Research and innovation strategies for smart
specialisation (RIS 3).
Opportunities and Constraints in Portugal
European Commission - Joint Research Centre
Artur Rosa Pires
University of Aveiro
Structure of the Presentation
• RIS 3 - The strength of an emerging policy framework
• RIS 3 - Structuring concepts
• RIS 3 - A deliberately positive perspective
• RIS 3 - Constraints for its application in Portugal
• RIS 3 - Promising “policy” avenues
• Portugal's RIS 3 - Policy suggestions
RIS 3 The strength of an emerging policy framework
• RIS 3 – “the concept has attracted a high level of attention in a short time
span among EU member states.”
• “… elaborated by a group of innovation sholars in 2009, it quickly made a
significant impact on the policy audience … The concept is now a key
element of the EU 2020 innovation plan.”
• “…regions in other parts of the world are now showing a major interest in
the smart specialisation policy approach”
• RIS 3 - An ex-ante conditionality for two thematic objectives.
• A dedicated Platform of Services (JRC in Seville) to support and
disseminate knowledge about smart specialisation.
• A guide to design and implement RIS 3
• An international group of experts.
• A multiplicity of studies, workshops, peer-review meetings, …
• A key dimension of future Cohesion Policy of EU.
• Specialisation – non-neutral policy; concentrate resources in a few domains and
focus efforts in the development of distinctive areas.
• Smart – keeping market forces working to reveal domains and areas where priorities
should be selected.
• Research and Innovation – specialize in certain R+D projects and develop the
ecosystem of innovation.
• It is both a policy objective and a process to help policy makers.
• Support is targeted to the growth of new activities (and not to whole sectors or
single firms) … innovative projects that complement existing productive assets … the
future economic value of a possible direction of change.
• … More than a “single” technological innovation but rather a structural evolution of
the whole regional economy.
• A result oriented approach, the experimental nature of the policy and the need for
evaluation and for an evolving portfolio of priority activities.
RIS 3 – Structuring Concepts.
• Policy momentum – engaging in development policy making, focus on innovation
and on a new context.
• Policy design – involvement of stakeholders, entrepreneurial discovery process,
new combination of ideas.
• Policy content – regional strengths, knowledge processes and accessibility to
• Policy landscape – integration of policy instruments, coherence with other public
policies, common European efforts and learning processes.
• Policy trajectory – structural evolution, generating experiments and discoveries,
evolving policy support.
RIS 3 – A deliberately positive perspective.
RIS 3 - Constraints for its application in Portugal
• No tradition of connecting knowledge with territory.
• No tradition of linking science with private and public innovation
• No tradition of place-based sustained policy-making cooperation
practices, namely those involving prospective thinking.
• The dominant perception of innovation still very much focussed on
high-tech and research-driven activities.
• No tradition of policy (impact) monitoring, debate and collective
• No tradition of sustained management of collaborative endeavours.
• Knowledge and Territory – the missing linkages (Sampaio da Nóvoa, 2013).
• Focus on (regional) assets rather than on “priority sectors” – latent resources
(Hirschman, 1958) – an “inclusive” policy.
• Focus on activities for future specialization and on innovative projects that
complement existing productive assets – “related variety” concept.
• Access to extra-regional resources (including research services) – “actor-constructed
innovation system” (Kalantaridis and Bika, 2012).
• Entrepreneurial discovery – “prioritization” is no longer the role of the omniscient
planner but involves an interactive process including stakeholders with knowledge
other than science and techniques.” Moreover, the emphasis is not on simple
innovations but on “discovery”, likely to generate “imitative entry” and a desirable
structural change for the region.
• Experimental nature of policy – policy trajectory – more than ephemeral
participation in policy making.
RIS 3 – PROMISING “POLICY” AVENUES
Portugal's RIS 3 - Policy suggestions
• Increase incentives for collective action to encourage a regional
process of discovery.
• Develop an effective multi-level governance strategy.
• Strengthen the capacities of universities and the scientific system to
engage with society and the economy
• Support for intermediaries, especially in the absence of research
• Outward looking: policy learning, internationalisation of research,
programmes involving foreign partners
* The analyses and recommendations made in this paper do not represent the official policy of
the European Commission