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Universities and RIS3: the case of Catalonia and the RIS3CAT Communities




Regional Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3) are aimed at developing nation-al/regional competitive advantages following a vertical prioritisation logic based on the bottom-up identification of a limited set of priorities where regions believe they have potential to obtain a comparative advantage. Priorities are identified and pursued through the interaction of stakeholders across the quadruple helix of government, industry, academia and society at large. This is because entrepreneurial knowledge is most often distributed across a regional system. This cyclical and recursive process of identification and prioritisation is referred to as an Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP). In this context, universities and regions have a unique opportunity to form partnerships, together with the business sector, to maximise the use of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), and particularly the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), hence contributing to the local knowledge-based development. Although universities are placed in a good position to contribute significantly to the process of local development, it is difficult to evaluate whether and how such potential can be untapped (Kempton et al., 2013). This report, which is based on collaboration between the JRC-IPTS and the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), contributes to this debate by exploring universities’ role within RIS3 in the case of Catalonia. The paper first assesses the role of universities in the overall design and implementation of the Catalan RIS3 and EDP, and then goes in depth into one of its key instruments, namely the RIS3CAT Communities. Catalonia’s Smart Specialization Strategy (RIS3CAT) lays the framework under which the Government of Catalonia carries out RDI (Research Development and Innovation) policies in the current programming period (2014-2020) and supports the generation and development of innovative projects aiming to further develop the region. RIS3CAT establishes that the sectors defined as strategic for Catalonia are structured into RIS3CAT Communities. Each community is expected to carry out initiatives to facilitate collaboration among sectorial stakeholders, to improve competitiveness and to generate solutions to society’s changing needs. These communities will be one of the key tools through which universities and other stakeholders in strategic sectors are able to apply for ERDF-funded grants. The case of Catalonia is particularly interesting as the region is home to several public universities displaying remarkable differences in terms of size, scientific specialisation and relationship to the territory. In this respect Catalonia provides the opportunity to test how different types of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can respond to the RIS3.

Suggested Citation

  • Elisabetta Marinelli & Susana Elena Pérez & Josep Alias, 2016. "Universities and RIS3: the case of Catalonia and the RIS3CAT Communities," JRC Working Papers JRC101214, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
  • Handle: RePEc:ipt:iptwpa:jrc101214

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    Cited by:

    1. Ana Fernandez-Zubieta & Irene Ramos-Vielba, 2018. "Research & Innovation in Spain 2016," INGENIO (CSIC-UPV) Working Paper Series 201702, INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), revised 08 Jan 2020.

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    universities; smart specialisation strategies; instruments;

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