Cohesion Policy and Smart Specialisation Strategies

Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3 or S3) set priorities at national and regional level to build competitive advantage by developing and matching research and innovation own strengths with business needs, to address emerging opportunities and market developments in a coherent manner, while avoiding duplication and fragmentation of efforts. They are also a backbone of national or regional research and innovation strategic policy frameworks in Europe.

In 2014–2020 Cohesion Policy will guide the investment of over EUR 450 billion (including national co-financing) to help achieve the EU-wide goals of growth and jobs and reduce economic and social disparities. It is the biggest investment instrument at EU level for pursuing the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. Investments will be concentrated on 4 key priorities with EUR 125 billion allocated to these areas:
  • Innovation and research,
  • The digital agenda,
  • Support for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs),
  • The low-carbon economy.

A community continuously growing

Smart specialisation is a place-based approach, building on the assets and resources available to regions and Member States and their specific socio-economic challenges in order to identify unique opportunities for development and growth. Since 2011, the Smart Specialisation Platform (S3 Platform) acts as a facilitator for regions and countries in the uptake and incorporation of the Smart Specialisation concept and methodology in their research and innovation strategies. It provides support to managing authorities and S3 stakeholders that seek to use the S3 concept to develop their own innovation-driven economic transformation agendas at different levels: transregional, national, regional and local.
​​​​​In January 2021, 19 EU Member States and 178 EU regions, as well as 7 non-EU countries and 33 non-EU regions have registered to the S3 Platform, and the community is continuously growing.

RIS3 Guide

Targeted at Structural Funds Managing Authorities, policy-makers and regional development professionals.

Assessment Wheel

A synthetic tool to position yourselves and your RIS3.

S3 Tools and Data Sources

The S3 Platform provides a combination of mapping tools that allow users to identify regions' economic domains of specialisation and aim at facilitating interregional cooperation and the creation of partnerships among various actors throughout Europe.


The RIS3 approach.