The Future of Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies: Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient

Contracting Party: The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) (under the Framework Contract No. CDR/2021/C3/1/SEDEC/LOT2/1) 

Period: 2022-2023

URL: The Future of Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies: Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient 


This study, co-authored with Trilateral Research Limited, is centred around the Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3). Linked to the EU Cohesion policy, the S3 aims to reduce disparities between the EU Member States and their regions on specific priorities related to digital and environmental transition.

In this regard, the study provides an inventory of the S3 strategies for two regions per EU Member State, which are clustered into four groups according with their innovation potential: emerging innovators, moderate innovators, strong innovators, and innovation leaders. Additionally, an index is proposed to measure the convergence of the S3 with new emerging dimensions. The specific emerging aspects are the following:

  • Sustainability, with reference to the twin (digital and green) transition.
  • Resilience, focusing on the main challenges generated by the megatrends (e.g., climate change and associated environmental issues, technological transformation, the crisis of the democratic values, and demographic decline, with reference mainly to the UN SDGs).
  • Inclusiveness of all societal actors through the promotion of partnerships and collaboration amongst the public sector, the industry, the academia and, most importantly, civil society, for designing a shared vision for the regional programming (e.g., EDP).

Ten case studies are afterwards presented, as a result of a consultation held with selected Local and Regional Authorities. The study highlights the importance of the Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) for achieving economic and territorial cohesion in Europe. Regions demonstrate a strong belief in the effectiveness of the S3, and the current model is considered efficient.

Finally, recommendations are provided to the European Commission and the Local and Regional Authorities for fostering the convergence of these new S3 dimensions in the territorial strategic planning.