S3 Community of Practice: Services offered to S3 practitioners


Els Van de Velde

Senior Expert in Competitiveness & Innovation - S3 Community of Practice Secretariat.

The S3 Community of Practice (S3 CoP) aims to offers practitioners a wide range of strategic services and co-designs solutions on any important aspect of S3. It aims at reaching out to all quadruple-helix stakeholders (regional authorities, companies, research and innovation actors and civil society) as a fundamental involvement to the activities underpinning the regional priorities and the interregional Thematic Smart Specialisation Platforms (TSSPs).

In order to achieve these objectives, the following activities will be developed through the S3 CoP: Steering Committee meetings to exchange and share experiences among TSSPs, service provision to existing and new partnerships, guidance for new partnerships, monitoring through the reporting every six months, including connection to regular website updates, and launching of an Open call for Expression of Interest for the setting up of new partnerships  in new thematic priority areas.

As to the services, the S3 Community of Practice will provide different forms of support, assistance and peer learning opportunities to regional authorities and stakeholders involved in Smart Specialisation across the EU. Overall, three pillars are proposed, namely a first pillar on policy advice that will provide services through Expert Groups, formed by practitioners and academics, to support the development of the S3 concept and provide insights on implementation, and Working Groups, that will share experience and good practices in three topics: innovation diffusion, industrial transition, and inter-regional cooperation. The second pillar consists of offering targeted support to the S3 Thematic Platforms as well as to the TSSPs. Finally, the third pillar is based on communication through the S3 CoP events and the new website, which is now under development.

Zooming in on the second pillar, the S3 CoP Secretariat will offer eight types of services to the partnerships. Each partnership will have the possibility to benefit from up to three services:

Training and capacity building on interregional collaboration is foreseen for emerging or even pre-emerging regions and partnerships to determine whether interregional collaboration meets their expectations and desired outcomes. Therefore, it seeks to support potential new partnerships in building a vision for their partnership, to find common objectives, and a mission and strategy for setting up a new partnership. It also assists regional authorities in undertaking their role as lead or partner regions connecting the regional S3 with the activities of partnerships.

Governance could be applicable when the collaboration among regions is unstructured and suffers as a result (e.g., lack of lead region, missing guidance, no one tracking progress of proposed activities, no financial framework related to funding synergies among regions or other funding model). Hence, it is about providing a well-structured collaboration that suits the needs of the participating regions.

(Re) Scoping is foreseen if the initial scope of the proposal is sufficiently granular, however needs further detailing, e.g., on the application areas, the role of partners, and the specificity of the value chain segment or targeted demonstrator. This service can also include rescoping which can be relevant in cases such as related to the reanimation of a partnership, catching up with and acting pro-actively on changes in the thematic R&I and industry landscape, or assessing the relevance of integrating (parts of) partnerships with each other.

Mapping is applicable when competences (and organisations holding these competences) amongst partner regions are not clearly understood and this is hampering the development of a demonstration project. The aim is to get a clear picture on the competences of the regions and their stakeholders, summarised in a scoping / concept note.

Smart partnering consists of the identification of complementary, targeted partners to complement the existing consortium, to advance further development. It provides support in case the proposed project has existing partners but identifies certain gaps in the partners, and looks for complementary expertise. Smart partnering can also be relevant for the reanimation of partnerships in cases where the partnership is considered dormant, needing new commitment or leadership.

Funding, finance, and investment assistance is pertinent when a partnership has designed a demonstrator, business plan or service and needs to locate finance and/or funding to finance the execution, whether it be public or private. It seeks to aid in the search for relevant funding through information sessions, guidance material, preparation of a partnership or consortium for application.

Demonstration is foreseen for regions that want to engage in (joint) pilot or demonstration activities and need guidance in how to set this up. S3 CoP will provide support in identifying required partners or services, and in the development of new project demonstration activities.

Scale- up and commercialisation will be applied when there is a need to provide access to new markets and support for fast growing companies as well as a need to develop commercialisation activities.

For further questions on the specific activities related to the partnerships, please contact partnerships@s3-cop.eu

or visit the S3 CoP website: