Higher Education for S3 in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace

The region has a comprehensive higher education system, with the Democritus University of Thrace as the one regional university and six campuses spread across the Region, which does not seem to be supported by a strong academic or research rationale. 

The Smart Specialisation Strategy 2014-2020 in Greece has adopted a hybrid model that comprises a national and 13 regional S3s, developed by the General Secretariat for Public Investments of the Ministry of Development which coordinates the Managing Authorities of all ESIF-funded OPs. It has assumed the role of S3 Management Team for the national S3, however there are no such entities at the regional level.

The Smart Specialisation Strategy is considered by stakeholders the best available tool to develop a long-term, evidence and place-based regional innovation strategy. The regional and national governance structures and their interaction, as well as the policy mix deployed for the programming period 2014-2020, has limited the capacity of higher education to contribute to regional growth. The partnership between regional administration and HEIs manager seems to have room for improvement, through spaces for dialogue and the co-design of funding instruments that respond to a shared vision of regional challenges. The institutionalisation of HEI third mission could benefit from a performance based type system, as well as the promotion of HEI leadership in a region characterise by a strong disconnect.

Main conclusions and recommendations

  • The HEI third mission should be institutionalised, probably through a performance based type system. 
  • The partnership between regional administration and HEIs manager seems to have important room for improvement, through spaces for dialogue to agree in main regional challenges. 
  • The regional S3 would benefit from a more clear mandate to the Regional Research and Innovation Councils, and the reinforcement of skills for EU funds management within the regional administration. 
  • The region could greatly benefit from a stronger leadership of HEIs, which lack a strong central management to define a vision and strategy for the development of the HEIs and their role in regional development.
  • The DUTH could benefit from its integration in European partnerships and networks, such as the HEInnovate, Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances or EIT-KICs, to better connect HE to the regional ecosystems.  
  • Being a peripheral region it is considered an important factor that should lead to increase the attractiveness of the region, for example through strategic partnerships with other regions and ensuring the best conditions to attract the business community area created.

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