1. Ukraine and Smart Specialisation
Ukraine is a large Eastern-European country with a population of approximately 42,5 million inhabitants, bordering on Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Poland, Belarus and Russia. Ukraine has signed an association agreement to the Horizon 2020 in March 2015.
The key elements of a highly centralised, state-owned organisations dominating Ukrainian science, technology and innovation system were created in the pre-independence period. The economic crisis and political problems in the post-Soviet era have had multiple negative impacts on its R&D and innovation.
On 5 March 2014, the European Commission announced a large support package for Ukraine to help stabilise the economic and financial situation of the country. All measures combined could bring overall support of €11 billion over the next seven years from the EU budget and the international financial institutions, including up to €1.4 billion in grants from the Member States.
On 9 April 2014, the Commission decided to create the Support Group for Ukraine. It ensures that Ukrainian authorities have all the support they need to undertake political and economic reform and stabilise the country.
On 17 July 2014, the Commission released an information note to EU businesses operating and/or investing in Crimea/Sevastopol. It explains the risks related to the economic and financial situation in Crimea/Sevastopol, after its illegal annexation by Russia.
On 13 and 14 July 2015, the first meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Committee reviewed Ukraine's reform progress and the challenges ahead. In the margins of this event, the Ukrainian delegation participated in a study visit to the EU institutions organised by the Support Group for Ukraine. The visit was designed to deepen working-level relations in crucial reform areas.
In 2015, Ukraine became fully associated with the Commission's Horizon 2020 programme. Its researchers, businesses and innovators can since participate under the same conditions as EU Member States a multinational programme dedicated to research and innovation, equipped with a total budget of almost € 80 billion for 2014-2020. The H2020 association highlighted that Ukraine considers research and innovation crucial for its economic growth and the creation of jobs in the country battered by the difficult social and economic situation, wide-spread institutional problems and armed conflict at part of its Eastern regions bordering with Russia.
To ensure the support to the capacities building for evidence-based research and innovation policy strategies with a broad involvement of relevant stakeholders such as regional and national governments, companies, academia and universities and non-governmental organisations aiming at economic transformation through increased competitiveness of national and regional economies and their better integration into the international value chains, JRC has engaged in the supporting the development of a research and innovation policy framework for S3 in Ukraine as one of the pilot projects within a two-year JRC-financed pilot project.
This pilot project has started early 2017 and is currently at the early stage where a targeted support in mapping of a country's economic and research fabric is needed while at the same time the country undergoes internally organising coherent approach, and mobilising and coordinating relevant stakeholders through an 'entrepreneurial discovery process'. The support provided aims at enabling local stakeholders to gain the competences needed for continuing strategy design and its future implementation. Within this action the S3 platform helps Ukraine to identify economic competitive advantages and exploit the innovation potential, building on a process of entrepreneurial discovery for smart specialisation.
The JRC Smart Specialisation Framework for EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Region is adopted on a voluntary basis by the countries interested in applying this EU-made innovation policy concept. JRC provides methodological support and guidance via its Enlargement and Integration Action, which so far has helped 13 EU Neighbours. Additional support is provided by DG REGIO and DG NEAR. In the case of Ukraine, it is a part of DG REGIO project focused on Smart Specialisation in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, implemented by JRC since 2019.
2. S3 in Ukraine
From 2014 to 2020 5 Ukrainian regions registered to Smart Specialisation Platform (S3P).
The most important achievement of smart specialisation endeavours is scaling up of the smart specialisation exercise from 3 pilot regions to the whole country – 25 regions. To support this, JRC has organised a number of targeted events including 3 training workshops for Ukrainian national and regional teams in relation to different stages of smart specialisation.
Significant advancements in the process took place after Office of Reforms under the Prime Minister started to coordinate the inter-ministerial Smart Specialisation Team in 2017. Ukraine decided to introduce the regional approach into its policymaking and to embed smart specialisation in regional development strategies. Ukraine included smart specialisation in the secondary national legislation, as an obligatory part of regional development strategies from 2021.
3. Smart Specialisation for Sustainable Development Goals
JRC cooperates with United Nation’s Inter-Agency Task Team on Science, Technology and Innovation Roadmaps for Sustainable Development Goals, where Smart Specialisation is recognised as one of the global methodologies for their design, monitoring and implementation. Different methodological approaches are tested in the UN Global Pilot Programme, to which Ukraine has just applied. The country wishes to develop a national STI for SDGs Roadmap based on Smart Specialisation methodology. JRC, in cooperation with UNIDO, offered to support Ukraine in this endeavour and the first activities are currently being launched. More information: S3 for SDGs
4. Local dimension of Smart Specialisation in Ukraine
The local administration is the only fully decentralised territorial level in Ukraine, with active local governments and amalgamated local communities developing joint strategies. European Commission recommends to have these local communities fully involved into the design, monitoring and implementation of S3. This recommendation has been met with a growing enthusiasm for local level S3 and the first such strategies being developed.
5. Programming 2021-2027
All the Ukrainian regions are obliged to prepare regional development strategies including a compulsory Smart Specialisation component for the period 2021-2027. Most of these strategies were adopted by the end of 2019. Regions have until the end of 2020 to prepare a fully-fledged S3 as part of these strategies.
A recent resolution by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (August 5, 2020 № 695) approved the latest State Strategy for Regional Development for 2021-2027. In line with this resolution, there is a legal requirement to identify priority areas in accordance with the EU smart specialisation methodology and to implement related activities through regional development strategies. Similarly, the resolution calls to ensure participation of all Ukrainian regions in the EU Smart Specialisation Platform (S3 Platform).
The major instrument for the implementation of S3 will be the State Regional Development Fund. The inter-ministerial National Smart Specialisation Team is currently working to develop a wider policy-mix supporting the implementation of the new place-based regional innovation policy in Ukraine.