It was a great and unique opportunity for me to participate on the course “Designing Smart Specialisation Strategies” and to learn from Dominique Foray, the father of smart specialization idea, and Martin Eichler. A good balance of theory and practice on the course gave me to systematically and deeply understand the nuances of the "Smart Specialisation" concept. This new concept have not fully been understood and adapted in Turkey yet, but some regions have developed their RIS3 according to RIS3 guide. I hope the result of my doctoral thesis will helpTurkish policymakers and public administrators who are in charge of design and development of RIS3 and will support the decision-making mechanism for the selection of potential priorities and the investment of limited regional resources to these areas.
Attending the Smart Specialization Strategy Executive course enabled me to structure my thoughts while working on transforming Cyprus into a clean-tech hub for the region. I am now able to understand what we need to study, what to measure, with whom to talk to and how to engage the Government of Cyprus in this project.
It is a step-by-step and comprehensive course, bringing nicely together simple explanations and strong conceptual backgrounds for S3 (future) practitioners. It builds up from genuine industrial regional stories (spontaneous smart specialisation) and gradually introduces and gives sense to the concept, its main theoretical and practical dimensions and key steps. The course is strong on the structure (learning objectives and lessons learnt are clarified for each module) and contents: conceptual aspects and the nature of evidence to look for (and why) are well detailed and presented. Moreover, it also provides, in a comprehensive manner, the "big picture", which is somehow lost in all our internal detailed documents. Also, the fact that it builds on student-friendly short videos and PowerPoint presentations for every session greatly helps and prevents from boringness.
Other positive aspects relate to the module assignments and peer-assessment systems. If you really follow and accept the deadline/hour system, it works pretty well to learn.
The online course on designing a Smart Specialisation Strategy has two important features to me: it is inspiring and precise.
In Russia (the country I represent) S3 has not been officially introduced yet, though the approach is very broadly discussed and is being given a lot of attention from the researchers and policymakers. Together with my colleagues – Dr. Evgeniy Kutsenko and Aleksey Kindras, I conducted the research, which deals with the analysis of Russian regional innovation strategies within S3 framework. Our hypotheses were that:
(1) some S3 principles are already considered in regional innovation strategies. More or less, regional teams know their advantages, capabilities and assets. They have an open access to S3 Guide and can follow 6 steps to design a strategy that would meet the basic requirements. All these are about localized knowledge, which any region can have independently; but
(2) with the national level missing, a strategy is hardly to become SMART. Even strong innovative regions are unable to design a smart strategy alone due to the lack of outward, global knowledge about national priorities and strategies of other regions and courtiers. Uniform rules for priorities selection, single analytical databases, organizational support, expertise and synchronization are needed. These requirements (NOT the priorities) should be determined at the superior level of governance (national or supra-national).
The video lectures and questions raised in the assignments helped me step me step to double-test these hypotheses. Presentations by Prof. Dominique Foray and Martin Eichler inspired me to think of all possible adaptation of S3 in my country, from theoretical fundamentals to operationalization. So did the home tasks, which added extra reflections on each of the course milestones related to S3 practical use. The materials and handouts were precise and clearly structured to help me with my tasks. And the final assignment was a real pleasure: so creative and effective to think over the whole knowledge I gained!
My impressions of the course would be incomplete without saying that everything was organized perfectly. Larissa and Camille were always online, ready to remind of the forthcoming deadlines or help even with unconventional issues. Many thanks for considering Easter holidays for extra-extension!
My sincerest gratitude to the whole course team: thank you for your time, knowledge, creativity, for being so inspiring, clear and well-organized!
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