In our region, smart specialisation has been embraced at more than one territorial level. Building on key features of S3 (including a vision, competitive advantages, multi-actor partnerships and differentiating assets), the TAGUS Local Action Group for rural development together with the Association of Municipalities TAJO-SALOR have developed a new governance model based on participation, co-responsibility and co-leadership. This initiative, which has been called 'Smart LEADER', combines two different perspectives: Diversification, according to the EU wide LEADER programme and Specialisation taking inspiration from S3.
The new approach has identified a local comparative advantage: 'La torta del Casar', a distinctive cheese which is becoming the economic catalyst for the Tajo-Salor-Almonte territory. This strategy also aims to collectively address a main weakness of the territorial production system: Weak capacity to incorporate knowledge-based innovation. The results so far show promising advances in the areas of reinforced innovation at local level and support for a more rounded perspective on rural development.
A first project, currently ongoing, is the Farmers School of XXI that emerged from a “grassroots” initiative during interactions within the TAGUS Innovation Ecosystem promoted by the Smart LEADER process and involving all actors of the Quadruple Helix Model, citizens included. The knowledge institutions participating in the Shepherding School project are the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Extremadura (Caceres) and CYCITEX, the Centre for Scientific and Technological Research of Extremadura (Merida). The Shepherding School aims to become a valuable resource for training highly professional shepherds embracing ICT and latest technological advances in the field.