Interactive RIS3 Guide Interactive RIS3 Guide



A national/regional research and innovation strategy for smart specialisation can be seen as an economic transformation agenda based on four general principles summarised in four 'Cs' (Box 3).


Box 3 - The four Cs of smart specialisation
  • (Tough) Choices and Critical mass: limited number of priorities on the basis of own strengths and international specialisation – avoid duplication and fragmentation in the European Research Area – concentrate funding sources ensuring more effective budgetary management
  • Competitive Advantage: mobilise talent by matching RTD + I capacities and business needs through an entrepreneurial discovery process
  • Connectivity and Clusters: develop world class clusters and provide arenas for related variety/cross-sector links internally in the region and externally, which drive specialised technological diversification – match what you have with what the rest of the world has
  • Collaborative Leadership: efficient innovation systems as a collective endeavour based on public-private partnership (quadruple helix) – experimental platform to give voice to un-usual suspects



These four 'Cs' are the leading elements of a RIS3 process that incorporate its main novelties when compared to past experiences and inspire the strategy design.

In the following pages a simple six-step approach to RIS3 is sketched out, where the mentioned leading elements are re-composed around a logical design structure for a RIS3. The six steps are defined as follows:

  1.     Analysis of the regional context and potential for innovation,
  2.     Set up of a sound and inclusive governance structure,
  3.     Production of a shared vision about the future of the region,
  4.     Selection of a limited number of priorities for regional development,
  5.     Establishment of suitable policy mixes,
  6.     Integration of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

These six steps can be implemented in sequence, following the order in which they are presented above. However, it is important to point out that they are likely to overlap in time as new actors enter the process, new analysis uncovers unrealised potential, or ongoing projects deliver results that can modify the fundamental context during the process.

Therefore, they should not be thought of as separate and autonomous stages in the process, but as interacting components of a comprehensive design scheme whose implementation pattern depends on the specificity of the regional context.

For those regions that are already advanced along the way of defining and adopting an Innovation Strategy, the purpose of a RIS3 is not to restart a new process from scratch. Rather, it is to build on achievements and bring them further to reinforce those components that are not yet sufficiently developed: the outward-looking perspective, the focus on a few priorities, the evaluation component associated with policy learning capabilities etc.

This section presents each of the steps as defined above, including boxes with practical examples for each step. Further details and useful references about each step can be found in Annex I of this guide.

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