One of the provisions of the Tuscany RIS3 monitoring system was to conduct in 2018 a Mid Term Review (MTR) of the Strategy, replicating the EDP activities carried out in 2013.
When drawing up the first version of RIS3, regional innovation clusters had been asked to organise scouting workshops with enterprises, research and tech-transfer centres, according to specific rules of engagement, in order to detect main investments opportunities. Similarly during the MTR, they have been called upon to discuss the existing technological roadmaps or, in certain instances, define new research and innovation trajectories.
Very often regional innovation policies, although designed on a place-based EDP, end up delivering innovation policy instruments with spatially-blind effects. In order to avoid uneven outcomes, the MTR promoted a stronger focus on the territorial dimension of the Strategy, with the aim of exploiting the cohesive potential of Regional innovation policies.
For this reason a “Territorial Proofing” of the expected impacts of the revised Strategy has been conducted to provide a place-based-evidence contribution on the territorial relevance of the new strategic roadmaps.
The proofing of the territorial relevance of the Strategy has followed three steps:
- First, detecting their territorial economic relevance, through the economic impact assessment of the new roadmaps and their correlation to territorial value chains (territorial income production) and local labour areas (territorial income distribution);
- Second, assessing the potential engagement of territorial assets (tangible and intangible), through the correlation of the new roadmaps to those endowments enabling effectiveness and innovation take-up at territorial level;
- Third, discussing the results of the previous two phases, engaging local stakeholders and the socio-economic partnership.
Within the three steps process described above, one of the main reasons at the basis of the uneven effect of regional innovation policies at territorial level is the poorness (and sometimes even the lack) of those endowments that are directly related to the innovation uptake (step 2).
To this aim, digital and mobility infrastructures, high quality public services, skilled workforces, social cohesion, proximity to research and technological transfer centers are considered as “scaffolds” supporting the innovation activities developed by enterprises and to this extent, enhancing the effective delivery of innovation policies outcomes. On the contrary, a lack of digital or mobility infrastructures, low quality public services, a high degree of the dependency ratio (people of nonworking age compared to those of working age), limited skilled workforces and the distance from innovation infrastructures will prove even more critical in scarcely populated areas and hampering any innovation dynamics.
From a Cohesion policy perspective, it is important not only to address the excellence/potential trade-off, but also to pay attention to possible unbalances that may occur and provide for an holistic and systemic approach.
Also on the basis of their territorial relevance, the revision of roadmaps has led to a special focus on the way KETs can be promoted in specific application domains. The first version of RIS3 relied on three technological priorities - mainly related to KETs - and composed of technological roadmaps.
Although maintaining the structure based on technological priorities and roadmaps, the new version of the Strategy now includes five application domains focusing on the implementation of technological roadmaps in specific fields of application, engages a wider governance system and involves also local stakeholders and institutions.
In this perspective the territorial proofing approach represents the place-based-evidence contribution on which the regional innovation governance can monitor the effective implementation of the strategy, and in certain instances introduce refinements in an on-going Entrepreneurial Discovery Process.
To this extent the territorial proofing approach can lead not only to better tailored territorial policies, but also to the consolidation of the local dimension of the regional innovation governance, and to the exploitation of regional excellence towards the reduction of territorial imbalances and in pursuing cohesive growth paths.