Go to main menu Go to search Go to main content Go to footer

From S3 priority selection to actions

By Platform
Person giving presentation

On 1 June 2023, the Policy Learning Platform organised a matchmaking on S3 priority selections and actions for the benefit of The Province of East Flanders.

The Province of East Flanders is designing and implementing its Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) for the programming period 2021-2027. The selected regional S3 priorities are bioeconomy/cleantech, materials, smart logistics, agrifood, health tech, all things digital and smart logistics. The Province of East Flanders aims to gain knowledge on how to identify emerging opportunities from the selected regional S3 priorities and how to develop the right granularity of actions.


The main challenge

The Province of East Flanders’ main challenge concerns the identification of the right granularity of actions related to the selected regional S3 priorities within its Smart Specialisation Strategy ‘Innovation Playground East Flanders’

Host and participants


Peer experts:

Policy learning platform experts:

Key insights

The peers discussed the importance of inclusive and continuous entrepreneurial discovery process (EDP) and multi-level governance :


Some regions are adopting challenge-driven S3 to address regional societal challenges (see below the example of the city of Sofia).

This shift offers the opportunity to build new governance arrangements. For instance, the region of Castilla y León, Spain, has adopted new Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) mechanisms for the development of transformative challenges and working groups to promote flagship initiatives in an open public-private partnership framework.

Developing institutional capacities for effective S3 governance is a continuous process that requires time. Building long-term trust, enabling learning mechanisms, and retaining the right persons with strong knowledge of the regional institutional context are necessary enabling factors for developing institutional capacities for effective S3 governance. It is essential to have operational teams consisting of competent staff to support the implementation of policies and strategic initiatives.

Regions must select relevant key performance indicators to assist in piloting progress. 

These indicators can be shared with the regional innovation actors to foster a ‘unity of purpose’, particularly regarding the regional strategic S3 priorities (see the good practice Transparent Presentation and Communication of Innovation Projects Funded by ERDF in Asturias, Spain).

Regional animators can be identified and ‘contracted’ to handle certain parts of the EDP. For example, cluster managers can play an important role in engaging SMEs and larger companies in the EDP process.

The EDP process can also be a way of identifying new and perhaps more risky priorities that can represent new regional growth opportunities (see for instance the wild-card strategy in North Portugal).

Quantitative tools such as Social Network Analysis or patent analysis can support regional policymakers to map and identify central innovation actors (see for instance the Platform RIS3CAT in Catalonia, Spain). Additionally, the concept of economic relatedness reveals that new industrial sectors for a region emerge from the pre-existing regional industrial sectors. It provides a strong quantitative analytical tool to select the industrial sectors to prioritise.

In BEYOND EDP, the good practice Identification of the Regional Specialisation Pattern provided an objective basis for the selection of the priorities using 3 dimensions (economic, scientific and technological). Quantitative data were used to guide thematic working groups in the identification of new technological domains. This approach has been particularly well deployed in the Region Centre Val de Loire in France.

Good practices and further sources

The peers and moderators discussed Interreg Europe projects and their good practices, namely:

Smart specialisation