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31 October 2018San Sebastian Campus

Orkestra researchers contribute to the European Commission handbook “Higher Education for Smart Specialisation”

Miren Larrea and Miren Estensoro, researchers of Orkestra - Basque Institute of Competitiveness, are co-authors of the European Commission recently published handbook “Higher Education for Smart Specialisation”. Together with Eskarne Arregui-Pabollet, Scientific Officer of the Joint Research Centre (European Commission), they wrote the chapter about the role of “Higher Education Institutions in the Governance of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3)”.

Smart Specialisation is a European Union strategy to guarantee territorial competitiveness and well being. It is a “place-based approach” characterised by the identification of strategic areas for intervention based both on the analysis of the regional strengths and the potential of the economy and on an Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) with wide stakeholder involvement.

The European Commission Handbook aims to provide advice for S3 managers on how to form closer partnerships with Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), including understanding Higher Education systems and career incentives, the role played by HEIs in the “Entrepreneurial Discovery Process” and monitoring, how to design effective funding instruments, and the involvement of HEIs in S3 governance structures.


According to M. Larrea and M. Estensoro “governance of smart specialisation raises several challenges: ranging from the horizontal coordination between ministries or government sectors to including civil society in its construction, with a key step being the need to build a vision shared by actors in the territory". They point out that the S3 governance system should include a well-balanced representation of stakeholders, HEIs among them, to ensure a distributed leadership, co-ownership and long-term commitment for the achievement of S3 objectives. The chapter emphasises the importance of HEIs being involved in the early definition of the S3 governance structures to ensure a meaningful and coordinated contribution from the three university missions (education, research, and transfer). It highlights the benefits of the involvement of the larger university community, from managers, researchers or entrepreneurs in S3 governance levels (strategic, technical and bottom up) and give concrete examples from different EU regions illustrating how challenges associated to S3 governance have been addressed in specific geographical contexts.

You can consult the handbook at this page.