Project platforms to support smart specialisation in the Baltic Sea region
13 Jun 2017

“Smart specialisation is a main driver for change in Europe, combining regional efforts with innovation,” said Jyrki Katainen, European Commission’s Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness to 900 people who gathered at the Smart Regions 2.0 Conference in Helsinki on 1-2 June. Interreg Baltic Sea Region presented its ideas on how to foster smart specialisation in regions by bringing people from different projects together in project platforms.

© IB.SH / Sebastian Hentsch

Interreg Baltic Sea Region invited representatives of several EU funded programmes, EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR), regions, and projects to discuss “Moving towards smart specialisation 2.0 - added value of cooperating in project platforms”. The main idea of the workshop was to analyse the actual needs, expectations and interests of potential project platform partners. Smart specialisation is a complex issue which is understood differently in different regions and project platforms could meet a need for closer cooperation in order to help to tackle the challenge together in a more efficient manner.

Platform for regions to learn from each other and influence the policy

The platform could serve as a fine “meeting place” for EU funded projects where they could discuss their particular needs for cooperation in the Baltic Sea region but also exchange best practices and experiences in implementing smart specialisation strategies. “Stay small and focused”, as advised by Benoît Dalbert from Interreg Europe, could help to keep the cooperation realistic and its results - more fruitful. Niclas Forsling, coordinator of the EUSBSR Policy Area Innovation, highlighted the necessity to develop matchmaking approaches. The platform could link regions with different level of smart specialisation advancement, and support trust building among the partners involved in the smart specialisation process.

An important role of the project platform would be boosting the projects’ achievements and promoting the good results and good practices on the EU level, including the support for the work of the Committee of Regions. It could also feed into the post-2020 discussions and advance the implementation of research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation strategies (RIS3) on the EU and national level.

Way ahead

The workshop, similarly to earlier workshops on Blue Growth and clear waters topics, brought in a lot of useful ideas and recommendations on how to shape project platforms. All these discussions will help the Managing Authority/Joint Secretariat as well as the Programme countries to set expectations and formulate requirements for an upcoming call for project platforms to be announced this autumn.