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2013. 06. 03.I author: European Association of Development Agencies -

Involving enterprises in the design of a RIS3 strategy

The RIS3 strategy is based on the enterprise and public sector discovery process. The critical issue is how to identify in which enterprises, or in which industry or service sector such a discovery process is currently vibrant or it will emerge in the near future.

Enterprise involvement is required at all stages of the RIS3 process, i.e. analysis, design, implementation and evaluation. To ensure that the best assessment can be made, it's useful to involve enterprises and in particular SMEs in both the design of the RIS3 strategy and in the evaluation of the RIS3 implementation.

To be able to identify the discovery process, regional authorities should undertake three main actions:

  1. understand the idea to market cycle of the regional strategic sectors and the identification of enterprise dynamic for each strand of that cycle;
  2. observe which enterprises are developing or are best placed to develop such a discovery journey;
  3. engage in a dialogue with enterprise leaders to identify the intelligence and support scheme to be put in place to help the potential winners in their discovery process.

For the first two actions, regional public stakeholders develop an assessment and analysis tool inspired by the following considerations:

  • The idea to market cycle can be summarized as follows:

Generation of ideas

Creation of knowledge

Protection of knowledge

Acquisition, transfer and absorption of know-how

Pre-commercial maturation of knowledge

Support to commercialisation of know-how


R&D grants


Staff mobility

Proof of concept

Innovative public procurement


R&D tax holiday


Living labs


First client

Societal demand

Open innovation


Technology transfer



Public procurement in the field of societal challenges


Know-how transfer

Seed / Early stage / BAN


Research Intensive Clusters


Licence acquisition




Market intelligence


Staff recruitment or PhD placement


Technology fairs



  • The identification of enterprises engaged in a discovery process could be done on the basis of their investment in the following matters:

The RIS3 strategy has to be "evidence-based":

To be done:

- verify/contribute to the analysis of the existing/emerging regional economic specialisation assets

- ask all regional administrations to provide data

How to do it:

- ask to comment on the regional SWOT analysis

- review with enterprises the support service bottlenecks

- discuss the gaps in cluster policies, sectorial value chains and regional foresight

- assess the regional ability to work at cross-sectorial frontiers and to use key-enabling technologies (KETs)

The RIS3 Platform stakeholders are advising to involve and share views with enterprises because they can contribute to market intelligence. Industrial players, hidden champions and entrepreneurial innovators have the expertise on the market potential of new ideas, technology and knowledge, and the economic base that already exists in a country or region. They may be in the manufacturing sectors, but also services and social economy enterprises should be considered. It is their "entrepreneurial discovery" of promising fields, cross-checked by the science sector. Since smart specialization addresses entrepreneurs as drivers of innovation, they are invited to provide their insights and to share their perspective on the future innovation system.

In its attempt to help regional stakeholders to strengthen the contribution of enterprises in the RIS3, the RIS3 Platform suggests to reply amongst a few others to the question of:

  • Which type of enterprises (i.e. large multinational firms and/or hidden champions and/or key entrepreneurial innovators) are situated in your region? Do they belong to the economic key activities or are they situated in the other. How would you describe their structural involvement in regional planning/innovation policy development?
  • Considering skills, expertise and knowledge: name up to three fields/challenges in which your region excels/has the potential to put itself on the map as a recognized world-class place of competence?
  • Which technologies, products and global market opportunities do you conceive as very promising for your regional economy in the upcoming decade?
  • What upcoming threats and challenges do you see for the regional economic key activities (and the regional economy as a whole) in the next decade?
  • How much internationalized is your regional economy (i.e. how export-oriented are the key activities, foreign direct investments) - which sectors are the most open in that respect? To which destinations do most exports go?
  • Which economic activities in your region are strong in R&D and innovation investment and technology development? Where do they get their new scientific and technological knowledge or their innovative ideas from? From regional universities or from international R&D partners, from suppliers, clients, in-house staff?

For this exercise it is important that public stakeholders select the key leading entrepreneurs who are able to see past their own particular interests.

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