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2014. 04. 25.I author: European Association of Development Agencies -

Field experience as a RIS3 expert - by Christian SAUBLENS

Being an external expert for the validation of the RIS3 process and advising the organisation in charge of the design of the RIS3 is an interesting and exciting task. Indeed, it allows one to offer outside views on its design and its content and to advise where to look at in order to find inspiration for doing things differently. It also allows taking part in brainstorming exercises to overcome bottlenecks. I had the privilege to work with the Canary Islands (ES) and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (FR).

The points both regions had to overcome and for which they sought advice were:

  • how to balance the product mix;
  • how to ensure private sector investment;
  • what indicators to take on board for the evaluation process;

and the unsolved issues:

  • how will the managing authorities take into account the RIS3 priorities in the O.P.;
  • what will be the budget dedicated to the RIS3 priorities?


The two teams did a great job in demonstrating the reality of their place-based choices and in ensuring a fair participation of all stakeholders in the design of the RIS3. They also deployed efforts to ensure the participation of private stakeholders in the R&D+I activities.


The main difficulties they had to face were:

  • the relative importance given to R&D+I activities versus other regional challenges, mainly those related to social welfare;
  • the absence of clear indications concerning the budget which would be dedicated to R&D+I: most of stakeholders are waiting to know the budget which will be allocated in the O.P. instead of building their own financial scenario;
  • the best way to transfer new tools in order to enlarge their portfolio of support services to SMEs;
  • how to turn some of the EU concepts into regional actions, such as the entrepreneurial discovery process, ...
  • the willingness of the public sector to innovate in order to change the way they will implement the policy mix.


The Canary Islands are facing a big challenge: how to sustain the high level of expertise in astrophysics and in marine sciences, even though the dedicated centres don’t contribute to the current local fabric. The R&D excellence is an oasis in a desert of innovation. Nord-Pas-de-Calais’ difficulties are related to the complex French governance system. In theory France has regions with an elected Chambre but the state bodies still have the final word as well as the financial means in hands.


I also contributed by providing ideas of tools implemented somewhere else or by thinking in a slightly different way. By way of example the list of tools which might provide inspiration to the Canary Island’s stakeholders for renewing their portfolio of support services is reproduced hereafter.


Another example is my suggestion to the Nord-Pas-de-Calais RIS3 team to gain a better insight in the entrepreneurial discovery process which is illustrated hereafter.


Entrepreneurial discovery process: support measures to enhance market maturity


I believe these missions were a good win-win exercise. The RIS3 teams could benefit from an outsider’s view, and a catalyst for consensus-building between the various stakeholders. For me it was a challenge to explain which and how tools can be adapted to a given environment.

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