Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can play a key role in the design and implementation of S3. They are among the few institutions that act as 'boundary spanners', bridging all three elements of the 'Knowledge Triangle' (Research, Education and Innovation).
The S3 Platform Policy Brief on Universities and Smart Specialisation shows how HEIs can build innovation capabilities in regions, and can play a much broader role than is usually considered.
However, this potential contribution has not been harnessed by many S3, especially in less developed regions where HEIs can have a particularly important role to play. This has been a major observation by the JRC when reviewing and monitoring the S3 and was also highlighted in a report by an expert group convened by DG Research and Innovation. These observations are behind an S3 Platform project called Higher Education for Smart Specialisation (HESS), which is undertaken in partnership with the Commission's DG Education and Culture.
The HESS project
Starting in March 2016 for an initial twelve months, the HESS project focuses on how higher education and HEIs can contribute to the successful implementation of S3. It has two broad aims:
- To help build innovation capabilities by strengthening the role of HEIs in regional partnerships.
- To promote the integration of higher education with research, innovation and regional development in S3 policy mixes, particularly in the use of European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds.
The main activity of HESS is 'action research' and capacity building in selected European regions. Two regions have been selected as pilots: Navarra in Spain, and North East Romania. In addition, we will be monitoring the involvement of HEIs in S3 implmentation and spending on education by the ESI funds on a more global scale.
- Understand and support HEIs to align their functions of human capital development with S3 priorities.
- Analyse how synergetic and strategic use of public funds can allow HEIs to better contribute to S3 implementation.
- Foster change within HEIs to take on a boundary spanning role in implementing S3.
- Promote external cooperation between the HEIs and other actors in regional partnerships.
- Co-produce knowledge within a Community of Practice and disseminate to a large policy audience.
18/2016 Elisabetta Marinelli, Susana Elena-Perez, Josep Alias
03/2013 Louise Kempton, John Goddard, John Edwards, Fatime Barbara Hegyi and Susana Elena-Pérez
Universities and Smart Specialisation: challenges, tensions and opportunities for the innovation strategies of european regions
2013 John Goddard, Louise Kempton, Paul Vallance
2011 European Commission - DG REGIO