Methodology to attract research and innovation processes to rural territories through Smart Specialisation and based on the work of Local Action Groups (LAGs).
LAG TAGUS has developed and implemented a methodology to promote innovation in rural environments, based on Smart Specialisation and a new territorial governance model for the inclusion of knowledge agents into CLLD.
LAGs are non-profit associations responsible for the management of the Local Development Strategy of a specific territory in the rural environment. Public and private local socio-economic interests are represented in its organisation (participatory governance). Specifically, LAG TAGUS works in the territory of Tajo-Salor-Almonte, in the west of Spain. LAGs work to promote the activities that arise from entrepreneurs in the territory, acting as central catalysts so that initiatives arising in the territory can be materialized.
- Maximizes fund complementarities
- Enables territories to reach out to external funds: EIP-AGRI Operational Groups, H2020
- Promotes connection with regional RIS3 through strategic/lexical alignment and allows for more involvement of citizens in regional policies
What has worked well:
- They got external knowledge agents heavily involved
- They have managed to launch projects which otherwise wouldn’t have happened
- They have tapped into additional funding sources (operational groups) as leading partners
What is not working yet:
- Innovation ecosystem is seldom used by private agents
- Transformation is happening but still actively nurtured by the LAG: partial initiative transfer to private sector.
The development of the local Smart Specialisation Strategy is incardinated inside Local Development Strategy for LEADER as a main axis related to innovation in the LAG. The total amount of this programme is 4,900,000€ approximately, in which other projects related to S3 are included.
Evidence of success
The main evidence of the outputs obtained is the empowerment and reinforce of the governance model. Other agents have actively incorporated to the work of the LAG, especially knowledge agents: Extremadura University and other public-private knowledge agents. By using EDP, it has been a process participated by the population (over 200 people) with public & private agents building a shared vision. In contrast in the private sector the influence and implication of the knowledge agent is yet minor.
Main challenge: taking smart specialisation to a local level. The rural context has great difficulties to join research processes, not having enough competences to attract innovation. On the other hand, the instruments for the RIS3 implementation are not adapted to the reality of rural territories.
Potential for learning or transfer
These are the main lessons learned regarding Smart Specialisation in the scope of Rural Development:
There are inherent difficulties for innovation to root in rural territories:
- Potential entrepreneurs move to the city for education and don’t come back, so there is a brain drain from the countryside to cities
- Rural companies are not prepared for intrapreneurship
- There are noto sectorial clusters but a high atomization
- Lack of physical proximity between rural companies and knowledge centres
- No critical mass for replication of success stories
- Lack of skills for communication with regional R&D bodies and managing authorities, for obtaining external funding opportunities, etc.
Moreover, rural innovation does not emerge spontaneously, has to be nurtured/catalyzed from within, and LAGs can play a critical role for this to happen
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