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Smart specialisation in Swedish regions

Smart specialisation (S3) is a tool for regional development that promotes innovation based on the preconditions of a region. On this page we provide examples from Sweden along the main steps of the process.

Smart specialisation aims at strengthening the competitiveness of regions by identifying areas within which the region has a potential for growth. It is about existing areas of strength as well as developing new areas. S3 is a way of working where thorough analysis and dialogue are keywords and can be briefly described in a simplified six-step process.

Six steps for smart specialisation

Six-step process: analysis, governance, vision, priority setting, policy mix, evaluation.

The process take place within a region, but regional representatives should connect to actors outside of the region in order to achieve globally competitive solutions.

Examples of strategies that also describe work processes

Analysis

The first step is a background analysis to identify potential future areas and which actors in a region that are relevant to engage in the process. This phase also aims at comparing the region with the outside world. To indicate where the region has a potential competitive advantage but also identify potential partners.

Västra Götaland region has investigated potential partnersexternal link, opens in new window. There are also a number of examples och background material under the heading Analysunderlagexternal link, opens in new window, mainly in Swedish.

There is not one model for this type of analysis, but regions have used both quantitative analyses of regional strengths as well as qualitative.

Örebro and Stockholm has made extensive maps of potential areas of strength.

Potential areas of strength Örebro (in Swedish)external link, opens in new window

Potential areas of strength Stockholm (in Swedish)external link, opens in new window

Governance

Part of the process is to establish steering groups consisting of regional key players for both the overall strategic work as well as for the various priority areas.

In many places there is a cluster organization or an innovation network, which is responsible for the region's work in a field of specialisation, such as Visual Sweden in Östergötlandexternal link, opens in new window or Smart Textiles in Västra Götaland.external link, opens in new window

Vision

Together, stakeholders in the process create a joint vision. This should indicate what the region wants to be in the future, what goals one wishes to achieve and why they are important.

Jämtland Härjedalen’s vision for innovationexternal link is to move from being a well-known region that is a good place to live, to a world-leading brand that symbolises modern, innovation-driven social development, powered by an open, sustainable and attractive lifestyle

In this text Dalarna's vision for Smart specialisationexternal link is outlined and.

Priority setting

An important part of the smart specialisation process is to identify priority areas to focus on. These areas are chosen based on the analytical material and vision, in consultation with the actors involved in the entrepreneurial discovery process. Many regions have a form of portfolio selection, with both more established strengths and more growth areas, more technology-focused, but also those that bring in more aspects of innovation, a so-called broad view (e.g. environmentally-friendly, service and social innovation).

Värmland has areas that are more technology-oriented as advanced manufacturing and complex systems, but also those that build more on services and experiences, such as digitized experiences and digital welfare services, as well as an enabling area of ​​service innovation that strengthens all other areas.

Östergötland's Smart industry specialisationexternal link, opens in new window works with what they call enabling areas of strength, which are expected to lead to growth and more companies in specific niches, but also have the potential to contribute to innovation and competitiveness in many of the region's employment-strong industries.

Policy mix

When priority areas have been selected, the next step is to develop sub-strategies for each priority area, which outlines timelines, partners, activities and interventions to be implemented to achieve the goals, including both regional partners and beyond.

In the Västra Götaland region action plansexternal link, opens in new window have been developed for their various smart areas of specialisation.

Evaluation

Smart specialisation stresses that processes should be entrepreneurial and experimental and that learning, follow-up and evaluation is central. Through feedback, the S3 strategy is refined and adapted as the world changes.

In Värmland, Dalarna and Gävleborg,external link they base these processes on experiences from cluster evaluation.