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The potential of smart
specialisation strategies




Prof. Dominique Foray

Together with Prof Dominique Foray (Professor (em) of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) Prognos AG has prepared a Policy Brief on the potential of Smart Specialisation Strategies to contribute to structural and transformation processes. The Policy Brief emerged from the joint work for studies on the topic of Smart Specialisation Strategies for the European Commission. As a result, the Policy Brief shows that Smart Specialisation Strategies can make a important contributions to structural and transformation processes. At the same time, it is emphasised that the specific design of project calls within the framework of Smart Specialisation Strategies is central to the contribution of Smart Specialisation Strategies to structural and transformation processes.

It's all about implementation

The policy brief evaluates the potential of Smart Specialisation Strategies to contribute to the implementation of structural transformation processes for political decision-makers at the national and regional levels.

The results confirm that Smart Specialisation Strategies can make significant contributions to structural and transformation processes. However, the full potential is only realized when the new generation of innovation processes can effectively resolve the tension between planned (top-down) and decentralized (bottom-up) activities through effective process management.

Smart Specialisation Strategies are characterized by strong planning components. However, the planning logic of Smart Specialisation Strategies must be complemented by a bottom-up process. Space must be created for businesses to encounter specific problems, gaps, and opportunities in structural transformation itself.

Planning and bottom-up insights are, therefore, the inseparable logic of Smart Specialisation.

Furthermore, the paper emphasizes that transformation processes cannot be implemented solely through the determination of S3 priorities. A transformation roadmap must be developed and implemented through the use of the right policy instruments.

The paper shows, for example, that poorly designed project tenders can hinder effective transformations despite relevant S3 priorities.

The urgent recommendation is, therefore, to raise awareness among policymakers about the importance of properly designing project tenders so that the desired transformation can be effectively implemented

Our approach

The Policy Brief draws on the results of the study on prioritisation in Smart Specialisation Strategies in the EU and the follow-up study on Smart Specialisation Strategies in the EU. Among other things, a quantitative study design based on big data analysis was chosen to assess the key parameters of smart specialisation strategies.

Links and downloads

Policy Brief (PDF)

Previous studies

Smart Specialisation I Prognos

Follow-up study on smart specialisation strategies in the EU I Prognos

Project team: Dr. Jan Kramer, Lennart Galdiga

Last update: 7.11.2023

Do you have questions?

Your contact at Prognos

Dr Jan-Philipp Kramer

Vice Director, Head of EU Services

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Lennart Galdiga


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