RIS3 Regions

The Smart Specialisation Platform provides professional advice to EU countries and regions for the design and implementation of their research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3). Its services include:

  • Provide guidance material and good practice examples
  • Conduct high quality research projects to inform strategy formation and policy-making
  • Facilitate peer-reviews and mutual learning
  • Support access to relevant data
  • Train policy-makers
  • Organise information sessions for policy-makers and present at conferences

Identifying RIS3 involves setting a "limited number of research and innovation priorities" for future Cohesion Policy. A RIS3 prioritises domains, areas and economic activities where regions or countries have a competitive advantage or have the potential to generate knowledge-driven growth and to bring about the economic transformation needed to tackle the major and most urgent challenges for the society and the natural and built environment. The number and nature of these priorities will vary from region to region. Note that although a first set of priorities may be identified when the RIS3 was designed initially, they can be changed and modified, when new information/developments make it advisable.

The RIS3 identification of innovation priorities in e.g. the water domains makes this a relevant strategic framework for EU's structural funds and other sources of European and national public funding, and may also mobilise private investment, especially if measures are foreseen that are not eligible for the structural funds (e.g. activities outside the EU territory).

Who can apply

Main target audience: Structural Funds Managing Authorities, policy-makers and regional development professionals.


Not applicable.

Thematic focus

Key principles are:
• Smart specialisation is a place-based approach, meaning that it builds on the assets and resources available to regions and Member States and on their specific socio-economic challenges in order to identify unique opportunities for development and growt.
• To have a strategy means to make choices for investment. Member States and regions ought to support only a limited number of well-identified priorities for knowledge-based investments and/or clusters. Specialisation means focusing on competitive strengths and realistic growth potentials supported by a critical mass of activity and entrepreneurial resources.
• Setting priorities should not be a top-down, picking-the-winner process. It should be an inclusive process of stakeholders' involvement centred on "entrepreneurial discovery" that is an interactive process in which market forces and the private sector are discovering and producing information about new activities and the government assesses the outcomes and empowers those actors most capable of realizing this potential.
• The strategy should embrace a broad view of innovation, supporting technological as well as practice-based and social innovation. This would allow each region and Member State to shape policy choices according to their unique socio-economic conditions.
• Finally, a good strategy must include a sound monitoring and evaluation system as well as a revision mechanism for updating the strategic choices.