What is the Smart Specialization project?

The Strategic Project “Plan of Smart Regional Specialization for the promotion of competitiveness, research and innovation” with acronym “SMART SPECIALIZATION” is funded by the European Territorial Cooperation Programme “Greece-Bulgaria 2007-2013”.

The Programme aims at a stronger and more sustainable economic and social developmental borderline with a Strategic Goal “to promote the cross-border area by ensuring regional cohesion and enhancing competitiveness”.

Under the Strategic call Projects are oriented towards the confrontation of strategically common, complex and innovative regional development issues.

The eligible area of the Programme consists of the Region of Central Macedonia and the Region of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace in Greece and the South-West Planning Region and South-Central Planning Region in Bulgaria.

In the strategy framework for Europe 2020, Smart Specialization is in the center of EU interests and represents a key element for regional development. The Strategic Project will assist the Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialization, in order to enhance the Cross Border Interregional cooperation. The project aims at providing a preview of European Regional Innovation trends for the next programming period by presenting the concept of Smart Specialization and its potential impact on regional development trajectories.

The strategic project “Smart Specialization” aims at assisting all eligible regions in developing, administrating and implementing the priority policy of Research and Innovation Strategy for Smart Specialization of the upcoming programming period 2014 – 2020. Through the project the action that will be implemented will be of three main categories: Studies supporting the policy of smart specialization with regard to the:

  • Drafted policy of each Region
  • Promotion of fields and practices for implementation
  • Previous policy practices and results
  • Cross border cooperation outcomes and potentials
  • Actions promoting and assisting high value:
  • Employment, mobility and knowledge transfer
  • Entrepreneurship and business development
  • Cooperation, networking and dissemination

These actions in order to be executed with the highest added value require the involvement of highly experienced and trained individuals. The specialized people that will be involved in the project range from: New and experienced staff that is already employed or will be added to the partner, Experts in the field of policy making, European objectives, finance and economics, business and management consultants with experience of the local market and new business trends, Academics that are involved in the research and study of smart specialization policy and best practices.

In the first case the people involved will be added to the staff budget costs, a practice that is highly valued as it provides the body with in-house expertise and knowledge that is more easily transferred. In order though for the expert knowledge to be incorporated and applied to the project, even partners that prefer to have more staff will need people from the second and third cases to provide them with knowledge and expertise. In this case the people would have to cost significantly more due to the knowledge transfer cost and the rate that companies have for their people for small assignments.

On the other hand other bodies mostly prefer to have their usual staff and provide more costs to external experts budget costs either because the objectives of the body are greater and more strategic that the specific project or because they want to be more agile in their management and avoid bureaucratic procedures that might endanger the progress of the project. In this case they tend to outsource the tasks to experts that will fulfill highly specific and strict criteria of quality and performance. This practice is more flexible for the progress of the project as it is easy to perform changes that will serve the better implementation of action that are needed as the project moves.

Assigning action to external expertise is usually done through open tender procedures that give the ability to all interested and willing people to participate. Usually due to the highly specialized and complex nature of the tender mostly consulting companies participate proving their prior experience and by creating each time unique workgroups of high specialized individuals of various backgrounds for different parts of the project and for the precise time and duration. Such companies operate at a higher cost than would staff of individual consultants but they offer the benefits of added value and multiplier effects to highly innovative and diversified projects.