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Making ‘smart specialisation’ smarter: an industrial-innovation system approach: the case of Agri-tech East

‘Smart specialisation’ is a conceptual and policy approach that aims to help regions participate in today’s highly competitive global environment by taking advantage of their distinctive industrial and innovation strengths to identify promising areas for future regional specialisation. The merits of this approach are widely recognised but taking it into practice has proved rather problematic. Some of the key challenges policy makers face in formulating effective smart specialisation strategies are the difficulty to make sense of increasingly complex industrial systems, the lack of internationally comparable data at the regional level, and the lack of practice?oriented frameworks to support industrial and innovation capabilities.


This exploratory project has been conceived in collaboration with the UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) to explore new approaches to support smart specialisation efforts by UK regions. The project suggests an ‘industrial?innovation system’ approach to structure more granular smart specialisation analyses and to guide ‘smarter’ choices. A case study in the agri-tech industry in the East of England (with a focus on crops) has been conducted to illustrate the suggested approach and test the emerging concepts. This investigation has been done in collaboration with Agri-Tech East, a cluster organisation that serves the agri-tech business and research communities in the East of England.


In conjunction with other projects commissioned by BIS, it is expected that the findings of this report will help regions reveal opportunities for maximising the impact and efficiency of public funding, in particular EU instruments for, or related to, research, development and innovation.

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