Digital meets smart: towards a technology-enhanced approach to Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) development

Picture of the cover of the report by Prof. Luca Mora et al.

As climate change continues to threaten the globe, many organisations strive to become more sustainable and look to advances in technology to support them on this mission. City councils are no exception; becoming green is prioritised by many.

The Urban Innovation Policy Lab – Unity – nested at Edinburgh Napier University and led by Professor Luca Mora, exists to research digital and smart solutions that support sustainability in urban environments, helping cities all over the world create a greener future for the inhabitants.

The lab’s most recent publication, Digital meets smart: towards a technology-enhanced approach to Smart Specialisation Strategy (S3) development, is a special issue written by Prof. Luca Mora and Prof. Mark Deakin from ENU, in collaboration with Prof. Raquel Ortega-Argilés from the University of Birmingham and Anastasia Panori PhD from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

The group achieved a threefold objective with the special issue.

  1. They shed light on fundamental methodological limitations that affect S3 development and provided a comprehensive account of the digital support tools currently available.
  2. Additionally, they offered a knowledge base for producing novel digital applications that align with the overlooked needs of S3 orchestrators.
  3. Lastly, the group complemented the practical input with theoretical advancements in regional innovation studies by addressing intellectual questions and policy issues of pivotal importance for the S3 debate.

The researchers created a list of four key take away messages to inform future research on policy formulation:

  1. Some of the most critical yet overlooked thematic areas within the current theoretical and practical landscape include knowledge and skills development, data access, and scale-up.
  2. Whether Europe will succeed in assembling a technology-enhanced approach to S3 policymaking strongly depends on the capability of regional innovation scholars to capture the needs of S3 developers and translate such demands into appropriate technological solutions.
  3. This translation process will require interdisciplinary efforts linking social sciences to engineering and technology subjects. (The special issue contributes to showing that it can be easy for high priority needs to be overlooked. Therefore, we need stronger research-practice linkages.)
  4. If improperly planned, pushing for digital transformations in current policymaking practices may cause more problems than solutions: practical input and theoretical advancements are also needed in the framework of capacity-building for region-specific institutional settings.

To read the full article and learn more about the researchers, please click here.

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