SMARTER 2020 Conference Webinar series - Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability - opportunities for economic recovery and competitiveness

06 October 2020

Date and time

06 October 2020, 09:30
06 October 2020, 11:30


In July 2020, the EU agreed to mobilise over € 1.8 trillion to recover, reform and renew its economy. Today, EU Member States and their regions are elaborating their first plans on how to best use these funds. EU policy orientations highlight the value added of investing in products, services and innovative solutions for the green and digital transition. Since 2014, regions across Europe have elaborated ‘smart specialisation strategies’, some of which already focus on sustainability. Many cities have urban sustainable development plans. These strategies have improved local governance with long-term policy thinking, place-based sensitivity and focused investment inspired by the entrepreneurial discovery process. They have enhanced local capacities of policy design, monitoring and learning. For 2021, are we ready for the next step: place-based innovation for sustainability?

A recent report by Philip McCann and Luc Soete reflects on the implications of this new EU policy for regions and cities. Their report highlights two consequences for smart specialisation: opportunities and effects. They coined Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability with a strong sensitivity to inclusiveness (S4+), leaving no person and no place behind. This Webinar aims at deepening these reflections on Smart Specialisation Strategies for Sustainability+. As the Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, stressed in her State of the Union speech on the 16th September 2020, now is the time of action for implementing the European Green Deal.

This Webinar situates smart specialisation strategies in the new EU policy agenda with the European Green Deal as EU’s new growth strategy. The recent EU recovery package confirms this directionality, where investment and innovation-driven policy for sustainability drive opportunities for economic recovery. Which opportunities for local industrial strategies arise in the green and digital transition tilted by the new EU policy? How can smaller countries, regions and cities in Europe design bottom-up strategies reaping the opportunities of the green and digital transition for local jobs and growth? Which investments and innovation measures can make this happen? How do we understand and anticipate transitions and local trade-offs?


6 October 2020, 9:30-11:30 CEST

Background material:

"Place-based innovation for sustainability" report from Philip McCann and Luc Soete.

Agenda and Presentations

9:30 to 9:45 - Welcome address

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

9:45 to 10:30 - Session 1: Opportunities for regions and cities

The entrepreneurial discovery process is bottom-up and may at first sight very well opt for other growth paths than sustainability. Why should a region or a city orient its industrial strategies towards sustainability? What would regions or cities gain from focusing investment on products, services and solutions for the green, circular and digital economy? Would that help the recovery in creating local jobs and growth? How should they go about it? How do we design strategies that turn innovation in sustainability into local jobs and wellbeing for all citizens? Where should the new regional investment go? How do we implement an innovation-driven policy at local level?


Introductory speech by Luc Soete, Free University of Brussels, Belgium co-author of “Place-based innovation for Sustainability”

Reflections and comments by Daria Tataj, Tataj Innovation, and Luke Georghiou, University of Manchester, United-Kingdom

ModeratorJohan Stierna, European Commission, Territorial Development Unit (B3), Joint Research Centre, Spain

10:30 to 11:00 - Session 2: Local trade-offs and early warning signals

The implementation of the European Green Deal may have unexpected effects at local level due to possible trade-offs between sustainability, growth and inclusiveness. Such effects manifest themselves earlier at local level and will be different in different places depending on economic, geographical and governance characteristics. Understanding the changing vulnerability and resilience features of different types of European places is critical in order to make sense of different local options available. At the same time, an early detection of effects at local level can contribute to the multi-level governance and a flexible implementation of the European Green Deal. How can scientific evidence ensure continuous policy learning?


Moderator: Karel Haegeman, European Commission, Territorial Development Unit (B3), Joint Research Centre, Spain

11:00 to 11:20 - Session 3: Questions and Answers

11:20 to 11:30 - Concluding remarks

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


Lesa Reynolds
Event Organiser (for RSA Europe)

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