, productivity and outsourcing of businesses to international markets towards a quality innovative entrepreneurship.
The Smart Specialization Strategy of the Region of Crete aims
- (a) revitalize the agro-alimentary complex so as to adapt to climate change, strengthening of export branches and promotion of the value of Cretan nutrition which is Crete’s intangible cultural heritage.
- (b) achieve the consolidation in the international market of a competitive cultural - tourism complex, with unique and original features
- (c) reduce Crete’s dependence on conventional forms of energy
- (d) shift towards the sustainable use of the island’s natural resources
- (e) make the best of the sea’s possibilities
- (f) develop world-class educational and training activities for its human capital which will rely on Crete’s educational web
- (g) develop production activities of high added value in emerging sectors which will rely on Crete’s educational web
The breakdown of the innovation system of the Region of Crete reveals the following four sectors which could become priorities for the Regional Smart Specialization Strategy for Crete:
- 1. The agro-alimentary complex
- 2. The cultural-touristic complex
- 3. The environmental-energy complex and
- 4. The knowledge complex
As far as the environmental-energy complex is concerned, the Regional Smart Specialization Strategy seeks to use scientific knowledge, innovation and ICT’s to tackle major environmental problems and challenges for Crete and to enhance innovative entrepreneurial activities. The developmental priorities in the environmental sector focus on smart water and waste management, recovery and reuse of materials, sustainable construction, energy saving and the utilization of renewable energy. In this context, the aim is to strengthen research, develop technologies and innovations by encouraging and supporting networking and partnerships of universities and research institutions with water management companies, engineers and producers of environmental technology and applications. In the energy sector, the aim is to develop internationally competitive products and services in energy saving, renewable energy and energy storage technologies.
The Region of Crete, trying to capture the potential of its market and knowing the interests of its research institutes, chooses the method of exploring through the consultation of the thematic areas that would be most suitable for funding at this crucial economic period. Within the framework of the consultation, the Region of Crete seeks to attract interested entrepreneurs and research institutions and through their cooperation to find the most suitable business ideas in order to achieve a more efficient allocation of funds from the Regional Operational Program and to better reclaim other funding. The consultation process includes a series of workshops with focused groups of common interests with the presence of experts for better informing the stakeholders, exchange and record views and ideas, form partnerships, and prioritize mature proposals. From this process, the scope of the Call for Proposals will emerge. Innovation platforms are involved in a repeating interactive procedure of consultation during which the interested parties analyze, plan and adapt investment and technological strategies to the evolving competitive environment and the market trends (entrepreneurial discovery).
The entrepreneurial discovery process concluded that specialization should focus on the following areas:
- Installations for producing and saving energy
- Production and use of new materials
- Intelligent technologies in energy
- Improving energy efficiency in buildings, facilities and infrastructure