Science, technology and innovation policy

Smart specialisation


The Smart specialisation’ approach combines industrial, educational and innovation policies to suggest that countries or regions identify and select a limited number of priority areas for knowledge-based investments, focusing on their strengths and comparative advantages.

This entails:

» More effective spending of public resources, concentrating on certain domains of knowledge or expertise.

» The creation of synergies between public support mechanisms for R&D and innovation, industrial promotion and training institutions.

» The elimination of fragmentation and duplication of policy interventions that may result in a waste of public resources.

» The identification of the strongest or promising domains for entrepreneurship and growth through a careful analysis of the existing capabilities, assets, competences, competitive advantages in a city, region or country.

» Mechanisms to enable strategic development based on multi-faceted and multi-governance interactions.

» Mapping and benchmarking of cluster including analyses of the role and influence of key players.

» Evidence-based monitoring and evaluation systems to select the knowledge domains and innovation projects.

The OECD has been instrumental in fostering the political space for Smart Specialisation. Following the December 2012 joint EU-OECD high-level seminar in Brussels, the focus is now on implementation. This will be discussed at the upcoming Strategies for Sustainable Development UN Conference in Geneva, 16-17 October 2014, hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.


Innovation-driven Growth in Regions: The Role of Smart Specialisation‌  The OECD report “Innovation-driven Growth in Regions: The Role of Smart Specialisation” bridges the gap between theory and implementation through case studies that illustrate the conditions in which the concept of smart specialisation can be used to design better public policies for boosting innovation driven growth in OECD regions. It emphasises the need for robust framework conditions, which allow market-driven allocation of innovation, capital and labour – only competitive and open markets are amenable to innovation. But smart specialisation also establishes the need for government to listen to market signals when allocating budgets for investment in knowledge and innovation across different fields and sectors. 


Smart Specialisation- Strategies for Sustainable Development UN Conference
Applied Policy Seminar, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
16-17 October 2014, Geneva, Switzerland

OECD Outreach Workshop on Smart Specialisation for Innovation-Driven Growth: Its Extension to East Asia
Organised by STEPI, Gwangju Technopark and the OECD
Sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Korea and Gwangju Metropolitan City
3-5 April 2013, Gwangju, Korea

Joint EU-OECD High-level Seminar for Smart Specialisation
Organised by the OECD and the European Commission (DG Regio)
5 December 2012, Brussels

Second OECD Workshop on Smart Specialisation: Case Studies and Governance Profiles
10-11 May 2012, Paris, France

Joint Expert Meeting on the “Self-assessment Tool” and the “S3 Guide”
OECD, Austrian Delegation and EU (DG Regio and IPTS)
28-29 March 2012, Linz, Austria

First Joint Workshop on Smart Specialisation Strategies: Concepts and Tools
Hosted by Andalusia and co-organised by the Andalusian Government, OECD and IPTS
22-24 November 2011, Seville, Spain



Mario Cervantes, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation


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