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Special edition 2021

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Regional innovation capacity

Interregional smart specialisation in the Baltic Sea Region

By Mirko Kruse

Smart specialisation helps regions to use their economic strengths to boost growth and prosperity. Yet, many regions lack methods or institutional frameworks to implement the smart specialisation strategies successfully. Addressing this gap, HWWI has been a partner in the Interreg Baltic Sea Region program "GoSmart BSR" which has passed over to the extension project "GoSmart & Excel BSR" with a focus on strengthening innovation capacity of entrepreneurs and innovation broker consultations. Moreover, HWWI is involved in the platform project “BSR S3 Ecosystem”, funded by Interreg Baltic Sea Region, which brings together several projects on smart specialisation to allow for a combined effort.

The partners come from the Interreg BSR projects LARS, BSR Stars S3, Smart-up BSR and GoSmart BSR as well as from the Interreg Europe projects S34 Growth, BIOREGIO, ClusterFY and TRACS3. On country level, partners from Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Russia, and Sweden are involved.

BSR S3 Ecosystem aligns smart specialisation initiatives to better steer investments across the Baltic Sea Region. By sharing best practices, the project activates research and academic communities, industry, and public entities to strengthen the regional innovation ecosystem. The platform project aims to raise awareness of authorities and innovation actors at regional level as well as regional policy experts at national and EU levels of the opportunities and challenges related to smart specialisation. The platform contributes to realising a tailored policy framework which supports the development of a macro-regional approach to smart specialisation.

In the course of the project, three studies have recently been completed: 1. A first-stage value chain mapping analysis of the circular bioeconomy across the BSR, 2. An accompanying value chain mapping manual and 3. A good practice study “smart specialisation in the Baltic Sea Region – Learning towards Macro-regional Specialisation”. The latter one is based on several interviews with nine BSR regions among which also the City of Hamburg is represented. The study focuses on the role S3 has played across the BSR and particularly the open and integrative way of setting up a new smart specialisation strategy in Hamburg for the next programming period has set a new standard among German regions. Moreover, the project coordinates a "BSR Director’s Network" comprising a voluntary group of BSR regions represented by senior regional directs with a key responsibility for overseeing strategic direction for S3 in their regions. Again, City of Hamburg is involved in this high-level group.

The next steps of the project involve several online workshops and interregional innovation camps during spring 2021 to bring together S3-related specialists, networks, and policy makers from across Europe and the EU macro-region. The aim is not only to share the experience and learnings from BSR S3 Ecosystem but also to gather feedback to the different reports.

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Mirko Kruse

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