Best Practice Report: Smart Specialisation Strategies and SET plan implementation actions

Rona Michie, Wilbert den Hoed, Rainer Janssen, Sara Davies

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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This report describes how countries and regions are successfully putting into practice the principles of Smart Specialisation, drawing lessons for TRACER partner regions. Smart Specialisation suggests that the most effective way to deliver innovation, and ultimately regional or national economic development, is to concentrate public and private interventions and resources on a limited number of priorities, based on national/regional strengths. The three case study regions explored in detail in this report – South Limburg (Netherlands), Asturias (Spain) and North-Rhine Westphalia (Germany) - share a history in coal mining, while being diverse in terms of their geographies, transition stages and sectors of specialisation. However, within these different contexts, Smart Specialisation strategies have played a key role in the innovation focus of such regions and in their transition out of coal, partly using the competitive advantages they may have in the production and transportation of energy sources. Besides their Smart Specialisation strategies, the mining history, wider transition policies, challenges and change-enabling conditions show how (former) coal regions have been handling economic diversification and structural adaptation. Together, the longitudinal historical processes and current innovation strategies that shape these regions may be an important resource for S3 and wider transition policies in coal-intensive regions elsewhere. Finally, the Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan has been the research and innovation pillar of the EU's energy and climate policy since 2007, coordinating low-carbon research and innovation activities in EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. The SET Plan helps structure European and national research programmes and triggers substantial investments on common priorities in low-carbon technologies. The implementation of SET Plan Implementation Plans is currently not directly linked with existing R&I strategies for the transition in coal intensive regions. However, the coming years will produce opportunities and potential synergies for SET Plan Implementation Plans with activities in most TRACER target regions facilitating their transition towards a sustainable energy system. Further, TRACER target regions can potentially learn from the best practice projects linked to achieving SET Plan targets.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2019


  • smart specialisation
  • coal-intensive regions
  • regional development
  • best practice
  • strategic energy planning
  • energy transition


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