Project summary

RELOS3 focuses on implementing regional Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3) in a local context by actively involving local authorities, innovation actors and companies.  The local level is often overlooked, however it is crucial to involve this level in innovation strategies.


The project has six partners from six countries:

  • Tartu City Goverment (Estonia)
  • Metropolitan City of Bologna (Italy)
  • Malta Enterprise Corporation (Malta)
  • Local authority of Emmen (the Netherlands)
  • Wielkopolska Region (Poland)
  • Economic Development Agency of Sabadell (Sabadell, Spain, Lead Partner)

Most partners have a local ecosystem connected to industrial systems, advanced manufacturing, applied industrial design and ICT.   However, other industry-related specialisations are not excluded.  

Main activities

RELOS3 is an unique opportunity to develop and contrast local RIS3 strategies. The findings will contribute to improve the Operational Programmes of the European Regional Development Funds, specifically to promote delivery of innovation at the lowest (local) level. The partners will achieve this objective by:

  • Demonstrating the importance of the role of local authorities' involvement in the RIS3 strategies implementation.
  • Analysing the partners current situation by elaborating a detailed baseline and final study., including an evaluation survey and collection of good pratices.
  • Producing RAPs on the basis of the transnational exchange and co-produced with the support of Local Stakeholder Groups.
  • Involving the policy owners and the relevant local/regional actors and make them work together as a “local stakeholder group”.
  • Undertaking capacity building activities for policy owners, policy makers and relevant stakeholders.

Exchange and analysis

RELOS3 project will divide the interregional learning exchange and analysis in the following themes:

  • Alignment of local (supra local) economic development strategies to RIS3 strategies
  • The participation of private sector in territorial innovation operations to pave the way of RIS3 deployment
  • Promotion of cooperation between EU regions with similar or complementary smart specialisations
  • Sustainability of Quadruple Helix Collaboration (Industry, R+D and Academy, public administration and citizens) beyond RIS3 strategy 

A brochure of the project can be downloaded through this link.


from 1 Jan 2017
to 31 Dec 2021

Research and innovation

What policy instruments does the project address?

The Catalan Smart Specialitzation Strategy (RIS3CAT) will be deployed through the OP Catalunya ERDF 2014-2020, through its Priority Axis 1.  Of particular interest are the Territorial Competiveness Specialisation Projects (TCSP), led by local authorities.  These pay particular attention to public-private cooperation in order to create an innovation ecosystem.  Sabadell will focus on the “Industrial Systems” specialisation.

RELOS3 will improve these projects through Sabadell by transfer of good practices in the following aspects:

  • The link between TSCP and other EU subregional RIS3 projects with the same or complementary smart specialisation is not foreseen under the OP. RELOS3 will propose improvements in the policy instrument1 in order to connect them in several fields (R+D system, businesses, local and regional authorities…).
  • ROP does not foreseen a procedure to link locally-led projects with “Communities” projects (R+D led and part of the regional operational programmes), although communities are supposed to add high value to specialised ecosystems. RELOS3 will collect procedures to improve collaboration among the stakeholders within our specialised ecosystem and those belonging to Communities.


1 Policy instruments are interventions made by government/public authorities in local, national or international economies which are intended to achieve outcomes which conform to the objectives of public policy.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Economic Development Agency of Sabadell 

RELOS3 targets Objective 4 of the Bologna Metropolitan Strategic Plan 2.0 (PSM).  This involves the promotion of entrepreneurship, innovation of supply chains and manufacturing. The PSM 2.0 and its Objective 4 is related to the Emilia-Romagna RIS3, in order to avoid resource leaks and to favour shared addressed, concrete and effective objective.

In fact the key sectors identified at regional level by S3 reflect the Bologna's specializations and growing sectors. It aims at fostering new production concepts and new business models, giving value and strength to the development of highly innovative areas with high potential for growth and employment absorption.

This will also enhance the strategic link with training and research, in order to strengthen the Science, Technology and Engineering culture which is typical in the area. It fosters a public and private system of integrated services in support of the promotion of entrepreneurship, with the aim in 2020 to increase our business start-ups by 20 percent.

In order to consolidate the Bologna positioning improvement targets for PSM are:

To improve industrial specialization, in particular advanced manufacturing, sectors with high growth potential and Science, Technology and Engineering jobs for a better matching between offer and needs of enterprises.

To promote innovation and improve the link between research and industry by categorizing the support services, through a detailed action plan, involving the major local actors. This improvement is aligned with specific objective 3 of RELOS3 project.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Metropolitan City of Bologna

The Operational Programme for the Wielkopolska Region 2014-2020, Thematic objective 1 and 3, Priority axis 1 main features are to make tight connections between support of R&D technology and innovation with the competitiveness of the SME. It is designed to facilitate management and development of regional smart specializations.

The current presence of RIS3 deployment strategy in Operational Programe - Priority Axis 1 together with the monitoring of present and possible smart specializations could be improved:

Wielkopolska is one of the most diverse regions in Poland. Distinct differences are noticeable at the level of sub-regions so there is a need to fit the innovation policy to the local specifics and to go deeper with the Entrpeneurial Discovery Progress to subregional and local levels.

One of the strategic RIS3 programmes “Proinnovative local government” aiming to deploy RIS3 and EDP at the local level, as well as building up innovation ecosystems, should have a more important reflection in Operation Programmes.

The existing monitoring system of RIS3 and the underlying Operational Programme could pay more attention to identify possible new smart specializations within the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process.

Improved monitoring mechanisms through RELOS3 would be true value for the regional policy in the present and the future financial period as Operational Programme could reward projects that covers subregional specializations in special in the industrial area, particularly if they involve the Quadruple Helix in its entirety.

Which partners are working on this?

The Northern Netherlands Specialisation Strategy (RIS3NNL) will be deployed through the Operational Programme North.  For RELOS3, especially Priority Axis 1: To promote research, technological development and innovation is of interest, and particularly priority axis 1b: Innovation 2020.

The Quadruple Helix is present within RIS3NNL.  Companies, knowledge institutions, citizens and government (at all levels) are connected and work together.  They are all geared around smarter innovation.  The Northern Netherlands wants to be a ‘smart region’ and thinks of itself as ‘Living Lab’.

In Emmen, the chemistry sector is the dominant sector, it is a Key Enabling Technology for advanced materials.  Although the strategic overview and focus on the horizon has been important for setting up, the practical implementation can sometimes be tough.  Even for big local authorities in Emmen it can be difficult to develop suitable local strategies.

Important reasons for Emmen to be involved in the project and to improvement the current situation is that currently, RIS3NNL does not foresee a procedure to link projects with funding from other programmes or initiatives (from public sources such as the EU, national and provincial programmes, but also crowd-funding, or cooperatives). By aligning and creating more flexible cooperation between these type projects with hybrid funding, the impact of actions will increase.

In Emmen itself, particularly the chemistry sector is important.  Developing the green chemistry and feeding this back into the OP could be a real asset to the PI.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Local authority of Emmen

Priority 2 (Tartu is a city of smart entrepreneurship) of the policy instrument includes three objectives and the current project would mainly focus on two of them:

  • The enterprises in Tartu are of great vitality and create high added value (Objective E6)
  • Tartu has attractive investment environment and is the best place for starting business in Estonia (Objective E7)

Among other issues the policy instrument notes the importance of developing networks between public and private actors which links with the objectives of RELOS3. Tartu targets concrete smart specialisation sectors selected on a national level, e.g. ICT, advanced manufacturing, and biotechnology. The main goal is to increase the region's economic growth and provide jobs by supporting a shift towards high technology sectors.

It would be necessary to improve the policy instrument by:



  • Defining a more systematic roadmap and mechanisms for the city government to enable and boost a desired change in the future.
  • Strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region to support companies in order to increase the number of sustainable and successful companies and jobs in the fields of smart specialisation
  • More result-oriented. If the business environment influenced by the city is not good enough then the local companies might move out (the number jobs would decrease) and obviously it would be nearly impossible to attract new and high-tech companies.
Which partners are working on this?
  • Tartu City Government

Malta Enterprise will address three specific parts of the Operational Programme for European Funding in the nation ERDF OP.  These are:

  • Investing in research, technological development & innovation.
  • Enhancing R&I infrastructure and capacities to develop R&I excellence, and promoting centres of competence, in particular those of European interest.
  • Stimulating participation in R&D&I through the development of the necessary public infrastructure in line with the Smart Specialisation Strategy.

This instrument aims to support actions to develop public infrastructure for the creation of multi-disciplinary research to enable Malta’s increased participation in research, resulting in increased collaboration across sectors as well as in the Quadruple Helix.  Thematic specialisation areas mentioned in the National Research and Innovation Strategy 2020 include: maritime, aviation, health and resource-efficient buildings.



-Is necessary to assist the policy owner to improve appropriate tools for RIS3 deployment at local level as a part of the regional innovation policy

-Suggest private-public initiatives in line with the Regional Smart Specialization

-Assist other R&D projects led by public sector in the framework of Smart Specialization and create a closer collaboration network with all the relevant innovation actors in the country.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Malta Enterprise Corporation