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SMARTER 2020 Conference Webinar series: Connecting grand societal challenges with local goals in place-based innovation policy

General Information

SMARTER 2020 Conference Webinar series on "Smart Specialisation and Territorial Development: Connecting grand societal challenges with local goals in place-based innovation policy" is co-organised by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and RSA Europe.

Six webinars organised between 17 September and 3 December 2020

The Territorial Development Unit of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and RSA Europe are delighted to present a webinar series based on selected themes of the SMARTER 2020 Conference. In line with the measures to contain the diffusion of COVID-19, the physical event will be replaced by a series of six webinars held between 15 September and 3 December 2020.

Increasingly, innovation policies are framed around grand societal challenges and sustainable transformation. More traditional objectives of productivity enhancement, job creation and international competitiveness are accompanied by the search for solutions to environmental and social needs in line with the European Green Deal priority and the accomplishments of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved through the mobilisation of science, technology and innovation. This transformation is also gaining momentum in local and regional policy making, raising a number of issues in relation to the capacity of place-based industrial innovation policies to meet these goals.

What are the implications of this shift for place-based policy and instruments? What does the alignment of solutions to social and environmental problems with more traditional growth objectives imply? How can potential contradictions between different goals and dimensions (social, environmental and economic) can be resolved? Can we expect territorial policies to deliver on broad societal challenges, by providing solutions to those needs that are locally relevant?

A dreadful pandemic is currently sweeping the planet causing dramatic health, social and economic consequences. We need coordinated policy initiatives at international, national and regional level to mitigate the COVID-19 economic crisis and promote a swift recovery. How can place-based policies play a role in tackling the severe socio-economic impacts of COVID-19? How can they help territories discover new opportunities for more sustainable and inclusive economies?

Open to all, the SMARTER 2020 Webinar series is a forum for debating those issues. It seeks to foster a dialogue between practitioners, policy-makers and researchers.

Smart Specialisation provides a unique entry point for such debate. Smart Specialisation is a place-based EU policy promoting economic transformation by designing targeted investment in research and innovation. Building on a growing interest in this policy, the main principles and mechanisms of Smart Specialisation are travelling fast, attracting attention outside the European Union. At the same time, the Smart Specialisation approach is evolving, incorporating evidence on what worked and what did not, embracing a larger policy scope than just research and innovation and enriching its policy toolbox.

The SMARTER 2020 Webinar series will provide a comprehensive picture of the Smart Specialisation policy experience, including an evaluation of its results and an account of its recent developments both conceptually and empirically.

The webinars will also offer an opportunity to discuss and compare different territorial development approaches, exploring how they engage with the European Commission's priorities for 2019-2024 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Agenda and Presentations


More information coming soon: stay tuned with the S3 Platform news and website!

Webinar 1: “Place-based responses to the COVID-19 economic crisis” on 17 September 2020 from 10:00 to 12:00.

Stephen Quest, Director-General Joint Research Centre

Sally Hardy, CEO, Regional Studies Association, United Kingdom

Dominique Foray, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland - The Role of Smart Specialisation in post COVID-19 Times

Elvira Uyarra, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, United Kingdom

Laura Polverari, University of Padua, Italy

Mikel Landabaso, Director Growth and Innovation, Joint Research Centre, Spain


Manuel Laranja, ISEG, Lisbon School of Economics & Management, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal – Re-thinking the EDP Process in Times of Social Distancing

Anabela Santos, Joint Research Centre, Spain – The Role of Smart Specialisation in Tourism Recovery

Edurne Magro, Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Spain – Towards Recovery: Renewal and Reorientation as Regional Strategies for a Post COVID-19 Era

Karel Haegeman, B3 – Territorial Development, Joint Research Centre, Spain


Webinar 2: “Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability – opportunities for economic recovery and competitiveness” on 6 October 2020 - 9:30 - 11:30


Jennifer Casingena Harper, Malta Council for Science & Technology

Luke Georghiou, University of Manchester, UK

Philip McCann, University of Sheffield, UK

Luc Soete, Free University of Brussels, Belgium

Daria Tataj, Tataj Innovation

Johan Stierna, European Commission, Joint Research Centre


Webinar 3: “Smart Specialisation for Sustainable Development Goals” on 10 November 2020


Chux Daniels, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, UK, TBC;

Katerina Ciampi Stancova, European Commission, Joint Research Centre;

Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Technical University of Vienna & IIASA, Austria, TBC;

Monika Matusiak, European Commission, Joint Research Centre;

Michal Miedzinski, Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London, UK, TBC


Webinar 4: “Smart Specialisation: evidence, lessons, challenges and opportunities” on 24 November 2020


Francesco Prota, University of Bari, Italy;

Laura Polverari, University of Padua, Italy;

James Wilson, Deusto University and Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Spain;


Webinar 5: "Quality of life in European cities: are cities in Europe inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable?", (November - date to be confirmed)


Webinar 6: “Urban strategies and Smart Specialisation” , on 3 December 2020

Fabrizio Barca

Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University, United Kingdom

Margit Noll, JPI Urban Europe, Austria

Martina Pertoldi, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Italy


Online events
Further information: RSA website

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