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Interregional Collaboration for Smart Specialisation: methodological tools

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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) S3 Platform has recently published two technical reports—Factors of Leadership Attitude Enhancing Interregional Collaboration and the Methodological Manual - Developing Thematic Interregional Partnerships for Smart Specialisation—that provide methodological tools to enhance interregional collaboration in the context of the Thematic Interregional Partnerships for Smart Specialisation.  They can also offer interesting insights for other interregional initiatives such as Interreg Europe, Horizon 2020, URBACT, C40, the Vanguard Initiative, and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) with its Knowledge Innovation Communities (KICs). 

Interregional collaboration is one of the 7 ‘enabling conditions’ for Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) and thus will be central in next programming period 2021-2027 for EU Cohesion Policy. Indeed, S3 implies building on cross-regional cooperation to strengthen regional competitiveness while minimising duplication and fragmentation of publicly funded activities across the European Union (EU). As a result, regional policymakers must aim to find complementarities and synergies with other regions to integrate their regions in the (European) Value Chain while addressing missing links in their innovation value chain and maximising their regions’ innovative potential (Brennan & Rakhmatullin). 

The report Factors of Leadership Attitude Enhancing Interregional Collaboration points out to the importance of leadership and sound governance structures to contribute to effective and sustainable interregional initiatives. The report provides an assessment framework to assist stakeholders of interregional collaborative actions to ensure efficiency, sustainability, and success of their projects in achieving their objectives. The assessment framework emphasises areas of leadership where adjustments or changes are needed to contribute to the viability of cross-border collaborative efforts, examining motivational and attitudinal indicators.

Diagram on dimensions of leadership assessment.

Figure 1. Dimensions of leadership assessment. Source: JRC Seville

The Methodological Manual - Developing Thematic Interregional Partnerships for Smart Specialisation of which our Thematic Expert in Research and innovation Marc Pattinson is a guest contributor, provides tools for stirring thematic S3 platforms. Back in 2015, following the experience of the Vanguard Initiative, the European Commission launched three thematic Smart Specialisation platforms to support interregional cooperation in the context of Smart Specialisation areas relating to Agri-Food, Energy, and Industrial Modernisation. The European Commission recognises thematic S3 platforms as an opportunity to promote synergies between regions and to support co-investment in new strategic growth areas.

The methodological manual is divided into two chapters, the learn and connect phases:

  • The learn phase provides guidelines on how to setup a thematic S3 partnership, prepare and carry out mapping activities, as well as how to organise and manage interregional collaborations in their early stages. It gives a list of technical questions to consider in relation to the political and financial sustainability of the initiative as well as expected outcomes from such collaborative efforts. It offers a path forward to guide partner regions in articulating a shared understanding of the opportunities and challenges for co-investment in a chosen area.
  • The connect phase provides tools for mapping existing and/or missing capacities relevant to the selected areas of common interest for co-investments and for matching business opportunities. The connect phase requires frequent interactions among all relevant stakeholders to assess their technology levels. It looks at exploring business matchmaking opportunities to find complementary interests and competences. The objective of such partnerships being to prepare specific proposals for joint co-investment projects with a clear rationale

Read online the technical report on Methodological Manual - Developing Thematic Interregional Partnerships for Smart Specialisation

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