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Smart Specialisation and industrial modernisation

In this editorial, Slawomir Tokarski, Director of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, within the Directorate General for Internal Market, industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) of the European Commission, shares his view of Smart Specialisation and industrial modernisation issues.

date:  06/03/2018

Smart specialisation investments on Research and Innovation across the EU have a major role to play in strengthening the research capacity and technological uptake of European industry in the coming years.

Dealing with digitalisation, high performance computing, big data, lightweight materials and clean technologies is a big challenge for industry today; at the same time, new opportunities open up for developing smarter, cleaner and more competitive products, processes and services - and for staying globally competitive.

Industrial modernisation requires a different mind-set at all levels and significant investments, both in financial and organisational terms. It involves risky investment in research projects, to pursue new technologies that change rapidly, or for developing agile business models for responding quickly to new market needs.

Smart specialisation can have an important impact on industrial modernisation. It sets strategic and clear priorities at regional level that are relevant for local industry, allowing it, among other things, to explore interregional value chains. It provides a prioritising framework for regional innovation ecosystems and for significant business R&D investments.

The smart combination of such efforts made at regional level with other funding opportunities provided at EU level, notably by the next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and the Investment Plan for Europe, will help generate a much higher impact.

In particular, the investment platforms proposed by the Investment Plan for Europe can be instrumental for supporting, with the contribution of the financial sector, smaller SMEs' projects across all industrial sectors, by combining different funding sources.

This new possibility needs extra efforts and can be done jointly; by learning from each other and working together, regional authorities, industry and the financial sector can develop together instruments that are suitable to their needs and policies.

The Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation established under the S3 Platform encourages such interregional efforts for developing together ideas, new actions and projects for industrial modernisation and investments.


Slawomir Tokarski