Our approach to S3, and the starting point for Dalarna's overall development strategy, is not to rely on regional commodities but to grow the economy through human knowledge of how to process them. Smart specialisation has led to a new way of harnessing knowledge resources with four thematic groupings of regional actors based on the S3 priorities: Energy efficient society, health and welfare, innovative experience production, and advanced industry. Importantly, these thematic groupings have been politically endorsed, providing motivation and momentum.
Each knowledge area gathers intermediaries and a process leader from Dalarna University or an industrial cluster. The regional authority launches pilot studies that examine entrepreneurial potential and capacity to attract international partners. They also define a roadmap, which more clearly delimits the given area. The pilot studies are externally analysed by a regional partnership for innovation consisting of the main stakeholders. This partnership also facilitates and coordinates the different area specific processes to ensure transfers of knowledge and practices.
The initial selection of rather broad priorities sets the basis for cross-fertilisation between differently driven and perceived areas. The results of the pilot studies are leading to further prioritisation and are accompanied by practical pilot projects to test if there are indeed niche strengths. The major change of smart specialisation has thus not been a pre-selection of priorities, but rather in the process established to continue prioritisation through analysis and experimentation.
Region Dalarna’s membership in the Vanguard Initiative has also strengthened the strategy's external dimension. Smart specialisation has thus brought about an ongoing learning process which is both inward- and outward-looking.