New, innovative value chains for Alpine region

EU-supported Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3s) stimulate industrial transformation that can lead to the creation of new businesses and value chains. An EU-funded project is developing a set of tools to help industrial clusters and the Alpine space, working within S3s, to identify and develop transformative activities.

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The S3-4AlpClusters project developed tools to help industrial clusters and the Alpine space identify and develop transformative activities ©CC0 Creative Commons The S3-4AlpClusters project developed tools to help industrial clusters and the Alpine space identify and develop transformative activities ©CC0 Creative Commons

" What are the priorities in your region?’is a question that is likely to be misunderstood. This is why we introduced the concept of ‘transformative activities’. This proved to be useful to explain what our workshops are about and what the main goal of the community of experts in the room is: identifying and selecting a small number of transformative activities that will be critical to meet the structural challenges of the region. "

Dominqiue Foray, S3-4AlpClusters advisory board president

S3s are aimed at increasing European competitiveness through investment in technological change and innovation. Such investment can generate new opportunities, revenue streams and jobs. However, the identification of new innovation capacities is a complex exercise and remains a significant challenge for Europe's S3 initiatives.

The S3-4AlpClusters project is supporting smart industrial transition in the Alpine region. It is doing so by offering a set of tools aimed at regional bodies and industry clusters – groups of unique but interrelated industries. These may deliver the same product or service, or they may have commodity-flow relationships with each other, or other kinds of relationships.

Building collaborative efforts

Industry clusters are critical ingredients in the success of modern economies, and can help to indicate strengths and opportunities in workforce skills, innovation, and productivity.

Up to now, there has been a lack of collaboration between regional bodies and clusters in the process of developing and implementing S3s. S3-4AlpClusters is introducing a systematic process, the S3-Innovation Model, for the identification and development of transformative activities.

The model offers a set of tools for cluster initiatives and regions to explore capacities and opportunities for transformation and to develop actions to create critical mass in innovative fields. These include entrepreneurial discovery workshops and action development workshops, and a proposal for innovative funding and monitoring schemes.

New and innovative value chains

The S3-4AlpClusters project, with its S3-innovation model, is introducing a process and tools for the identification and development of transformative activities, both within and across regions. The aim is to create jobs in new fields and to establish innovative value chains across the Alpine space. Already, the model has helped users identify more than 100 promising transformative activities in 11 participating regions. These include activities in the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland, in the field of circular bioeconomy, encompassing existing capacities from the food and packaging industries. 

A cross-regional example involves potential complementarities among related activities from intelligent communication technologies, agrofood, materials and manufacturing in Upper Austria; Veneto, Italy; Slovenia; and Bavaria, Germany.

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “S3-4AlpClusters - Smart Specialisation Strategies to build Innovation model for Alp Clusters” is EUR 2 521 964, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 929 500 through the “Regional Research and Innovation” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Research and innovation”.

Draft date

10/04/2019