On 22 October 2019, the Policy Learning Platform organised a webinar on the topic of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3), with special focus on its governance

After a brief introduction to the topic, delivered by research and innovation thematic experts Arnault Morisson and Richard Tuffs, the webinar presented three successful case studies: 

You can watch the replay of the webinar below. To facilitate your navigation, find the highlights and questions in the agenda overview below. You can also read more about the topic in the key learnings below. 

00:05:00 Introduction presentation by Arnault Morisson

00:08:03 Fulfilment criteria for the enabling condition 2021-2027

00:26:21 Presentation on the roadmap for the regional agenda of sustainable materials for Asturias by Paz Palacio Fernández

00:38:10 Q&A: What number of people would you recommend in a working group? And how should they be selected? 

00:42:50 Presentation on dealing with multi-level governance in the Basque Country by Maria José Aranguren 

00:56:30 Q&A: Do you consider the more complex the govern system, the more conflict you encounter between different positions? And how do you deal with that?  

01:00:00 Presentation on the Mazovian Innovation Council by Sylwia Sztark

01:26:35 Start of panel discussion with the question: How to make RIS3 governance more effective for the next programming period? What lessons have you learned?

01:32:35 Q&A: Could you elaborate on integrated implementation? 

Key Learnings

In Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3), governance is a complex activity that can either enable or hinder the effective design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of place-based innovation policies. Indeed, RIS3 governance is not only about policies but also a process that involves various actors who together determine the priorities, strategies, activities and outcomes in research and innovation.

From this webinar, we can highlight five key messages to promote better RIS3 governance:

  • Regions must have an excellent knowledge of their institutional contexts in order to design and implement effective place-based policies.
  • RIS3 offers the possibility for regions to design experimental governance initiatives to respond to regional institutional weaknesses.
  • Effective RIS3 governance depends on a mix of formal and informal structures (advisory boards, steering groups, etc.) and also a mix of top-down and bottom-up governance which can bring flexibility to the governance process and react more rapidly to changing contexts. There is no one-size-fits-all and each region will need to develop its own governance structure depending on its geographical, economic and political context.
  • RIS3 governance also needs to involve key stakeholders in the region. These stakeholders should have a role in developing priorities and also implementing them. Effective governance also needs 'orchestrators', 'coordinators' and 'facilitators' have an important role to play in linking both vertically within a multi-level governance system and across sectors. Their roles can range from animating working groups to reducing the complexity of multi-level governance.
  • Effective RIS3 governance requires transparency and trust. Regions that are able to build trust between regional stakeholders (e.g. developing strong triple/quadruple helix arrangements) may have more confidence in relying more on informal and bottom-up governance. However, this requires transparent decision-making processes and good communication. Smart specialisation strategies are about choosing and investing in priorities and this can mean 'winners' and 'losers'. So decision making needs to be transparent and evidence-based. 

More on the topic 

Follow-up report from the thematic workshop on better monitoring, evaluating and designing RIS3. 

Discover our policy digest on the topics of RIS3 and sign up for upcoming editions. 

Image credit: Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels