Smart Specialisation for All Regions?

Nordregio News Issue 5, 2012

Photo: Lahden kaupunki

Implementing a New Policy Concept - Smart Specialisation

Over the past few years, the concept of Smart Specialisation has been diffused at surprisingly rapid pace among European regions. The latest economic crises, in combination with demographic challenges, climate changes and increased global competition, have increased European attention to research, innovation and entrepreneurship. To implement the strategy Europe 2020 for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth Smart Specialisation strategies were introduced as a way to increase efficiency in research and innovation investments by integrating policy areas, applying a broad definition of innovations and stimulating collaboration - between regions, sectors and levels. In this issue of Nordregio News, we make an effort to discover what Smart Specialisation is all about, and to understand the concept from a Nordic perspective.

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What is Smart Specialisation

By Inger Midtkandal & Jens Sörvik

Currently there are ongoing discussions and negotiations between the European Commission and EU member states over the inclusion of an ex ante conditionality of a smart specialisation strategy in the next programming period of the Cohesion Funds. This raises questions concerning what is a smart specialisation strategy and how it differs from the strategies already in place.

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Towards Smart Specialisation - The Lahti Region

By Vesa Harmaakorpi & Tomi Tura

The Lahti Region was hit hard by the collapse of trade to the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s. Until then a vigorous industrial region, it soon fell into decline and was troubled by the disintegration of business life. Growth was pursued through a cluster strategy; however, this was felt to restrict and isolate the activities too much. After tackling the issue of its diffuse innovation environment, the region is now one of the fastest growing in Finland. One of the main drivers of this change has been a strategic approach that could be characterised as Smart Specialisation.

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The Rapid Diffussion of a New Policy Concept

By Maria Lindqvist

When I first encountered Smart Specialisation, I could never have expected the rapid impact of the concept on European policy. Today, strategies for Smart Specialisation are being implemented in the Nordic countries to varying degrees, mainly in connection with the new EU Structural Funds.

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