Located in west central Poland and with about 3.5 million inhabitants, Wielkopolska region is among the most economically developed regions of Poland, and boasts of a high level of entrepreneurship. In Wielkopolska, we have designed a comprehensive RIS3 implementation system that involves a wide range of actors and procedures. It is mostly based on policy instruments related to the Regional Operational Programme (ROP), but there are also some alternative tools that help implement the strategy.
The Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region (the regional authority) uses a selection system that gives priority to projects related to smart specialisation, predominantly in the process of evaluating the project proposals related to the ROP. The selection process is not limited to the required connexion to Thematic Objective 1 projects. It also embraces Thematic Objective 3 projects as well as some activities financed by the European Social Fund. Moreover, other activities undertaken by the Regional Board and financed from the regional budget involve preferences for smart specialisation projects, as well as actions dedicated to RIS3. They include the participation in international fairs, certification of clusters or contests for business environment institutions.
The Department of the Economy, which is dedicated to the deployment of RIS3, participates in Interreg projects, such as ESSPO or RELOS3. Being a partner or a stakeholder in such a project makes it possible to develop new tools for the implementation of RIS3, on the basis of good practices, shared among participants. The Department is also in charge of an interdepartmental team in the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region, which includes all the departments that have an impact on the creation and implementation of RIS3. This kind of overarching policy system exists only in a few other Polish regions. It helps implementing the strategy in a more coherent way.
The Entrepreneurial Discovery Process is another important source of inspiration for planning the RIS3 deployment. During the recent years, it has been a dynamic process that has shaped the understanding of the innovation policy in Wielkopolska. It is based on the cooperation between the Marshal Office of the Wielkopolska Region and representatives of smart specialisation businesses as well as business environmental institutions. Together, they have created the Forum of Smart Specialisation and several working groups, where the key issues regarding innovation policy and Regional Operational Programme are discussed regularly. The stakeholders that participate in these meetings influence the shaping of policy instruments, commenting on the specific procedures used within the Regional Operational Programme. They also express their agreement or objection with respect to changing the regional set of smart specialisations. Lately, they proposed introducing a new smart specialisation, related to the so-called silver economy.
The last years’ experience in the implementation of RIS3 has taught us that supporting the innovative potential in the region is a process that requires putting extensive efforts into specific aims. It also requires cooperation between different actors of the regional economic system, including officials, entrepreneurs, scientists as well as civil society in general.