RIS3 in macro-regional strategies: building a comparative framework to learn from other regions

Meeting topic: 

In the current debate on post 2020 European Cohesion Policy, it would be important to capitalize on two pillars of the ongoing policy programmes: the transnational macro-regional strategies (MRS) (COWI, 2017) and the research and innovation strategies for smart specialization (RIS3) (Foray et al., 2012; Foray, 2015; Foray, 2018; McCann, 2015; McCann & Ortega-Argilés, 2015; Radosevic, et al. eds., 2017). The EU Macro-Regional Strategies (MRSs), initially launched in the 2007-2013 programming period, align with the EU’s goals of inclusive and sustainable development, by enhancing synergies among neighbouring regions. So far, four MRSs have been designed for regions in the Baltic area (EUSBSR), along the Danube (EUSDR), around the Adriatic and Ionian Seas (EU-SAIR) and in the Alpine area (EUSALP), respectively approved in 2009, 2011, 2014 and in 2015. The core of all four strategies is to enhance complementarities and synergies among regions, with a bottom-up regional policy design across the many countries involved (COWI, 2017). MRSs provide opportunities for cross-fertilizations across countries and domains of interventions, from education to health or social innovation.

The four strategies are at different stages of maturity in elaborating policy programs. This appears to be a critical issue in the further implementation of the strategy in the next 2021-2027 programming period of the cohesion policy, which will aim at “investing in all regions” with "a tailored approach to reduce disparities and help low-income and low-growth regions catch up”, with “locally-led development strategies”. 

The development path of such policy design might leverage on the RIS3s elaborated by the regions, characterized by the identification of strategic areas for intervention, based both on the analysis of the strengths and potential of the local economy and on an Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (Foray, 2015). Building on this broad and diverse picture of strategic interventions at regional and at meso-level (i.e. the macro-regions), the workshop aims to discuss which comparative framework could help policymakers and stakeholders to improve their innovative performance by learning from other regions, and what synergies and complementarities can be enhanced within the MRSs. The workshop focuses on the results achieved, three years after the launch of the European strategy for the Alpine region, for the objective of Action Group 1: “to develop an effective research and innovation ecosystem through the identification of the key strategic sectors where cooperation in Research and Innovation (R&I) can affect either the economy or society”. 

In particular, one of the results of the work of AG1 in the context of the project AlpGov will be presented, that is, the comparative analysis of the priorities of the Smart specialization strategies (S3) of the regions involved in EUSALP, an analysis essential for the definition of shared common priorities and for the drawing up of a S3 and of a research agenda at macro-regional level, strategic objective of AG1. The capitalization of existing results and of the results of other projects is one of the keys to implementing the macro-regional strategies and thus the workshop includes other contributions, like that of the Interreg Alpine Space S3-4 Alp Clusters, which also focuses on the S3 of the macro-regional area, and those of experts and stakeholders of coordination between the macro-regional strategies launched at European level. Moreover, given the richness and vivacity of the protagonists of the research and innovation ecosystem in the Alpine macro-regional area, its efficient development can and must be promoted using technological tools that reflect its complexity and that foster networking between the worlds of research, business and governance. In this context, the interactive technological platform produced by the European project CEF-TELECOM Re-Search Alps – promoted by AG1 – will be presented. This platform identifies, maps and geo-locates (in the Alpine Region and in the 7 states it comprises) the laboratories and research centres (public and private), their activities and the research projects they are involved in: instruments for the dynamic visualization of the research and innovation ecosystem of the Alpine macro-regional area, useful for the planning of activities of networking and strategic synergies that are indispensable for increasing competitiveness in the macro-regional area.

Three years on from the launching of the Alpine macro-regional strategy and in anticipation of the next programming cycle that will see the macro regions as a strategic element of the European Union, the workshop intends to contribute to better focalizing future actions in the context of research and innovation, a crucial context for the growth of competitively in the area.

The present Presidency of EUSALP proposes an encounter of the representatives of R&I of the EUSALP regions and invites them to discuss these topics with academics who have contributed to the analysis of heterogeneity within the macro region (session 1) and experts who have designed specific instruments of analysis (session 2).

The sharing of this knowledge base will be essential to delineate, thanks to the active participation of the representatives of the regions, a concrete orientation through which the macro region strategy can achieve the objectives indicated in the mission of EUSALP.


Policy-makers, academics and other stakeholders are invited to this workshop, which will discuss analytical results about RIS3 and policy implications for macro-regions.


This proposal builds on the AlpGov Project of the Interreg Alpine Space Programme - Priority 4 (Well-Governed Alpine Space), SO4.1 (Increase the application of multilevel and transnational governance in the Alpine Space). Margherita Russo, Francesco Pagliacci and Pasquale Pavone (CAPP - Research Centre for the Analysis of Public Policies, Dipartimento di Economia Marco Biagi, University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy) and Anna Giorgi (Leader AG1 EUSALP Lombardy Region representative, and Gesdimont Research Centre, University of Milan, Milano, Italy)



25 JUNE 2019, 2.00pm-6.30pm

Palazzo Lombardia, Piazza Città di Lombardia 1, Milan, Italy
Entrance N1, 13th floor, Sala Opportunità

14.00 | WELCOME

Ermanno Boccalari, Regione Lombardia - DG Research, Innovation, University, Export and Internationalization, Head of Unit Internationalization, Export and Promotion


Questions to be addressed for designing an R&I macro-regional strategy”- Anna Giorgi, University of Milan, Italy - Leader of the EUSALP Action Group 1 representing Lombardy Region, Italy

14.30-16.00 | SESSION 1 - Results on regions’ socioeconomic characteristics and critical issues with regard to the governance for R&I in a macro-regional perspective

Chair: Fabrizio Rovatti, Member of the EUSALP Action Group 1 representing Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy


  • Roberta Capello Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Henning Kroll, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI, Germany
  • Margherita Russo, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy – Member of the EUSALP Action Group 1 representing the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR)
  • Kadri Ukrainski, University of Tartu, Estonia - Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Economics and Business Administration


  • Alberto Bramanti, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy
  • Aldo Geuna, University of Turin, Italy
  • Mario Cervantes, OECD

Coffee Break

16.15-18.00 | SESSION 2 - Ongoing actions generated by R&I mapping and proposals/recommendations to the Regions towards new programming period

Chair: Martina Hartl, Member of the EUSALP Action Group 1 representing Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, Austria

  • Re-Search Alps, Stefano Sala, University of Milan, Italy
  • S3-4AlpClusters, Michael Keller, HES-SO - University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg
  • RIS3 priorities in EU regions, Pasquale Pavone, Capp-Unimore and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa, Italy


Ales Gnamus, EC-JRC, Expert in energy, smart cities, and engineering; Michaela Gensheimer, ESPON EGTC, Senior Project Expert; Esa Kokkonen, The Baltic Institute of Finland, Director; Interventions by members of the EUSALP Action Group 1 and all participants.


Luca Marchesi, Lombardy Region, DG Environment and Climate – Deputy Head of Unit Environmental Evaluations and authorizations

Marco Peronaci, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, DG for the European Union - EUSALP Italian National Coordinator, Minister Plenipotentiary

Palazzo Lombardia, Milan, Italy

EUSALP Action Group 1 workshop "RIS3 in macro-regional strategies: building a comparative framework to learn from other regions"