We are doing science for policy
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
The JRC has joined forces with Ukrainian authorities to work together on innovation strategies based on the smart specialisation approach, to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Smart specialisation is a methodology used by over 180 regions in Europe. It links industrial, educational and innovation sectors with the aim to help regions identify and select a number of priority areas for R&D investments, focusing on their strengths and comparative advantages.
It is based on stakeholder involvement, open participation mechanisms, a mix of policies and constant monitoring and update. The methodology underpins investments aimed at strengthening research, technological development and innovation, supported by the EU's regional development policy.
"The Smart Specialisation platform (S3Platform) managed by the JRC has functioned since 2012 as a 'hub' for the implementation of this methodology across European territories.
In the context of the EU neighbourhood policy, we are now sharing this tested methodology with the Ukrainian authorities to support the development of unique competitive advantages in the country", explains Manuel Palazuelos, the JRC's S3 Platform project leader.
The project kicked off in Ukraine as a pilot focusing on a limited number of regions. So far, it has involved awareness raising events, training activities and a mapping of the Ukrainian economic, scientific and innovation potential.
The results of this mapping will be presented during a meeting in Kiev on 26 October 2017 with the national smart specialisation team and regional representatives.
The results will form the basis for the next phase of the process: the identification of priority areas for investment and the inclusive 'entrepreneurial discovery process', where participants from different domains (policy, business, academia, etc) identify potential activities and opportunities together.
The alignment of research and innovation agendas between the EU and Ukraine could support the creation of transnational linkages and improve access to European and global value chains. It also helps to prepare the field for deeper collaboration on European research programmes such as Horizon 2020.
The smart specialisation concept, particularly at the regional level, is important for the further enhancement of Ukraine's regional development policy, particularly for those regions which identify innovation as a priority in their regional development strategies.
Furthermore, the EU macro-regional strategy for the Danube Region provides a transnational framework for smart specialisation for the four participating Ukrainian regions.
The current collaboration between the JRC and Ukrainian authorities is also addressing the lack of comparable statistical information on innovation. The National Smart Specialisation Team is working on non-standard innovation data such as scientific specialisations and innovation activities of key sectors for regional economies, as this is relevant information for smart specialisation processes.
This framework for research and innovation activities facilitates the advancement of economic reforms, improves governance, and reinforces dialogue and coordination between the private and public sectors.
The JRC is also working on smart specialisation strategies with other Enlargement and Neighbourhood countries. The definition of the first strategies is foreseen for the end of 2018 and 2019.
The S3 methodology, originally envisioned by academic experts and officials from the European Commission, is now widely used by international organisations such as the World bank, OECD and United Nations.