Recently, the digital conference “Smart collaboration in a transnational context  – International conference on Transnational Smart Specialisation for EU macro-regions” gathered more than 50 participants to focus on the role of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) and how they can play a role in innovation development in a transnational context. How can we in EU strengthen our strengths, complement each other’s weaknesses, and setting joint priorities with S3 as a platform? 

Experts shared knowledge  

Experts in smart specialisation shared knowledge and experience from the field, how different countries and projects work with smart specialisation in and between their regions, and a concept for business advisors supporting SMEs, the Transnational Innovation Brokerage System (TIBS was presented. The event was aimed at those who are interested in the field of smart specialization, cross-border collaboration and innovation development. 

Watch the recoding from the conference here 

Monika Zsigri, Deputy Head of Unit Smart and Sustainable Growth, DG REGIO, European Commission, (BE) talked about “The importance of smart specialization on EU-level and the development ahead of us” and started out the conference by telling the audience that “Innovation and research are more important than ever” and gave insights on how the work with different platforms for S3 have looked like the past years and how smart specialization is a central role to EU cohesion policy.  

Monika followed by saying that investments in the innovation ecosystem and partnership is central for good collaboration “Smart specialization is the guiding principle, and it brings together all the relevant actors”. She also talked about the future and The Interregional Innovation Investments (I3), a funding instrument under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) regulation (article 13), which focuses on Promoting innovation in Cohesion policy: Smart Specialisation and interregional collaboration.  

The participants also had the chance to listened to Madelen Nilsson, Senior Advisor Innovation/Smart Specialisation at The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (SE) when she talked about “The establishment of the smart specialization in Sweden – lessons learned and the way forward” She talked about the development of S3 in Sweden and presented an evaluation made by the Oxford research for the Swedish S3 work during the 2016-2020. “One thing is clear, the network, the knowledge and the experience sharing between the peer is highly appreciated” 

When the moderator, Ervin Alic from RISE asked; what possibilities do you see for using this knowledge and expertise from the Swedish S3 work to connect stakeholders on a European level? “It has already been started ofcourse and I think we are just in the beginning of exploring the possibilities, of making good connections and work more effective in the EU value change”  

How to succeed in transnational collaborations – experiences from different macro regional S3-projects” was the theme of Elena Banci, Project Manager at Area Science Park (IT) presentation. She told the audience about good practice examples from previous and ongoing project in macro-regions such as Adriatic and Ionian, Alpine and Mediterranean as an inspiration on possible opportunities for collaborations among countries and regions across the borders. Why should we boost macro-regional collaboration in S3? Elenas answer to that was that cooperation in S3 macro-regional levels can support policy makers to: create strategic linkages to tackle common challenges, exploit value chain activities though cross-cluster and cross-region cooperation and stimulate transnational cooperation in areas of smart specialisation.  

The conference also contained a panel discussion on Cross-border cooperation with the following persons; Torbjörn Jonsson, Project Manager and smart specialisation expert at Research Institutes of Sweden and Propell (SE), Erika Augustinsson, Innovation Strategist, Regional growth at Region Blekinge (SE), Melanie Mesloh, project expert in GoSmart&Excel BSR and researcher at Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) (DE) and Esa Kokkonen, Director of The Baltic Institute of Finland, EUSBSR PA Innovation coordinator (FI). The panel come together in a discussion about “Strengthen cross-border cooperation – on a system level and in everyday life”. The panel briefly talked about how to engage small and medium enterprises in everyday life to get them to collaborate internationally with other actors in different regions with the focus in smart specialization. 

Concluded the conference did Robert Girejko, Innovation and internationalisation expert at The Bialystok University of Technology (PL) with presenting some takeaways from the project and the conference organizer GoSmart&Excel BSR for example the work with Transnational Smart Specialisation.  

“Currently we are in the process of developing the Trans S3 strategy for the whole EUSBSR and a technical report towards, that was published last month on the smart specialisation strategy for the Baltic Sea region that is still under making. And now we’re we are in the process of regional and national consultations and feedback, trying to sort of discover in an entrepreneur real discovery process what should be the priorities and domains” 

What is Trans S3? – Read more here 

Robert spooked briefly about the concept TIBS, Transnational Innovation Brokerage System that is developed within the project. It is about cooperation opportunities for small and medium companies guided by trained innovation brokers from the Baltic Sea Region.  

“We believe as partner project that the S3 concept provides fresh and a promising approach to policy, specifically policymaking for the growth and innovation” “SMEs can develop their smart strategies for themselves and contributes to the larger scale effects and what we’ve developed in the in the last few years is what we call transnational innovation brokerage system” 

Interested in TIBS? Watch this video 

“So if you work as some type of business advisor or innovation advisor or have contact with SMEs  in your everyday work supporting them, this could be an interesting option to join TIBS and go through the training. Learning more and used the method for supporting SMEs with their development” Ervin Alic fills in and finalizes the conference.  

The conference is organised as part of the GoSmart&Excel BSR project. 

About GoSmart&Excel BSR 

Project “Strengthening smart specialisation by fostering transnational cooperation and practical application of novel solutions for regions and SMEs” (GoSmart&Excel BSR) is implemented with the support from the European Regional Development Fund within Interreg BSR Programme 2014-2020. From April 2021 to December 2021 project unites 10 partners from 8 countries, and it aims to foster effective cooperation in transnational approach between the industry, R&D sector and public authorities. 

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