Four partners from three BRIDGES regions (Kainuu, Lubelskie and Uusimaa) cooperated and submitted an abstract which was selected to be presented and discussed during the 1st SMART conference.

The aim of our contribution to the 1st SMART conference, was to explain and document the methodology we follow in BRIDGES project towards improving the effectiveness of RIS3 implementation, through better investments and exploitation of research excellence.

As stated in the project proposal, BRIDGES is dedicated to regions which face mismatches between RIS3 productive & RDI bases, distance from & better exploitation of research excellence as a path to further specialisation, and restricted resources towards RIS3, the combined result of which is shown in the weak impact of the RIS3 implementation. All BRIDGES regions share bio-based economy among their RIS3 industries and are modest, moderate or innovation followers, with the exception of Uusimaa region which is innovation leader. The innovation follower (also modest and moderate) regions aim at path renewal and /or path creation; the innovation leader region faces research lock ins and need for renewal of certain innovation promotion processes.

BRIDGES  methodology explores the potential of strategic, sustainable, partnerships, including interregional ones between the innovation advanced and the other regions leading, through innovation partnerships and associated policy responses, to improved relatedness, embeddedness and critical mass.Thus, while relying on localised, bottom-up approaches supporting RIS3 implementation, BRIDGES also benefits from extended  regional innovation systems, connecting resources –to- resources (knowledge to raw materials for example), potential-to-potential (research to performing businesses) and excellence–to-regional absorptiveness potential (university-to-industry), within and beyond regional or even national territories. Ideally, the shared RIS3 theme, together with the institutional, cognitive and technological proximities, alltogether facilitate interregional exchanges in the direction of good practice exchange, identification of cooperation patterns and improvement of the RIS3 effectiveness in all partner regions.

The participation in the 1st SMART Conference was above all an important  learning experience. We had the opportunity to meet other regions & discuss with them their expetiences, listen to acadmics & consider new concepts when it comes to RIS3 implementation. For example, we consider interesting how Spanish and Portuguese regions plan and implement their RIS3 through industry-related focus groups, linking to them entrepreneurship measures and excellence. It was also an important dissemination opportunity for our project.

BRIDGES was presented during the session on Less Favoured Regions. The discussion, besides the presentations of each participant, focused on five common themes of concern:  1)Are there specific barriers to the effective design, implementation and update of smart specialisation strategies in less developed regions? 2) What are critical success factors for successful RIS3 design and implementation when facing such barriers? 3) How can smart specialisation help address broader structural problems (related to e.g. RDI, education, business environment, governance, transnational cooperation)? 4) How can RIS3 help improve our understanding of regional economic disparities, of slow and limited growth in (EU) regions, and of structural factors and macro-economic framework conditions limiting economic growth?

Thus BRIDGES became more visibile as a member of a Europe-wide community of inititiatives with similar priorities. We identified projects wirth similar objectives, but different approaches, allowing us to work in parallel and, along the way, compare results and methods.  We retained, for example, for further exploration and exchange thematic areas such as university–to-industry interactions, knowledge spillovers, RIS3 paths (path renewal methodologies) and interregional strategic cooperation context. The cooperation continues and we hope to have to cntrib ute some results as of the next semester (Spring 2017).