SMART REGIONS 2.0 Conference

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The second edition of the high-level Smart Regions event, due to take place this 1-2 June in Helsinki, will provide the opportunity to national and regional authorities to share experience of how smart specialisation has been implemented in their countries and regions. In 2014 smart specialisation strategies were introduced in the European Union's Cohesion Policy as the basis for research and innovation investment. As a result, over 120 strategies have been established to shape investments from 2014-20.  It is now time to assess what has been achieved, exchange experience and reflect on how the impact of projects can be maximised on the ground and what lessons should be drawn for the future.

The event will provide the opportunity to share experience between projects supported by the European Structural Investment Funds and other EU programmes and policies in the areas of research, industrial policy, education and skills. It will enable project promoters to learn from experience in other regions and find cooperation partners across EU in areas such as energy, agri-food, industrial modernisation, cybersecurity, health, and the maritime industry.

As well as highlighting best practice and lessons learnt, there will be an opportunity to debate the future of innovation in the context of European regional development with senior representatives from the European institutions and national and regional governments. The conclusions of the discussion will be an important contribution to the discussion on the future of Cohesion Policy post-2020.

Moderator: Karen Coleman


09:00 – 10:00


  • Jyrki Katainen – European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness
  • Corina Crețu – European Commissioner for Regional and Urban Policy
  • Mika Lintilä – Minister of Economic Affairs of Finland
  • Markku Markkula – President of the Committee of the Regions

10:30 – 11:30

Introduction: Rudolf Niessler – Director, European Commission, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy

Keynote address

  • Kevin Morgan – Professor of Governance and Development, Cardiff University
  • Slavo Radosevic – Professor of Industry and Innovation Studies, University College London
  • Dominique Foray – Professor, Chair of Economics and Management of Innovation, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

11:30 – 12:30

Reforming national and regional innovation systems

This session will discuss the contribution of smart specialisation to regional and national research and innovation systems. Three cross-cutting challenges require attention: the quality of public research, science-business links, and the business environment for research and innovation.

Panel discussion and debate:


  • Heli Antila – Chief Technology Officer, Fortum
  • Patrizio Bianchi – Regional Minister of Emilia-Romagna - Coordination of EU Funds, Education and Research
  • Lambert van Nistelrooij – Member of the European Parliament
  • Lena Tsipouri – Professor at the Department of Economic Sciences, University of Athens
  • Mikel Irujo-Amezaga – Rapporteur on Smart Specialisation Strategies to the Committee of the Regions

14:00 – 15:30

Parallel Session 1: Tailoring support for the needs of the regions

This session will share experiences on how to develop research and innovation strategies on smart specialisation in different territorial contexts. It will discuss what policy instruments and governance models are best fit to the purpose of supporting economic development of regions.

Parallel Session 1A: Industrial regions

Moderator: Sławomir Tokarski Director for Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing, European Commission, Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs


  • Lombardia:
    Vincenzina Cristofaro Project Manager, DG Università, Ricerca e Open Innovation
  • Wallonie:
    Dominique Demonté Director, Biopark Charleroi
  • Baden-Württemberg:
    Lukas Nögel Consultant, International Technology Cooperation and Clusters
  • Västra Götaland:
    Hanna Blomdahl Regional Development Officer, Västra Götaland
  • Slovenia:
    Peter Wostner Senior Advisor, Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy

Hard talk host: Emily Wise

Business: Gernot Klotz, Chair of EC Advisory Group Industrial Technologies NMBP

Academia: Marcello Colledani, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology and Production Systems Lab, Politecnico di Milano

Parallel Session 1B: Urban/metropolitan regions

Moderator: Normunds Popens Deputy Director-General, European Commission, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy


  • Finnish Six City Strategy:
    Jose Valanta Director of Business Development, City of Vantaa
  • Rotterdam / Randstad:
    Jacqueline Spuijbroek EU representative, Province Zuid-Holland
  • Śląskie:
    Monika Ptak-Kruszelnicka Coordinator Regional Innovation Unit, Marshal Office of Śląskie Voivodeship
  • Niederösterreich:
    Simone Hagenauer Project Manager, Clusters Ecoplus

Hard talk host: Alasdair Reid

Business: Tiina Kähö, Executive Director, Helsinki Metropolitan Smart & Clean Foundation

Academia: Bjørn Asheim, Professor, Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy, Lund University

Parallel Session 1C: Rural regions

Moderator: Kaila Minna-Mari Director-General, Finnish Ministry of Agriculture


  • Podkarpackie:
    Edgar Szewczyk Podkarpackie Voivodship regional office, Brussels
  • Région Centre Val-de-Loire:
    Frédéric Pinna Director, Dev'up
  • Extremadura:
    Lucila Castro Rovillard Project Manager, Fundecyt-Pctex
    Marjo Tolvanen Manager of Leader, Sepra, Finland

Hard talk host: Els Van de Velde

Business: Markus Dettenhofer, Executive Director CEITEC

Academia: Seija Virkkala, Professor of Regional Studies, University of Vaasa

Parallel Session 1D: Peripheral and sparsely populated regions

Moderator: Alessandro Rainoldi Head of Territorial Development Unit, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Seville


  • Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions:
    Nicolas Brookes Director, CPMR
  • Northern Sparesly Populated Areas:
    Mikael Janson Director, North Sweden European Office
  • North East Romania:
    Gabriela Macoveiu RIS3 Coordination RDA
  • Islas Canarias:
    Juan Ruiz Alzola Professor, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Hard talk host: Claire Nauwelaers

Business: Ilkka Kauppinen, CEO, Arctic Warriors

Academia: Emanuela Todeva, Professor of International Business Strategy and Innovation, St. Mary’s University, UK

16:00 – 17:30

Parallel Session 2: Investing in innovation across EU regions

This session will share experiences on how to build partnerships across Europe which lead to investments in innovation. It will discuss the bottlenecks and how to overcome them.

Parallel Session 2A: Investing in industrial modernisation

Lead: Mark Nicklas Head of Unit, Innovation Policy and Investment for Growth, European Commission, Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SME


  • Innovative Textiles:
    Felipe Carrasco Director, International Projects, ATEVAL
  • Vanguard Initiative Investment Projects:
    Wim de Kinderené International Project Manager, Brainport Eindhoven

Elevator pitches

  • Industry 4.0
  • Medical technologies
  • Efficient and sustainable manufacturing
  • 3D-printing
  • Nano-enabled products
  • Bioeconomy
  • Sport
  • Tourism safety

Structured group discussion

Parallel Session 2B: Investing in energy

Lead: Tudor Constantinescu Principal Adviser, European Commission, Directorate General for Energy


  • Bioenergy:
    Ilari Havukainen Regional Council of Lapland, Finland
  • Sustainable Buildings:
    Joaquín Villar Rodríguez Head of Unit, Andalusian Energy Agency, Spain

Elevator pitches

  • Solar energy
  • Smart grids
  • Heating and cooling

Structured group discussion

Parallel Session 2C: Investing in agri-food

Lead: Martin Scheele Head of Unit, Conception and Consistency of Rural Development, European Commission, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development


  • High Technology Farming:
    Fabio Boscaleri Policy Officer, Regione Toscana – DG Giunta Regionale
  • Traceability and Big Data:
    Esperanza Perea Vice Minister's Technical Counselor, Andalusia Regional Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development
    Cecilia Gañán European expert, Cohesion Policy, Regional and Urban development

Elevator pitches

  • Smart electronic systems
  • Food, gastronomy and new technologies

Structured group discussion

Parallel Session 2D: Investing in new sources of growth / societal challenges

Lead: Magda De Carli Head of Unit, Spreading of excellence and widening participation, European Commission, Directorate General for Research & Innovation


1. Water

  • Blue Growth:
    Claus Schultze European Commission, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
  • Water Quality:
    Pieter de Jong EU Liaison Officer, WETSUS
  • Rolls-Royce Marine:
    Sauli Eloranta Senior Vice President, Technology Management & Innovation

2. Health

  • Health EIT outreach activities:
    Judit Hegedus Project Manager, European Institute of Innovation & Technology
  • Precision medicine:
    Henk Joos Managing Director, Biotech cluster of Flanders

3. Security

  • Cybersecurity:
    Eda Aygen Head of Communications, European Cyber Security Organisation
  • Using space:
    Roya Ayazi Secretary-General, Network of European Regions Using Space Technologies
  • Defence:
    Goran Basarac Head of Service, Croatian Ministry of Economy

Structured group discussion

FRIDAY, 02 JUNE 2017

09:00 – 10:00

Opening Speech

  • Markku Markkula – President of the Committee of the Regions

Report from day one - Karen Coleman and rapporteurs:

  • Reforming national and regional innovation systems Peter Berkowitz
  • Tailoring support to develop regional capacity building for regions Henning Kroll
  • Investing in innovation across borders Ulla Engelmann

10:00 – 11:00

Debate on challenges for research & innovation in the European regions

  • European Regions Research And Innovation Network Richard Tuffs
  • Interreg Europe Erwin Siweris
  • Interreg Baltic Ilze Ciganska
  • Baltic Sea Region Strategy - Policy Area-Innovation Niclas Forsling
  • Interreg Central Europe Monika Schönerklee-Grasser
  • Interreg project – S34Growth Esa Kokkonen

11:00 – 12:00

Collaboration in smart specialisation areas across EU borders:

  • Timo Pesonen – Director-General, European Commission, Directorate-General for Communication
  • Normunds Popens – Deputy Director-General, European Commission, Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy
  • Wolfgang Burtscher – Deputy Director-General, European Commission, Directorate General for Directorate-General for Research & Innovation
  • Antti Peltomäki – Deputy Director-General, European Commission, Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs