The European Union countries must start a review of the priorities of smart specialties in 2018. But there is not much to see for everyone because the part of the measures is just starting to be implemented.

All EU countries have developed smart specialization strategies based on their unique qualities and scientific potential, and have also identified their areas of innovation.

Image: © Verslo žinios

“From 2018 all EU Member States have to start a review of their priorities for smart specialisation, but in Lithuania, much of the smart specialization measures due to bureaucratic obstacles have not yet started or are lagging far behind. So, if in 2018, Lithuania would start to correct the priorities of smart specialisation started to take place in 2018, it would cause total chaos in the innovation system” said Mantas Vilys, director of Lithuanian Innovation centre at „InnoSummit 2017” conference.

The development of regional innovation strategies 3 (RIS3) in Lithuania acts as the primary instrument for accessing European Structural Investment Funds (ESIF) for the research and innovation (R&I) system. The low-performing Lithuanian R&I system, is still heavily dependent on the access to the European Structural Investment Funds.

According to him, a large arsenal of instruments and measures has not yet been finished, so it would be difficult to fully assess whether all measures bring results.There are measures such as “Innovation Vouchers”, “Intellect LT”, and various venture capital instruments. Some of these measures are already in place, but companies are still receiving funding and launching projects, so the results are not visible yet. The various solutions for the merit of measures would be different and it would not be desirable to make drastic decisions after evaluations.

However, the development of Smart specialization was a learning process and the outcomes will not be visible now. Despite implementation plans and measures, Smart specialization itself is not a plan – it is a vision.

Some of the stakeholders will react with resistance to changes in the development of the strategy, because it brings more openness to the process, and the best practice to challenge it is constant communication and maximum openness. The prioritization will be leveraging between the too narrow and the too broad. This is especially true when the R&I landscape is fragmented; it is impossible to reach the ‘similar weight and scope of potential’ in all priorities, which leads to stronger and weaker priorities.

The evaluation of the implementation of the RIS3 will be carried out by the ‘Agency for Research and Study Monitoring and Analysis ‘(MOSTA) with the Ministry of Economy. Ramojus Reimeris, Head of Division for Innovation Policy Analysis, explains that it has been foreseen in advance that at all stages of the strategy will be reviewed and, if desired, changed.

According to him, it is likely that the results are likely to be seen later than planned. However, he points out that some of the priorities and at their own speed, without additional measures, are moving fairly fast. "In my opinion, at the end of this year all measures will work and after a year we will see how the ambitions are moving. Maybe there will be no concrete results, but at least the direction will be visible", said R. Ramojus.

There is a need and an opportunity for closer collaboration with neighboring regions, as most of the Eastern European countries have focused too much internally and missed opportunities to design their own RIS3 in broader geographical dimensions.

The potential of learning or transfer of a well-performing R&I system through the European regions for Smart specialization would be as follows:

  • Possibility to achieve the polarization and distribution of research activities in space,
  • Achieve a better use of the existing regional potential,
  • Develop the cumulative learning of advanced R&D activities,
  • Creation of synergic effects in the adoption and application of technology.