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External dimesions of smart specialisations: Opportunities and challenges for trans-regional and transnational cooperation in EU13

This S3 Working Papers No 09/2015 contributes to better understand trans-regional cooperation in EU-13
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The objective of this Paper is to bridge a gap in literature and contribute to better understanding of trans-regional cooperation in EU-13, countries that joined the European Union (EU) after 2004, within the context of smart specialisation.  It is argued that the relevance of fostering external dimension depends strongly on maturity of a particular national or regional innovation system.  This is closely linked to the question of capacity building and exploration of synergies between European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Horizon 2020 in EU-13.

This paper explores the issues of trans-regional and transnational collaboration in the context of smart specialisation in regions with the less developed research and development and innovation (R&D&I) systems, identified as the 13 countries (EU-13) that joined the European Union (EU) after 2004.  The paper proposes a systematic methodological approach to trans-regional and transnational cooperation and discusses how this can be utilized to build innovation capacities and enhance innovation potential in selected regions.  Specifically, it addresses following questions: what is conceptual approach to trans-regional cooperation within the context of Smart Specialisation?  What is the role of regional governments/national authorities? How regional authorities can deal with analysis of trans-regional opportunities, potential competitors and collaborators? Based on the analysis, what steps can policy-makers take to improve trans-regional cooperation?

Internationalization does not seem to be a crucial component in the design and development of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3), which is at odds with the strong dependence of the EU-13 on FDI and global value chains. In this Paper we consider the following issues related to linking smart specialisation and GVCs: (1) how to match regions to global value chains, (2) how patterns of upgrading can be promoted by smart specialisation and (3) how to identify the preconditions for ‘discovering' new value chains. We distinguish and discuss the main obstacles to the internationalization of smart specialisation and discuss ways to overcome them.  We highlight the policy action areas related to providing support for technology upgrading in relation to the internationalization of smart specialisation.  The Paper thus concludes by offering a discussion of policies to improve trans-regional cooperation in less developed R&I systems in short and long term.