The smart specialisation concept, originally developed by D. Foray (EPFL), P. David (Stanford) and B. Hall (Berkeley) within the framework of a European Commission Expert Group, involves both a general innovation policy concept and a method designed to operationalie this concept. This method enables regions to design a regional innovation policy to encourage the emergence and growth of innovation microsystems in the selected sectors.

It means identifying the unique characteristics and assets of each region and thus highlighting each region’s true competitive advantages and unique potential. But Smart Specialisation requires a substantial amount of knowledge in order to be designed and implemented successfully.

This concept and its concrete developments have had an immense impact in Europe and then beyond after the European Council’s decision to adopt smart specialisation as an essential principle of European regional policies.

Although the smart specialisation approach and method are now well known in Europe (at least the general principles), they still remain an unknown quantity elsewhere. And yet this approach has huge potential - especially in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia - to assist policymakers, experts and public agencies in structuring their policy and development programme.