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Regions as motors of new growth through smart specialisation - matching strategies for common goals

Regions as motors of new growth through smart specialisation - matching strategies for common goals

Herman Van Rompuy - Danuta Hübner - Johannes Hahn - Maire Geoghegan-Quinn - Kris Peeters - Ann Mettler


How to regain competitiveness, foster industrial renewal and exploit new economic opportunities has become the key question for European policy makers in these testing times of rapid globalisation and economic transformation.

In this context smart specialisation has attracted widespread international attention as it supports strategic growth agendas by focusing on the microeconomics of competitiveness and mobilising the innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities available in each region.

At this crucial moment smart specialisation strategies are about to be launched across Europe mobilising a large number of stakeholders and leveraging public and private funds for innovation.

This high-level event will present the state of the art of smart specialisation and discuss its implications as a new policy approach for prioritisation and coordination for European competitiveness, economic policy making and governance in the search for new growth opportunities.

It will also aim at stimulating processes of mapping and combining national, regional and European innovation roadmaps through a series of thematic workshops focusing on specific areas of joint opportunity linked to common societal challenges.

This conference is targeted at policy-makers at regional, national and European level in the fields of research, innovation, industrial policy and regional development, including ESIF (European Structural and Investment Funds) Managing Authorities and their stakeholders.

The event is co-organised by the European Commission's Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy and the Region of Flanders, which is implementing smart specialisation at the core of its innovation and industrial policy for regional development.



Key-messages of this event are

  • Smart specialisation is a powerful new policy approach that helps to prioritise and concentrate resources for innovation and economic transformation in times of structural change, budgetary constraints and rapid globalisation.
  • It recognises the pivotal role of regions in orchestrating entrepreneurial discovery processes, positioning regional clusters in global value chains and aligning public and private investment decisions to leverage growth.
  • Smart specialisation offers an important opportunity to better focus EU funds on common societal challenges and local opportunities for all regions and to leverage synergies with resources at Member State and regional level and with the private sector.
  • It also offers an opportunity to foster complementarities between regional and national innovation roadmaps and planned investments and the roadmaps developed by large European-level public-private partnerships for challenge-driven growth (e.g. Joint Technology Initiatives, European Innovation Partnerships, Knowledge and Innovation Communities etc.).
  • The coordination potential of smart specialisation for constructing better performing cross-border and European-wide clusters and networks that can successfully compete at global level has to be harnessed systematically and strategically.
  • Smart specialisation is the process of priority-setting in national and regional innovation strategies in order to achieve economic transformation and industrial renewal by building on and developing competitive advantage.
  • Having dedicated smart specialisation strategies in place has been proposed by the European Commission as ex-ante conditionality for the allocation of European Structural and Investment Funds as of 2014.  
  • The goal of such strategies is to help reduce growth disparities in the EU by re-focusing EU structural funds on investments that trigger innovation and industrial renewal. Additional emphasis of these strategies is on their power to drive better international coordination of regional investment agendas and cluster activities to enhance critical mass and their contribution to common European challenges and innovation road maps.
  • For more information:
EU Regional Policy: Stay informed