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Smart Specialisation at work: the policy makers’ view on strategy design and implementation

This paper illustrates the results of a survey on the Smart Specialisation experience across European regions and countries. Respondents recommend to maintain the current policy framework for the future, while introducing new elements to improve strategies’ efficacy and make Smart Specialisation more responsive to the specific needs of different territories.
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Abstract

This paper illustrates the results of a survey on the Smart Specialisation experience across European regions and countries. By collecting and analysing the views of national and regional authorities, the survey intended to take stock of Smart Specialisation Strategies implementation, identify critical issues and challenges while drawing some lessons and recommendations in light of the debate on the post-2020 Cohesion policy. Overall, despite being considered particularly challenging in terms of policy intelligence, skills and capabilities for public authorities and other stakeholders, Smart Specialisation experience is positively valued by the vast majority of respondents. Substantial improvements are detected with respect to: stakeholder engagement, priority setting, concentration of funding, level of trust and emergence of innovation potential; whereas, more efforts are needed in relation to the quality and effectiveness of monitoring activities and strategies’ outward-looking perspective. Further progress is still required as regards the policy regulatory framework, governance and institutional capabilities along with the involvement of relevant actors (notably SMEs and civil-society groups) who have remained at the margin of the decision making process thus far. With respect to the ultimate objective of the policy, national and regional actors are not observing significant progresses towards economic transformation yet. Respondents recommend to maintain the current policy framework for the future, while introducing new elements to improve strategies’ efficacy and make Smart Specialisation more responsive to the specific needs of different territories.