SMARTER 2020 Conference Webinar series

Connecting grand societal challenges with local goals in place-based innovation policy

17 September 2020

Date and time

17 September 2020
03 December 2020


General Information

SMARTER 2020 Conference Webinar series on "Smart Specialisation and Territorial Development: Connecting grand societal challenges with local goals in place-based innovation policy" is co-organised by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and RSA Europe.

Six webinars organised between 17th September and 3rd December 2020

The Territorial Development Unit of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and RSA Europe are delighted to present a webinar series based on selected themes of the SMARTER 2020 Conference. In line with the measures to contain the diffusion of COVID-19, the physical event will be replaced by a series of six webinars held between 17 September and 3 December 2020.

Increasingly, innovation policies are framed around grand societal challenges and sustainable transformation. More traditional objectives of productivity enhancement, job creation and international competitiveness are accompanied by the search for solutions to environmental and social needs in line with the European Green Deal priority and the accomplishments of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, to be achieved through the mobilisation of science, technology and innovation. This transformation is also gaining momentum in local and regional policy making, raising a number of issues in relation to the capacity of place-based industrial innovation policies to meet these goals.

What are the implications of this shift for place-based policy and instruments? What does the alignment of solutions to social and environmental problems with more traditional growth objectives imply? How can potential contradictions between different goals and dimensions (social, environmental and economic) can be resolved? Can we expect territorial policies to deliver on broad societal challenges, by providing solutions to those needs that are locally relevant?

A dreadful pandemic is currently sweeping the planet causing dramatic health, social and economic consequences. We need coordinated policy initiatives at international, national and regional level to mitigate the COVID-19 economic crisis and promote a swift recovery. How can place-based policies play a role in tackling the severe socio-economic impacts of COVID-19? How can they help territories discover new opportunities for more sustainable and inclusive economies?

Open to all, the SMARTER 2020 Webinar series is a forum for debating those issues. It seeks to foster a dialogue between practitioners, policy-makers and researchers.

Smart Specialisation provides a unique entry point for such debate. Smart Specialisation is a place-based EU policy promoting economic transformation by designing targeted investment in research and innovation. Building on a growing interest in this policy, the main principles and mechanisms of Smart Specialisation are travelling fast, attracting attention outside the European Union. At the same time, the Smart Specialisation approach is evolving, incorporating evidence on what worked and what did not, embracing a larger policy scope than just research and innovation and enriching its policy toolbox.

The SMARTER 2020 Webinar series will provide a comprehensive picture of the Smart Specialisation policy experience, including an evaluation of its results and an account of its recent developments both conceptually and empirically.

The webinars will also offer an opportunity to discuss and compare different territorial development approaches, exploring how they engage with the European Commission's priorities for 2019-2024 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Agenda and Presentations

Webinar 1: “Place-based responses to the COVID-19 economic crisis”, 17th September 2020, 10:00 am - 12:00pm CEST

Session 1: From 10:00 to 11:00

ChairMikel Landabaso, Director Growth and Innovation, Joint Research Centre, Spain


  • Stephen Quest, Director-General Joint Research Centre
  • Sally Hardy, CEO, Regional Studies Association, United Kingdom
  • Dominique Foray, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland - "The Role of Smart Specialisation in post COVID-19 Times"


  • Elvira Uyarra, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Laura PolverariUniversity of Padua, Italy

Session 2: from 11:00 to 12:00

Chair: Alessandro Rainoldi, Head of the Territorial Development Unit (B3), Joint Research Centre, Spain


  • Manuel Laranja, ISEG, Lisbon School of Economics & Management, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal – "Rethinking ‘Entrepreneurial Discovery Processes’ in times of physical distancing"
  • Anabela Santos, Joint Research Centre, Spain – "The Role of Smart Specialisation in Tourism Recovery"
  • Edurne Magro, Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Spain – "Towards Recovery: Renewal and Reorientation as Regional Strategies for a Post COVID-19 Era"

Wrap-up by Nicola De MichelisDirector for Smart and Sustainable Growth and Programme Implementation IV, DG REGIO, Belgium

ModeratorKarel Haegeman, B3 – Territorial Development, Joint Research Centre, Spain

Webinar 2: “Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability – opportunities for economic recovery and competitiveness”, 6th October 2020, 9:30- 11:30 CEST

ChairAlessandro Rainoldi, Head of the Territorial Development Unit (B3), Joint Research Centre, Spain


  • Jennifer Casingena Harper, Malta Council for Science & Technology
  • Luke Georghiou, University of Manchester, UK
  • Philip McCann, University of Sheffield, UK
  • Luc Soete, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
  • Daria Tataj, Tataj Innovation

ModeratorJohan Stierna, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Spain

Webinar 3: “Smart Specialisation for Sustainable Development Goals”, 10th November 2020, 11.00-12.30 CET


  • Katerina Ciampi Stancova, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Spain
  • Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Technical University of Vienna & IIASA, Austria,
  • Monika Matusiak, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Spain
  • Michal Miedzinski, Institute for Sustainable Resources, University College London, UK

Webinar 4: "Quality of life in (European) cities: are cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable?", 19th November 2020, 10.00-12.00 CET


Lewis Dijkstra, European Commission, DG REGIO
Nicola Pontarollo, University of Brescia, Italy and Valentina Montalto, DG JRC I.1
Alice Siragusa, European Commission, DG JRC B.3
Lukas Kleine Rueschkamp, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SME’s, Region and Cities, OECD

Webinar 5: “Smart Specialisation: evidence, lessons, challenges and opportunities”, 24th November 2020 time to be confirmed


Francesco Prota, University of Bari, Italy
Laura Polverari, University of Padua, Italy
James Wilson, Deusto University and Orkestra – Basque Institute of Competitiveness, Spain

Webinar 6: “Urban strategies and Smart Specialisation”, 3rd December 2020, time to be confirmed


Fabrizio Barca
Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University, UK
Margit Noll, DJPI Urban Europe, Austria
Martina Pertoldi, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Spain


Lesa Reynolds
Event Organiser (for RSA Europe)

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