Received: 2020-06-18  |  Accepted: 2020-11-09  |  Published: 2020-12-30


Reinforcing comparative monitoring of Smart Specialisation performance across European regions: transnational RIS3 observatory model as a tool for Smart Specialisation governance


Smart Specialisation is dedicated to be a key driving force for entrepreneurial discovery and innovation in the European innovation policy paradigm in line with the European Strategy 2020 and the funding period 2014-2020. At the current stage, all EU NUTS-2 regions are monitoring their individually developed Regional Innovation Strategies on Smart Specialisation (RIS3) including monitoring systems that are needed to adjust upcoming future RIS3 strategies in the new funding periods. Despite the thematic topicality, the procedure of RIS3 evaluation and monitoring lacks a sound supra-regional approach when it comes to RIS3 implementation performance governance and institutional arrangements across all European regions. In fact, the blurring of RIS3 monitoring can be traced back to the policy nature that monitoring systems are set up, implemented and evaluated on individual regional and or national basis including a set of regionally tailored regional and national indicators. With regard to the policy challenges and research gaps of developing, and, later, using a joint macro-regional systemic institutional approach towards RIS3 implementation and monitoring, this paper provides a conceptual model for RIS3 performance, evaluation and monitoring governance based on case study analysis, best practices from RIS3 research and policy stakeholders’ interviews. It is intended to serve as a comprehensive and comparative governance model on regional, national and European level, which fosters the institutional thickness and institutional multi-level horizontal cooperation among institutions involved in RIS3 performance and monitoring implementation. Within the empirical narrative, 10 NUTS-2 regions within the INTERREG Central Europe Programme area and in the frame of the “SMART_watch” project were subject to the analysis pertaining to their strategy design, priority axes and monitoring indicators. As a result, the so-called Transnational RIS3 Observatory Model was designed, which yields conceptual linkages to theoretical concepts using cluster theories as well as builds upon practical policy-driven approaches mushrooming in the innovation policy paradigm of the European Union. Furthermore, recommendations to foster the RIS3 policy implementation in the upcoming funding period are introduced in line with the setup of the observatory structure and its institutional embeddedness.


smart specialisation, RIS3 evaluation and monitoring, RIS3 observatory, transnational model, regional development, RIS3 governance

JEL classifications

O21 , O32 , O36 , P25 , P35






This research was supported by the EU project “SMART_watch”, part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the INTERREG Central Europe Programme 2014 – 2020. The project is dedicated to foster the cooperation between the Regional Innovation Strategies on Smart Specialisation (RIS3) monitoring and the actual needs of the implementing regional stakeholders.

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Meyer, Christopher
University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design, Wismar, Germany
Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia
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Journal title

Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues





Issue date

December 2020

Issue DOI


ISSN 2345-0282 (online)


VšĮ Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Center, Vilnius, Lithuania


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