European Commission guides related to S3 European Commission guides related to S3

 In addition to the RIS3 guide the European Commission has published several other guides related to aspects of the S3, including the role of universities, broadband investment, the use of incubators and a guide to funding for opportunities for research and innovation.

The delivery instruments and horizontal approaches illustrated in Annex II of the RIS3 Guide are to be considered as the 'branches' of the smart specialisation 'tree', whose 'trunk' is represented by this guide. The 'trunk' feeds and nurtures the 'branches' but the latter form self-standing elements of the whole policy array of tools made available to policymakers, who can ultimately combine them following their strategic vision and building up their own policy mix for responding to their needs and expectations.

These branches are to be supported by a 'family' of guides on each topic that are available on this webpage.

General research & innovation system building & policy tools

Guide on Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3 Guide)

This guide is targeted at Structural Funds Managing Authorities, policy-makers and regional development professionals.  It sets out the concept of smart specialisation and provides orientations on how to develop research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3). Guidance is structured around six practical steps:
1) Analysing the innovation potential
2) Setting out the RIS3 process and governance
3) Developing a shared vision
4) Identifying the priorities
5) Defining an action plan with a coherent policy mix
6) Monitoring and evaluating
The guide also presents in a compact form some main delivery instruments that could be used to implement smart specialisation strategies, in particular cluster support, university-enterprise cooperation, SME innovation support, centres of competence and research infrastructures, public procurement of innovation etc. Some of these policy tools and challenges related to RIS3 are further explained in thematic guides. The guide is designed as a 'living document', which will be regularly completed and up-dated based on comments we receive and issues arising from its practical application within the EU Regional and Cohesion Policy.

Enabling synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020 and other research, innovation and competitiveness-related Union programmes - Guidance for policy-makers and implementing bodies

The guide on synergies between different EU R&I related programmes is an important new addition to the relevant guidance for policy-makers and implementing bodies and was prepared on the basis of an extensive work of the inter-service working group co-chaired by DG REGIO and DG Research and Innovation, with participation of the DG ENTR, DG CONNECT, DG EAC, DG EMPL, DG AGRI, DG ENER, DG MARE, DG JRC, the Bureau of European Policy Advisers, the Eureka Secretariat, the REA, and by Dr. Margaretha Mazura, Secretary General of the Forum of e-Excellence. The web-version of the guide will in the course of the financial period 2014-2020 be enriched with good practice examples of synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020, COSME, Erasmus+, Creative Europe, digital services CEF and possibly other EU programmes.


Setting up, managing and evaluating EU Science And Technology Parks - An advice and guidance report on good practice (May 2014)

Science and technology park (STP) activity across the EU has approximately doubled over the last 11-12 years, driven by the growth of the longer standing parks and the emergence of new parks. There is now an estimated 366 STPs in the EU member states that manage about 28 million m2 of completed building floor space hosting circa 40,000 organisations that employ approximately 750,000 people, mostly in high value added jobs. In the period from 2000 – 2012 total capital investment into EU's STPs has been circa €11.7 billion (central estimate). The central estimate of total capital investment on buildings for those EU STPs that secured ERDF was €5.6 billion, of which approximately €1.6 billion was ERDF giving a 3.6 leverage ratio. Approximately 70% of all STP investment made in areas where STPs believed ERDF was accessible to them were assisted by ERDF finance. In addition, during the same period, STPs have expended circa €3 billion on the professional business support and innovation services they either deliver or finance to assist both their tenants and other similar knowledge based businesses in their locality.
Increasingly, the reasons why STPs are sound investments for public sector support are becoming better understood and articulated. The evidence base shows that better STPs are not simply the landlords of attractive and well specified office style buildings. Rather, they are complex organisations, often with multiple owners having objectives aligned with important elements of economic development public policy as well as an imperative to be financially self-sustaining in the longer term.

New Practical Guide to EU Funding Opportunities for Research and Innovation (Funding opportunities until 2013)

This Guide provides potential recipients of EU funding for research and innovation with the practical information they need to access this funding. It also provides decision-makers with a full picture of all the funding opportunities available until 2013.

The complexity of the present landscape has led the European Commission to propose to bring together the full range of research and innovation financing instruments within a common strategic framework under the future multi-annual financial framework. With a common set of simplified rules and procedures and a single set of funding instruments, it offers the potential to make EU funding more effective and increase its impact, while making it easier to access for participants. The common strategic framework for research and innovation, together with revamped structural funds while allow us to swiftly move forward with the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Connecting Universities to Regional Growth: A Practical Guide

This guide is intended to help improve the contribution of universities to regional development, with a view to strengthening the economic, social and territorial cohesion, in a sustainable way. While the primary target users of the guide are the Managing Authorities, it is expected that Regional Authorities and other bodies engaged with local and regional development will also find it of value.

The guide bridges three knowledge and policy domains – education, research and innovation - the so called "knowledge triangle". Public authorities seeking to mobilise universities in support of regional development need some knowledge of all three domains, in particular national and regional policy makers involved in designing and delivering innovation strategies for smart specialisation as well as Managing Authorities designated by the Member States for implementing the Operational Programmes of the Cohesion Policy. 


The Smart Guide to Service Innovation

The guide aims to illustrate how strategic regional public support can offer small and medium-sized enterprises a favourable environment and support them to better capitalise on service innovation in view of staying competitive in global value chains that include both manufacturing and services.

Services and the service sector are increasingly important growth motors in the economy and account for more than two thirds of employment and gross value added generated by the EU.

Service innovation is in fact a driver of growth and structural change across the whole economy. It helps to make the entire economy more productive and provides fuel for innovation in other industries. It even has the potential to create new growth poles and lead markets that have a macro-economic impact.

Service innovation thus can bring about structural and economic change in our societies by transforming the way we live, do business and interact with each other.


How can cultural and creative industries contribute to economic transformation through smart specialisation?

Cultural and creative industries are in a strategic position to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in all EU regions and cities. While some EU regions have been very good at tapping into this extraordinary potential as a way to promote socio-economic development - including through the use of EU Structural Funds -, it however appears that many others have not been making most of this potential.

The objective of this Policy Handbook is to better sensitize local, regional and national authorities as well as the cultural community of the potential of cultural and creative industries in boosting regional and local development. The Handbook intends to help them in formulating local, regional and national strategies for cultural and creative industries. It also aims to serve as a tool for the planning and implementation of a strategic use of the EU support programmes, including the Structural Funds, to foster the potential of culture for local, regional, national development and the spill-over effects on the wider economy.

The target group for the Handbook are the policymakers at local, regional and national level responsible for both cultural and economic planning as well as those responsible for the planning of the EU Structural Funds.

The Guide to Multi-Benefit Cohesion Policy Investments in Nature and Green Infrastructure

The objective of this guide is threefold. First, showing that investments in nature, biodiversity and green infrastructure are relevant for cohesion policy. Second, emphasising how investments in nature and green infrastructure can actually contribute to several policy objectives and deliver multiple benefits, in particular socio-economic development. Third, assisting authorities and stakeholders with practical recommendations to improve the delivery of cohesion policy programmes and projects.
This guide underlines the crucial interconnections which exist between nature, society and the economy. Adaptation to climate change, prevention of natural disasters, preservation of water quality and quantity and jobs in the tourism or agro-food sector are intimately linked. It is about ensuring this integrated approach is followed when working on investments in nature and green infrastructure. 

Connecting Smart and Sustainable Growth through Smart Specialisation

A practical guide for ERDF Managing Authorities (November 2012)

The Europe 2020 strategy is built on the three objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth to be implemented as 'three mutually reinforcing priorities'. In order to deliver on these goals and provide a response to the economic and financial crisis, it is of utmost importance that all involved actors connect these areas of action, involving all relevant stakeholders, developing synergies and boosting the added-value of public investments.

To promote a more resource efficient, greener and more competitive economy it is clear that the way ahead has to include significant innovation: sustainable growth needs to go hand in hand with smart growth in order for the EU and its citizens to reap the full benefits of a switch to the green economy.



Driving energy efficient innovation through procurement

This guide has been drafted for the Commission's DG Enterprise and Industry by the SMART SPP consortium, c/o ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and is aimed at assisting public authorities in becoming "innovation-friendly" – that is achieving the most innovative, energy efficient solutions within their procurement actions, particularly through increased dialogue with suppliers and producers. For the purposes of this guide an "innovative, energy efficient solution" can be considered as one which meets your needs with substantially increased energy efficiency leading to reduced related emissions of CO2 equivalents in comparison to currently available solutions.
The guide presents advice on how public authorities can make their procurement activities more innovation friendly.


Guide to Social Innovation

Social innovations are new ideas (products, services and models) that simultaneously meet social needs (care, education, employment, work organisation, urban, environment …) more effectively than alternatives and create new social relationships or collaborations. Social innovations are social in both their ends and their means (user-driven, co-creation, civil society involvement, …). They are innovations that are not only good for society but also enhance society's capacity to act.

The guide contains: (i) practical examples; (ii) a 10 step model for methods that help developing and scaling up social innovations, and (iii) information on ERDF and ESF (and PSCI) support possibilities that can be seized in the forthcoming programming period.

Innovation - How to convert research into commercial success?

The report includes two studies on the commercialisation process and innovation successes in EU-funded projects in the field of industrial technologies, as well as an innovation management guide for practitioners. A section analysing EU-funded research projects in the field of industrial technologies looks at the various routes to innovation and analyses the impact factors of successful commercialisation in EU-funded R&D projects in industrial technologies. Case studies on knowledge transfer and market oriented exploitation are also provided.
A section on analysis of innovation successes in the field of industrial technologies looks at various ways in which results of research projects in this area have been promoted and exploited. Recommendations are included here on how to foster innovation at all stages of the innovation cycle, to expand on the exploitation side of projects, and to improve the entrepreneurial strategies and capacities of project partners. The final part of the report aims to provide researchers with a better understanding of the innovation process - a key feature for projects to be funded under the 'Industrial Leadership' pillar of Horizon 2020. The report concludes with recommendations on how to address innovation issues at proposal stage and during the project lifecycle. The report can be accessed here on the EC's Industrial Technologies website:

SME innovation
European Assistance for Innovation Procurement

eafip will assist public procurers (ministries, local authorities, universities, hospitals, public utility companies, etc.) to implement innovation procurements (PCP / PPI) for ICT based solutions across the European Union.

Fostering SMEs growth through digital transformation

This guide is addressed to national, regional and local stakeholders interested in promoting regional innovation and competitiveness through the use of information and communication technology (ICT), with a special focus on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It introduces an EU initiative which aims to improve the framework conditions for the smart use of ICT in specific sectors and offers suggestions on how the results of these initiatives could be exploited by follow-up actions in other regions, to further advance the smart use of ICT in Europe. It should be of interest to all regions, in particular regions with a strong base in agriculture & food, textile & clothing, automotive, transport & logistics, tourism or construction as these sectors were covered by the six projects under the EU initiative. However, the methods developed are also applicable in other industries.

Guidance for public authorities on Public Procurement of Innovation

The European Union is actively supporting Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) through a number of policies, linked to the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
Procurement of Innovation Platform and the ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability with  support of the Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry of the European Commission have prepared a guide on PPI which aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the legal and practical dimensions of PPI in language clear and accessible to all readers. The guide is aimed primarily at those responsible for planning and executing procurement procedures (procurers). It offers detailed information about the ‘why, what and how' of PPI, including case studies from public authorities across Europe, explanations of procedures, definitions and answers to common questions. It may also be of interest to policy makers, consultants, private companies and others who have a stake in successful PPI.

Regional policy for smart growth of SMEs

The purpose of this guide is to extract policy lessons from the past decades of Structural Fund, national and regional support for SMEs into a comprehensive guide with the aim to help ERDF managing authorities and regional penholders of any RIS3 design a policy mix that supports enterprises in maximising objectives and opportunities. The guide draws not only on SME specific policy experiences, but spans across a wide range of policies, including research, innovation, cluster, state aid, internal market, education and training.
This guide highlights, in particular, that SME competitiveness in Europe relies heavily on innovation and thus the successful RIS3 implementation and the quality of its design and delivery mechanisms for financial and non-financial support services. In line with the 2014-2020 ERDF thematic priorities, these support services should enhance R&D+I activities or strengthen enterprise competitiveness. This guide provides thoughts, tips and ideas on how to achieve this.

The Smart Guide to Innovation-Based Incubators (IBI)

Innovation-based incubation is not the most recent subject in Europe per se. it is over a quarter of a century that the European Commission has triggered the phenomena through the establishment of policies and actions aimed at boosting innovation within Europe as a method to support regional development practices and SME competitiveness.

It is nowadays possible to understand what are the key elements of their success, what to take into consideration when a region, or a local territory, is thinking to resort to this tool to strengthen and carry out policies for innovation and SME support, and, mostly, what to do and what not to do when positioning, engineering and organizing an innovation-based incubator (IBI).

The aim of the Guide is to provide the local stakeholders of a region including the Managing Authorities of Cohesion Policy Funds an insight on the scopes of IBIs and on the paths and steps needed to set up successful ones.

Building Entrepreneurial Mindsets and Skills in the EU

Transversal competences like creativity, sense of initiative and entrepreneurship are vital for innovation to reach the market. Entrepreneurship skills and attitudes should therefore be fostered in students and researchers to develop their proactivity, flexibility, autonomy, the capacity to manage projects and achieve results.

Entrepreneurship programmes provide an excellent opportunity to connect the education systems to the local economy and gives incentives for students to remain in a region.

The guide includes:
  • Key features of current practice in entrepreneurship training
  • Involvement of teachers, business and private organisations
  • The Oslo Manual to Entrepreneurship training
  • Good practice examples

Supporting the internationalisation of SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the European economy. Within the EU they account for 99 % of all businesses, 67 % of all jobs in the private sector, as much as 85 % of all newly created jobs and some 59 % of the value added by the economy. Making international contacts opens up new markets for SMEs and has the potential to boost SME competitiveness and growth considerably. In this guidebook the term ‘internationalisation' refers to all activities that put SMEs into a meaningful business relationship with a foreign partner: exports, imports, foreign direct investment (FDI — relocation or outsourcing), international subcontracting and international technical cooperation. It can take place at cross-border level, at transnational level inside the EU or at international level beyond the EU.


Digital growth


Broadband Investment Guide

This document helps local, regional and national authorities to develop long-term development plans to bring fast internet to their communities. The handbook gives practical tips to support public authorities in the preparation of broadband investment projects, including those co-financed from the European Structural and Investment Funds and the Connecting Europe Facility.

The guide (1) lists the investment alternatives when developing broadband; (2) advises public authorities how to take a long-term investment perspective when they develop a broadband plan; (3) provides a list of choices when choosing a type of infrastructure, an investment model, a financial model and the financing tools available; and (5) suggests how to involve citizens, collaborate with other broadband developers, neighbouring municipalities and regions, and how to monitor and evaluate broadband investment.



The Digital Agenda Toolbox

This guidance document provides support to regional and national authorities to develop a thorough understanding of the digital growth potential stemming from the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE). It highlights the opportunities Information and Communication Technology (ICT) entails as a key element in their national or regional research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) and related Operational Programmes (OPs). At the same time, this Toolbox provides guidance for the fulfilment of the DAE-related ex-ante conditionalities that will form the basis for using European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) for ICT investments. It thus complements the RIS3 Guide and other related policy documents such as the Guide on Broadband Investment. The Toolbox furthermore provides hands-on assistance for developing a strategic policy framework for digital growth by discussing the do's and don'ts of the process and giving examples of good practises.

Strategies for digital growth can build on an ICT-specific policy framework that encompasses one or several documents and also incorporates related prior policies. Such a framework can be a standalone document or may be incorporated in broader research and innovation strategies. Regardless of which option is chosen, this Toolbox provides guidance on how to design a policy framework to reinforce competitiveness, improve social, economic and territorial cohesion while contributing to the objectives set out within the Digital Agenda for Europe, and the National Reform Programmes where applicable.

More Reference Documents issued by the European Commission or other bodies are available from the Stairway to Excellence pages.