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Strategy Councils

Think tank groups of regional experts in important for the local economy sectors, Weser-Ems region, Germany

Contact person:

Dieter Meyer

URL: www.weser-ems.eu (under preparation)

Link of the GP to the RIS3 steps:

Step 2. Set up of a sound and inclusive governance structure



Country: Germany         Name of the region: Weser-Ems         Level: NUTS II

Description of the GP: 

After a long process of development and discussion which lasted 18 months, the region Weser-Ems has put forward a Strategy on „Cross-Linking Knowledge in Weser-Ems 2020” in March 2013 with the aim of innovatively cross-linking existing knowledge in the region and thereby generating additional economic results, particularly for the local small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This strategy is oriented towards the basic principles of „Smart Specialisation”, the current paradigm in EU regional policy for the new programming period of the Structural Funds, which is also conditionality for the programming level in Lower Saxony.

Within the framework of the knowledge and specialisation strategy for Weser-Ems, a focus on the three regional fields of competence bio-economy, energy and maritime economy is envisaged. These fields of competence are characterised by a high rate of employment, entire value chains, notable potential for innovation and international competitiveness. Particularly in these fields, a systematic cross-linking of knowledge between economy and science is aspired for the future which also includes cross-sectoral measures as well as the connection to key enabling technologies.
The instrument of „Strategy Councils” is at the heart of this strategy. These think tanks are groups of regional experts (10-15) with the „best regional minds” set up in the three fields of competence bio-economy, energy and maritime economy.

In the three Strategy Councils (and subsequent working groups), the following measures are supposed to be implemented:

  • Development and processing of strategic questions regarding the three fields of competence
  • Chairing of the Strategy Councils by an professionally experienced coordinator acquainted with the regional conditions who also externally represents the Strategy Council
  • Implementation of targeted subsequent expertise inquiries and project developments to operationalise the results of the Strategy Councils and further develop scenarios
  • Recommendations by the Strategy Councils regarding the development, equipment and profile of the regional knowledge infrastructure in the form of “Master Plans 2020”

Additionally, so-called „Knowledge Hubs” are installed for each field of competence, which support the work of the Strategy Councils on a wider basis. They primarily consist of regional experts, economic developers, managers of education, clusters or network as well as innovation advisers who are interested in participating. It is their task to assess the identified need for action with a view to specific sectors, identify as well as develop good examples/solutions and present or respectively implement these within the realm of their responsibility.

The district Osnabrück is responsible for the coordination of the Strategy Council and the Knowledge Hub in the field of bio-economy, the city of Oldenburg has been assigned for the field of energy, while the district of Leer is responsible for the field of maritime economy. The coordination is respectively taken over for the whole region of Weser-Ems.

Challenges addressed by the GP:

Organize it - Helping actors create synergies in their actions
Organize it - Ensuring knowledge-based consensus
Organize it - Defining the decision-making process

Impact and beneficiaries:


The Strategy Councils are a special example for the ability of a region to strategically self-organize (on NUTS II level) and to successfully represent its interests also vis-à-vis the institutions responsible for the EU programme development and implementation.

It is a governance and management structure that all actors of the region can profit from. About 50 top representatives of the regional economy, science and administration are regularly and actively involved in the activities of the Strategy Councils. Within the Knowledge Hubs as an operative structure, approx. 300 persons/institutions from economy, science and administration are participating, particularly intermediaries.

Requirements and limitations:

Precondition for success is the existence of a very high willingness of regional key actors to cooperate and participate. Critical aspect has been found in ensuring the regional acceptance of recommendations by the Strategy Councils which are bodies without legal binding force / legitimation.

Funding source:

Annual budget: 639 000 EUR (2014-2015)

ERDF-Funding / Lower-Saxony 50 %
Districts / Cities: 37 %
Business Sector 13 %