Smart arenas implements regional innovation strategy to utilize the region’s resources, opportunities and competences with increased growth and attractiveness.
A smart arena is a meeting place for collaboration between different competences in society, i.e. people from areas such as research, business, the public sector, academia and civil society.
As part of the regional innovation strategy for smart specialization in Region Gävleborg in northern mid Sweden, five smart arenas have been developed around five “areas of strengths” that have been identified as having particularly excellent conditions. Each arena is organized as to elevate and further develop existing regional strengths and is coordinated by a process manager.
The smart arenas are based on the observation of an uneven access to services and support in the region. It was necessary to strengthen collaboration and interaction between the actors in the innovation system, but also to strengthen access to innovation resources at local level.
The smart arenas involve innovation system actors and promote them to develop common models and tools to drive and support innovation processes from idea to products/services in the market linked to the different “areas of strength. The conjoint function of the arenas is to share lessons and experiences, inspire each other to new ways of thinking and perspectives or finding new forms of collaboration across organizational boundaries.
Smart Arenas:
-Smart sustainable cities and communities
-Digital services and processes
-Sustainable and inclusive working life
-Materials technology and sustainable production
-Bio economy

Resources needed

One full-time project coordinator from the Region. One full-time process leader per Smart Arena. Resources within the Smart Arenas as to enable coordinated actions.

Evidence of success

- Five arenas are established and operating as platforms for smart specialization strategies in the region.
- Increased awareness about the content of Smart Specialization Strategies in the regional innovation system.
- Increased levels of coordinated activities across actors in the innovation system.
- Steps taken towards a coordinated approach to performance evaluations of different types of actors in the innovation system.

Difficulties encountered

Important to ensure the funding and capacity of participating actors in the regional innovation system taking part of coordination.
A challenge is balancing the need for harmonizing regional processes and at the same time allowing individual actors to act freely ensuring value for stakeholders.

Potential for learning or transfer

- How to create regional awareness about regional smart specialization strategies.
- How to efficiently coordinate regional development in relation to smart specialization strategies.
- How to change established structures for regional development as to mobilize resources towards the effectuation of smart specialization strategies.
- How to allow flexibility in the regional innovation system and at the same time having common structure that guides the individual arenas.
- How to transfer knowledge between actors within the innovation support system.
- How to strengthen collaboration and interaction between the actors in the regional innovation system.

Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.

Main institution
Region Gävleborg
Norra Mellansverige, Sweden (Sverige)
Start Date
September 2017
End Date


Torbjörn Jonsson Please login to contact the author.