Good Practices Good Practices

Smart specialisation strategies (S3) have been set as a pre-condition for using ESI Funds in the programming period 2014-2020. These strategies aim at assuring a more effective use of ESI funds in the field of research and innovation (R&I). As a result of this requirement, S3 have been adopted in all Member States at national or regional level; accordingly priorities for R&I have been identified across the EU.

To date, two in three S3 give priority to the regional innovation capacities and potential linked to energy transition actions meaning a direct effect in both Energy/Low Carbon Economy and Research and Innovation. This aspect raises the need of effective ways and means to implement S3 priorities in the field of Energy which could be approached from the following research question:

How practitioners of smart specialisation can combine policy action in R&I and energy?

To answer this question, the S3PEnergy has elaborated an inductive approach to identify good practices and has collected some preliminary cases of good practices framed in the implementation of energy priorities.

Definitions and criteria

A good practice is a practice that is effective in addressing a given problem and/or in reaching a certain goal. A good practice provides sources of inspiration for others confronted with similar problems and/or aiming at reaching similar goals. 

The criteria for selecting good practices in implementing S3 in the field of Energy include 3 types of criteria:

  1. Necessary Eligibility criteria (is the practice falling into the scope of the database?)
  2. Necessary Relevance criteria (is the practice a good practice according to S3 fundamentals?)
  3. Optional quality criteria (does the practice present remarkable features which are thought to enhance its effectiveness?)

Necessary eligibility criteria

  • Part of S3: the topic is included (under) the smart specialisation domain(s) listed in the strategy;
  • Use of ESIF for funding actions (in 2014-2020 period) under T01 (Strengthening research, technological development and innovation) and/or T04 (Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors) or To7e (Promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures);
  • Implemented: i.e. not at design stage only.

Necessary relevance criteria

  • Framed along the S3 concept: based on development and exploitation of critical mass of knowledge and economic activity in research organizations and companies in the region;
  • Innovative character: presence of product, process, organizational, system innovation or also social innovation. Thus not mere application of well-known technologies or techniques; going beyond the regional state-of-the-art (adaptive innovation is valid);
  • Minimum 3 out of 4 “pillars” of the quadruple helix involved: this refers to the involvement of research organisations, businesses, public authorities at various levels and civil society;
  • Outcome-oriented: expected impacts are at least spelled out, possibly quantified and/or monitored. It includes a definition of success along various dimensions linked to S3 and energy strategy targets (economy, energy performance consumption / production / reduction / greening…, social…). Quantitative if possible otherwise qualitative.

Optional quality criteria

  • Clear relevance to national and/or regional energy strategy: contributes to achieve goals set in those strategies, and is consistent with other programmes, projects and initiatives which are targeting the same goal;
  • Interactions between responsible agencies and/or authorities from different domains (R&D&I and energy): as the case crosses over at least two policy domains, joint consideration is being given from the responsible bodies from the relevant fields;
  • Synergetic use of several funds: public funding for the case makes smart use of various public funds, a.o. ESIF (including Interreg), H2020, EFSI, national, regional or local funding programmes…;
  • Ambitious: it is not limited to a single one-off project but is an integrated bundle of activities with transformative ambition and high impact potential. It may be seen in many cases as a programme rather than as an individual project. It is characterized as multi-sector/multi-activity (a.o. technology development, training, awareness-raising, capacity building, infrastructure, trade…);
  • Inter-regional cooperation dimension: it has linkages with actors in other regions or countries in order to increase its effectiveness;
  • Leading to private investments: it creates a leverage effect on private funds by incorporating businesses;
  • Sustainability beyond funding period: it is not overly dependent on public funding and includes, when relevant, a strategy for continuation beyond the public subsidy period;
  • Transferability of the practice: it draws lessons from implementation and disentangles the specific context conditions in view of the uptake of lessons by other regions/countries ;
  • Including a monitoring system: a systematic (and systemic when relevant) review of results and outcomes achieved is present along with the deployment of the practice, with a view of drawing lessons for the future.

Good Practices cases of implementing S3 in the field of Energy