Cohesion, Results-Orientation and Smart Specialisation
New Horizons in Regional Science series
Chapter 6: Smart specialisation and European regions
In the case of the EU Cohesion Policy programming period 2014–2020, the major regional innovation agenda is known as smart specialisation. As already discussed in the previous chapter, many of the insights into regional innovation policy actually emerged initially from outside of the arenas of regional economics, urban economics or economic geography, and this is also the case with the European regional innovation agenda. Smart specialisation as a concept originally emerged from the fields examining the economics of knowledge and technological change (Foray 2004; Swann 2009). However, this original non-spatial and largely theoretical concept has been slowly translated into an explicitly geographical and primarily pragmatic schema which is proving to be a powerful and workable policy tool. Interestingly, this process of translating a non-spatial and theoretical concept to an explicitly regional and pragmatic tool has involved the adoption of new knowledge and its adaptation to a specific context, exactly along the lines advocated by the concept itself. As such, in terms of innovation issues, the policy development process inherent in the reforms to EU Cohesion Policy itself largely mirrors the logic of the smart specialisation concept. The smart specialisation concept is now an important element in both the new ‘Innovation Union’ flagship programme of the European Commission and also the EU Cohesion Policy reforms.
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