The S3 Conference 2023 took place online on 30 March 2023. It was the first in a series of events that DG REGIO organises for S3 stakeholders from across regions in EU Member States.
The conference was opened by the European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, who spoke about the need of increasing opportunities all over Europe, as a network, not only in big cities but also in medium ones and rural areas. She also highlighted the importance of innovation centres working across Europe to join efforts.
The first round table was about the smart specialisation and the new S3 Community of Practice: creating win-win opportunities for local economic development linked to EU priorities, where different European stakeholders of the S3 shared their experiences. Summarizing the ideas shared by Gabriela Macoveiu (North-East Romania Development Agency, Romania), who spoke about her lessons learnt: pointing out the importance to broad the voice of local stakeholders and increasing the leadership of S3 internally (regional team in charge) and externally (involving stakeholders), developing a roadmap about the administrative capacity of the region for implementing the S3 strategy and improving the monitoring of KPIs and also aligning it with SDGs.
The second part of the morning was dedicated to introduce the Smart Specialisation Strategies Community of Practice (S3 CoP in advance).
S3 CoP will focus on assessing needs and co-design solutions, offering and analytical approach to policy dialogue and hands-on support to regions. Its key components will be creating and mobilising a community of practitioners, addressing key challenges for S3 implementation and offering targeted support to region, smart specialisation platforms and partnerships. Specifically, the services provided will be:
S3 CoP has defined a series of events until 2025: S3 Conferences (next one in 2024) and annual S3 Forums (next in November 2023 and 2025)
Matthieu Lacave (S3 CoP Secretariat) introduced the S3 Expert Group, focused on analytical studies on S3 policy and implementation that joined in February 2023 for a first meeting. Outputs will be disseminated through the S3 CoP website.
Different S3 CoP Secretariat staff also explained deeply the Expert support to S3 development and implementation on the ground, and the Working groups on innovation diffusion, industrial transition, and interregional cooperation which main purpose will be to collect knowledge & good practices, identify common needs & challenges, co-develop solutions with the regions and support & monitor the deployment of solutions. The target audience of these groups will be regional authorities and policy makers.
Additional information to participate in these Working Groups:
Els Van de Velde (S3 CoP Secretariat) introduced novelties for S3 Thematic Platforms and Partnerships. S3 CoP will organise Steering Committee meetings to exchange and share experiences among the Thematic Smart Specialisation Platforms, will give service provision and guidance to existing and new partnerships (the expression of interest for new ones is forthcoming), will ask for reporting every six months (also updating key data in the S3 CoP website). Specifically, dedicated services to Thematic Partnerships are contained in the following image:
The first part of the afternoon was focused on fostering interregional cooperation and innovation investments by accelerating and strengthening innovation in European Innovation Ecosystems across the EU and addressing the innovation divide. The Flagship 3 of the New European Innovation Agenda and Innovation valleys, the Interregional Innovation Investment (I3) Instrument and The European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) were presented.
Final S3 Conference part was opened with an update from the CoR/JRC pilot action on Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI), which is considered as a bridge across different instruments and actions for innovation driven territorial transformation through a systemic approach.
The second round table versed on fostering FDI-SME ecosystems to boost SME productivity and innovation in EU countries and regions. OECD team introduced a Policy Toolkit that will provide governments with the necessary tools to strengthen FDI and SME linkages and their contribution to productivity and innovation. Consult it here: https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/industry-and-services/policy-toolkit-for-strengthening-fdi-and-sme-linkages_688bde9a-en
The day ended with the Closing of Wolfgang Munch (Deputy Head of Unit Smart and Sustainable Growth, Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy, European Commission) who recapped the main points occurred on the Conference.
About the S3 CoP:
The S3 CoP is DG REGIO’s source of support and knowledge sharing on the implementation of Smart Specialisation Strategies. It builds upon the decade-long experience on S3 design, implementation and monitoring.
Conceived under the Cohesion Policy of the European Commission, the Smart Specialisation approach helps regions to target their support to research and innovation on carefully defined “priority areas” that reflect the strengths and assets of the regions. It allows them to focus research and innovation actions on areas where there is a clear perspective for positive economic development on the ground.
The S3 CoP is open to all S3 stakeholders across regions in EU Member States, including practitioners, policymakers, researchers, businesses, governmental body in charge of S3 implementation, industry associations, and civil society organisations. This is a very timely moment, as the operationalisation of the EU Cohesion Policy for the 2021-2027 period is still in the early stages and the emphasis now will be on putting smart specialisation strategies into practice and delivering the necessary investments.