A rural county that has adopted new concepts of smart specialization to engage local actors in the creation of new solutions based on the territory’s assets.
Berguedà is a rural county (40.000 inhabitants) located in the north-central part of Catalonia, which has become a referent in this region regarding smart rural development. After many decades of strong presence of mining and manufacturing activities, the county suffered an important economic crisis, due to the closure of mines and factories. This led to a complete reformulation of the local development policies with the creation in 2013 of the new Agència de Desenvolupament del Berguedà (county development agency), with an extended portfolio of services oriented to promote sustainable economic activity in the area, while keeping and modernising the remained relevant industries, mainly related to forestry sector, but focussing also in agriculture and rural tourism. The Agency is based in the promotion of an entrepreneurship culture, support emerging clusters or the support to the circular economy. For this, it counts with several instruments to nurture the economic ecosystem: Accelerator programme, new funding instruments (grants, loans, PPP), accelerator and talent programmes and Rural incubators. In 2016, Berguedà presented a project to economically transform the territory. Specifically, a project to innovate around the energy and forestry sector where the public and private sector is joined by this initiative.

Resources needed

The initiative has been selected as one of the 3 best projects of territorial specialization of Catalonia, and thus the Berguedà obtains a million in aid of the two million that it is anticipated to invest in the plan.

Evidence of success

- Successful adoption of new concepts of local economic development and innovation:
- Co-creation process of new economic activities beneficial for the territory.
- Design and implementation of one Project of Specialization and Territorial Competitiveness (Catalan RIS3 instrument) to promote smart specialization in circular economy in the energy and forestry framework, aligning all the quads of the fourfold helix.

Difficulties encountered

The task to convince local actors of the need to move from traditional activities to one specialization was time and resource consuming for the Agency
- The PECT instrument took time to be resolved, causing a delay in the start of the project

Potential for learning or transfer

The importance of having an agenda for all of the sub-region
Entrepreneurial leadership that is organised, demanding and coherent
Adoption of key priorities, sectors, and locations
To count with a variety of tools available for financing and loan vehicles that attract external investment
An economic agenda featuring solid partnerships with the local public sector as well as the local and regional private sector
A collaborative leadership that guides, gives autonomy, and is centred on global outcomes and makes the most of its resources to obtain results

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Main institution
Agència de Desenvolupament del Berguedà
Andalucía, Spain (España)
Start Date
September 2015
End Date


Laura Capel-Tatjer Please login to contact the author.