Universities have been mainly included in the S3 debate as creators or vectors of knowledge, their higher education mission has been somewhat overlooked. For this reason, in March 2016, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission has started a project on the role of Higher Education in Smart Specialisation (HESS).
This document reports the action-research activities conducted under the HESS project in the region of Puglia (IT). The authors explored two instruments at the opposite end of the higher education spectrum:
● Istituti Tecnici Superiori (ITSs), i.e. Higher Technical Institutes, a form of technology-based vocational education and training.
● Innovative Industrial Doctorates (IIDs) .
These new instruments have not been explicitly taken into account during the development and early implementation of the strategy; however, it has become increasingly important to reflect on the process of human capital creation for S3. The two instruments appear suited to this reflection as they implement curricula designed in collaboration with the local private sector and with an explicit focus on technological development and employability. The report explores the challenges and opportunities ITSs and IIDs pose, as a first step to understand their potential contribution to Smart Specialisation.