The Enlargement and Neighbourhood region moves ahead with the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process

News article |

On the 27th and 28th of January of 2022, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) held a two day online training course about the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) for Albania, Georgia, Kosovo* and North Macedonia. The initiative took place within the framework of the project “Support to Smart Specialisation in Enlargement and Neighbourhood Region (E&I)” and it aimed at strengthening the institutional capacity building in relation to stakeholders’ engagement. The EDP is one of the pillars of the Smart Specialisation approach as it validates its bottom-up phase and stimulates local market actors to undertake a more active role in the process rather than participating as reticent recipients of innovation policies. Albania, Georgia, Kosovo and North Macedonia are following the steps of the S3 Framework defined by the JRC as a guideline for the design of their national Smart Specialisation Strategy. As they complete the mapping phase of the process (Kosovo is still conducting the qualitative analysis), participants can now prepare to promote the stakeholders’ dialogue and get the main actors of the regional ecosystem (i.e. companies, universities and research institutes, local government and civil society) involved in the definition of innovation related policies.

The complexity of the EDP lies in the combination of management and technical capacities that aim to facilitate an effective dialogue among stakeholders. National coordinators, experts, and facilitators are expected to work together with the objective of promoting the debate between main territorial actors during each of the pre-selected priority areas to identify the needs and innovative potential that can be empowered through the final phase of the Smart Specialisation Strategy. 

The course welcomed policy makers and administrators who are part of the S3 national teams of the abovementioned economies and that are preparing to implement the EDP plan. Five international professionals’ experts in innovation policy related matters covered the most relevant theoretical and practical features of the EDP, ranging from the challenges of the early stakeholders’ engagement to the follow up actions of the process. The course also combined references to practices and country experiences, from both the E&I region and the European Union, and from countries that have been organizing EDP working groups for years, as well as countries that have recently launched the stakeholders’ dialogue despite the difficulties experienced due to the recent pandemic. Identifying the most efficient way to get the stakeholders involved (among others: which modality to contact them, which basic information to share at the beginning, which referees to contact first in each of the four categories, what questions to propose during the working groups) has been one of the main topics conversed during the event. This interaction focused particularly on businesses that represent the core of the innovation potential in a local eco-system and that must be present with at least 50% of the audience during the EDP working groups. Understanding how to deal with each of the actors from the quadruple helix (academia, business, administration, and civil society), facilitates tackling the challenges in each priority area during the EDP working groups, which means outlining defined inputs that can better fit the policy mix for Smart Specialisation. 

This topic received special attention from the audience because it strongly affects how the final strategy is positioned within the landscape of the existing policies. Therefore, the way the inputs coming from the EDP working groups are taken into consideration when drafting and designing the policy mix for the Smart Specialisation Strategy is a crucial move. Finally, an important subject also discussed during the training was the use of tools that facilitate remote connection, which was of great interest for public administrators who have been struggling with remote connectivity issues during the last two years due to the COVID pandemic. Useful resources and tools such as “Miro” were proposed as alternatives to mitigate the challenges faced by stakeholders in the current remote work environment when attempting EDP related tasks.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence