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MAPS-LED Report Summary

Project ID: 645651
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.3.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MAPS-LED (Multidisciplinary Approach to Plan Smart Specialisation Strategies for Local Economic Development)

Reporting period: 2015-04-01 to 2017-03-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

In the last two decades, European regions and cities had to deal with a strong dichotomy being inherent with improving competitiveness and ensuring equal opportunities, amongst social inclusion issues. The globalization context required a structural change in policy design, in each level of government and in different forms of governance. From local to global level, the need to be more proactive in order to create conditions of competitive advantages arose, contemporarily with a more integrated approach to face social inequalities. The common space of change lies in building an innovative policy perspective involving all “sectors” of life.
At European level, with the Smart Specialisation theoretical approach the term of innovation has become a catalyst for designing the change in the current cohesion policy. The Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) has been designed in order to capture knowledge and innovation dynamics strictly connected with characteristics of context. It is argued that introducing smart specialisation in regional policy agenda allows at reinforcing territorial knowledge dynamics connected with place-based approach in designing local economic development. European Regions and Cities are experiencing this paradigmatic shift put in place by the EU focusing on Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) as main driver in stimulating a smart, inclusive and sustainable growth through the Innovation Union flagship programme within Europe 2020. The IU flagship placed innovation as an open system in which actors cooperate and interact. The objective is to address R&D and Innovation Policy toward the current challenges of our society such as climate changes, efficient use of resources and energy health and demographic changes. IU is the main reference policy for the development of ‘place-based’ smart specializations, and identifies regions as the main institutions capable to achieve these objectives by creating positive outlook for innovation, education and research. The Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) is the key to identify and select the existing/potentials domains on which a region should concentrate its own efforts. The EDP is an inclusive and interactive bottom-up approach, which thanks to the engagement of different actors, contributes in discovering and producing information for potentials new activities and potentials opportunities facilitating policy makers in finding appropriate strategies in the realisation of this potentials. EDP “pursues the integration of entrepreneurial knowledge” which is fragmented and distributed, through the building of partnerships and connections, favouring the entrepreneurial knowledge concentration.
The MAPS-LED project focuses on the influence of the context on resource utilization behaviour with respect the innovation flow, especially in lagging behind regions. The aim is to figure out how the connection of urban policy with place-based innovation approach allows at reaching the knowledge convergence to activate informational spillovers. It is largely assumed that “the economic geography experiences are very different in different part of Europe. Any discussions regarding the potential role to be played by regional and urban development policy in the heterogeneous EU context must explicitly take these specific features and differences into consideration.”

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

"The general objective of the MAPS-LED project is to examine how S3 can be implemented, with respect to the new agenda of Europe 2020, by incorporating a place-based dimension. The main objectives are: 1) to identify and examine S3 in terms of spatial, social and environmental factors; 2) to take into account local needs and opportunities driving regional policy interventions not only to emphasize “Key Enable Technologies”, but also to empower local innovation process – tacit knowledge, embedded social networks, innovative milieu. The originality and innovation in the methodological approach stems from the spatial led approach to the analysis of US clusters, allowing to draw evidence for a S3 place-based theory testing pilot S3 areas in European regional contexts.
The MAPS-LED process starts from a place-based framework and includes three important drivers:
1. Cluster policy and cluster-based analysis,
2. Knowledge based urban development and urban regeneration mechanisms;
3. Innovative milieu in terms of the local value chains based on the urban-rural linkages.
Among the theoretical approaches that explained how Cluster and S3 share many similarities in their rationale, the research activities led to focus on the place-based approach as nexus in spurring the innovation process by emphasizing the role of the city.
Thanks to the exchange scheme of RISE programme, the MAPS-LED project has delivered a methodology to spatialize economic clusters in Boston, as expression of how innovation is experimented in the modern economy and how the “place” works. The research activities accomplished during the first period aimed at searching, across the whole domain of innovation policy and its practical expression, a methodological framework in which the ""place"" acquired a specific connotation in designing ""tailored policy"" for innovation and knowledge spillovers.
The research findings of the WP1 “Research and Innovation Strategies in Cluster policy” have pushed towards the direction to explain how cluster performance factors can be combined with the context characteristics by highlighting the spatial implications of knowledge dynamics. The understanding of innovation-led propensity of cluster allowed spatializing innovation and considering the cluster maps at city level a proxy of innovation concentration.
The research findings of the WP2 “Cluster policy & Spatial Planning” have pushed towards the direction to explain how the innovation has become a source of urban form and its transformation, pushing urban regeneration initiatives driven by the demand for innovation. The relationship innovation-space/place spurs the knowledge dynamics necessary to activate Entrepreneurial Discovery Process. The result lies in finding a new concept of the urban dimension within S3, different from the current vision of the city mostly connected to S3 in terms of Smart City strategy and less considered as a place of spurring innovation.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The contribution of MAPS-LED project in the current debate concerns the explanation of how territorial strategies can be part of “regional innovation strategies for S3”.
The project argue that the inclusion of the spatial dimension in the entrepreneurial discovery process is an important factor to diffuse the clustering phase because allows at highlighting: 1) Economic agglomerations where innovation may occur, 2) The concentration of resources, critical mass (physical, social, financial) for knowledge convergence.
The expected impact lies in enhancing knowledge sharing process in building a smart platform (open innovation model) Including and supporting knowledge dynamics by supporting the creation of cluster initiatives and cluster organisations through urban regeneration mechanisms. Platform called my.STARTup explores the Living Lab as a tool finalized to contextualize an integrated approach to reinforce the role of the city in the creation of knowledge dynamics. The turning point lies in structuring and stimulating a local entrepreneurial discovery process, continuously, in order to make dynamic the territorial knowledge.

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