News archive - [Event Review] Training Workshop on Smart Specialisation for South East European countries

The two-day training event on Smart Specialisation, jointly organised by WBC-INCO.NET with financial support of Central European Initiative (CEI), took place on 11-12 April in Belgrade, Serbia.
Smart Specialisation is a unique concept gaining momentum in the research and innovation priority setting agendas in the EU Member States. Moreover, smart specialisation is also gaining importance in the Western Balkan and Danube region countries. It uniqueness lies, among others, in the necessity for a strong interconnection, dialogue and consent between key stakeholders of research and innovation policies as well as in its comprehensive regional approach to the definition of national strengths, weaknesses and strategies for research and innovation.

The event has featured a number of top-notch experts in the smart specialisation concepts as well as practitioners experienced in the implementation of the research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation in practice. More than 45 participants from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, FYR of Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo (under UNSCR 1244), Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine have contributed to the workshop.

The focus of the first day lied on the theoretical concepts underlying the definition of the smart specialisation strategies while during the second day; participants got a chance to apply theoretical concepts in the practical group work session in the morning and to compare the results of this session with the reality of the smart specialisation definition processes from selected case studies in the afternoon.

At the beginning of the first day, the event was officially opened by the organisers and hosts- Ms Vranes and Mr Kutlaca from Mihajlo Pupin Institute, Mr Radovic from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia, Mr Lombardo from CEI, Italy and Mr Zaharis from SEERC, Greece.

After the warm welcome words, Alexander Kleinbrink and Ales Gnamus from Joint Research Centre (JRC), Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS) from Spain introduced the basic concepts around the smart specialisation strategy and explicated the procedure on how to define regional or national smart specialisation strategies.  Smart Specialisation is a concept that fits very well with the endeavours at the European level which are calling for more efficient and effective regional development and innovation policies, avoiding overlaps and imitation as well as for transparent priority setting processes involving a range of crucial actors, among them government, businesses and creative providers such as ICT, research and educational providers. Research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) are extensively described also within the RIS3 Guide that has been published by JRC and is available at During the presentation, participants could have learnt that all steps in the definition process of the RIS3 are equally important. For more information please refer to the presentation 1.

Mr Dearle from DG Research and Innovation has set the concept of smart specialisation into the wider context of the European regional and research and innovation policies as well as into the regional context of the WBC and Danube region countries and their specificities. Representatives from the region have also shown interest in learning more about the conditionality of smart specialisation concepts for usage of the cohesion and pre-accession funds. For more information please refer to the presentation 2.

In the following, Christian Hartmann from Joanneum Research, Austria and Armin Mahr from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research provided a brief presentation of the RIS3 Self-Assessment Key for different actors of the research and innovation field (available at and its usefulness in practice. This tool has been already available in numerous languages and on occasion of the Smart Specialisation Workshop in Belgrade, it has been also translated to Serbian language. Importantly, the RIS3 key is still open for further translations so all interested parties are welcome to contact with requests for translation. The RIS3 Self-assessment brochure has been also illustrated with the examples from Austria, namely Upper Austrian strategy definition process. For more information please refer to the presentations 3, 4 & 5.

The second day has been devoted to the reflection of the theoretical basis. In the morning, workshop participants have been divided into 5 country groups: Hungary, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro with subsequent presentations and discussions in the plenary. During the common discussions, it became clear that smart specialisation concept calls for the broader than national analysis of the background conditions, countries are to be considered as an integral part of the wider regional context with all possibilities and challenges. Moreover, smart specialisation should not necessarily aim for the benefits of the economies of scale, but can also smartly focus on the more expensive niche markets. The manner of engaging stakeholders is also crucial as shown in the presentation of Matthias Woiwode von Gilardi, DLR, Germany (see presentation 6).

Further discussions on practical implementation of smart specialisation definition processes have followed during the case studies from Crete, Greece (presented by Ioannis Tolias from Innovatia Systems, Greece) and Bratislava, Slovakia (presented by Stefan Vrátny from Business and Innovation Centre, Slovakia, see presentations 7 & 8).

In order to provide the measure of success, participants were given an evaluation form to fill out upon completion of the training. Over 90% of participants rated: The Overal Organisation, The Documentation Provided, The Quality Of Presentations, Presentations Day1, Presentations Day2,  Training Gained From The Workshop , The Opportunity For Networking as good or very good ( possible answers included: very good, good, acceptable, insufficient, poor). Over 70% participants rated good CEI visibility and over 85% participants rated good visibility.

Frequently cited comments included:

•           Very useful and valuable workshop with great organization

•           Very useful to really understand what Smart Specialisation is.

•           Group work was excellent . Learned some important issues in RIS3 process.

For some impressions from the event as well as presentations, please refer to the attachments.

To conclude, the event seemed to produce a number of very strong multiplicators of smart specialisation knowledge that have a good potential to help pushing the process of smart specialisation definition in their own countries forward. We wish them all a lot of success!

Geographical focus
  • Danube Macroregion
  • Western Balkans
Scientifc field / Thematic focus
  • Social Sciences

Entry created by Gabriela Thomasova on April 18, 2013
Modified on May 3, 2013