Smart specialisation in energy, driving societal challenges

With smart specialisation strategies in the implementation phase, clean energy is one of the main priorities for most EU regions. This workshop showcased how different sectors of society are taking an active role in energy action. These contributions are addressed by the smart specialisation strategies at the regional level through a bottom-up participative process.


Main Conclusions

The implementation of Smart Specialisation priorities on energy are engaging the participation of all sectors of society: private, public, civil society, research and academy. Thanks to this bottom-up approach, EU regions are analysing their strenghts and potentials heading towards energy transition and innovation with the collective vision and support of regional players. The Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy supports regions by helping them in their innovation process and encouraging an inclusive participatory approach (Valcarcel, EP). Flexibility and adaptability characterise the tendency of future energy systems where innovation is fundamental; Smart Specialisation enables this transition process (Constantinescu, DG ENER). The holistic approach of the Smart Specialisation is allowing great results in terms of interregional cooperation where EU regions are identifying complementarities and synergies (Miladinova, DG REGIO).

Currently, more than 66 EU regions participate in 5 interregional partneships of smart specialisation on the fields of bioenergy, smart-grids, marine renewable energy, sustainable buildings and solar. Other S3 partnerships are being created (e.g. heating & cooling, geothermal and fuel cells). The S3PEnergy platform welcomes manifestation of interest from stakeholders to take part in these cooperation exercises (Hervas, DG JRC). 

Concerning the contributions of quadruple helix actors on smart specialisation and energy, research centres and academic institutions are consolidating networks of scientific and technological agents and companies aiming at reinforcing regional competitiveness worldwide. These knowledge and technologic actors also help to develop business activities in new emerging areas of energy, for instance in smart grids and marine renewables in Basque Country (Pedrosa, Tecnalia). Companies represent a driver of economic growth. The case of smart specialisation in solar energy constitutes a niche of businesses opportunities between enterprises of regions in at least 9 EU member states (Bial, Estela Solar).  Civil society organisations should be more engaged in the smart specialisation processess as they can contribute with the engagement of a critical mass of citizens in innovation action. ONGs for example are potential multipliers of participatory and inclusive approach, support communication activities with society and provide ownership in concrete energy priorities such as sustainable buildings (Boromisa, Door). Finally, the role of regional authorities in implementation of energy priorities is fundamental as they have the capacity to facilitate integration of several initiatives and funding as well as to mobilise territorial actors. As an example, Brittany region participates in several initiatives (European Enterprises Network, Interreg projects and S3PEnergy) which together contribute to elaborate a systemic and integrated reponse to territorial innovation opportunities (Terpant, Brittany Region).    


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Vicepresident of the European Parliament
European Parliament
Principal Adviser to the Director General for Energy in the European Commission
European Commission, DG ENER
Head of Unit for Smart and Sustainable Growth
European Commission, DG REGIO
Deputy Head of Unit, Territorial Development
European Commission, Joint Research Centre
Director of the Division of Energy and Environment en TECNALIA Research & Innovation
Secretary General
European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA)
Member of Managament Board at Society for Sustainable Development Design DOOR
Society for Sustainable Development Design DOOR
Director digital and energy transition sectors
Brittany Innovation Agency