Smart Specialisation Strategies and the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process

Beyond EDP’s final conference shared what has been learned and achieved collectively since this Interreg Europe project’s beginning in 2016. The project enabled otherwise unconnected European regional policymakers to learn and exchange together over many years. Their primary focus throughout these years has been to analyse the design and implementation of some of the processes that underpin their regions’ approaches to Cohesion Policy (structural funds) use. Notably, these regions, which are already engaged in and producing Regional Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3), sought to improve one important aspect that underpins their approach to economic development strategy - the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process.

The Entrepreneurial Discovery Process, defined as critical for the proper implementation of RIS3, is ultimately about inclusion and engagement of local stakeholders embedded in Europe’s regions. These stakeholders include policymakers, the private sector, academia and civil society. By using this process as a key component part in RIS3, regions with their stakeholders have been able to embark on a ‘self-discovery process’ in search of knowledge-intensive areas for potential economic growth. In short, improving the strategies behind the policies affecting economic development, and research and innovation policies.

The keynote speaker of the event was Mr. Mikel Landabaso, Director of Growth and Innovation at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. Mr. Landabaso is a prominent expert in EU regional policy with significant public policy experience related to Smart Specialisation Strategies. During the final conference, Mr. Landabaso shared an S4 approach with new focus on sustainability: “The RIS4 – we added sustainability – must be the vehicle for this huge transformation, for the refund and the recovery. Especially the EDP, which is the DNA defining this methodology”.

The Beyond EDP final conference also offered attendants the opportunity to get familiar with the most innovative best practice solutions from this project. One of the best practices discussed was the Matrix, a good governance idea initially created in Östergötland (Sweden) and now successfully implemented in the Northern Netherlands by SNN (Northern Netherlands Alliance). The Northern Netherlands adapted the governance model to suit the needs of their region in order to increase coherence within the innovation ecosystem. Luc Hulsman (SNN) expressed the benefits of joining this Interreg Europe project: “We launched our RIS3 to create a place where people would trust each other to exchange project ideas at an early stage. The BeyondEDP project is an example of how collaboration in an Interreg Europe project can have significant impact on a region.”

All presentations and related files can be found in the Library Final Conference.