Tartu’s smart specialisation strategy

NL6_6Tartu and South-Estonia smart specialisation strategy: Regional implementation Plan based on Brainport Development
Tartu Science Park is a regional development institution in Tartu, South-Estonia, and a partner in the CCIC project, which focuses on increasing innovation in the public sector. During the project’s lifetime, Tartu visited a lot of regions and cities that had something new to offer. One of those cities was Eindhoven, Brainport Development to be exact.The idea and concept for a smart specialisation strategy for South-Estonia is based on the aforementioned city and institution.
When Eindhoven had their crash in the early 90s, people were leaving the region because they didn’t have jobs. Municipalities came together with companies and started to rebuild the region from the bottom up, starting from the core needs of companies, focusing on their strengths and finding interdisciplinary options for advanced sectors to work together. South-Estonia is in desperate need for a bottom-up triple helix based innovation system so that national policies can actually target the needs of our companies.

Tartu and South-Estonia’s smart specialisation strategy is about increasing the competitiveness of the region by focusing on sectors which have the highest numbers in value added, growth potential and where investments into R&D can create synergies between companies and public sector in the region. The strategy is an opportunity for South-Estonia to develop sound analyses of the opportunities and challenges in an increasingly globalised world, with a view to designing triple helix cooperation.

During the first part of the regional implementation plan (RIP) of Brainport Development programme, the focus was on finding out the strong sectors that are worth focusing on, looking for cross-overs in ICT and electronics, health and biotech, wood industry (wooden house construction) and healthy food industry.

The second part of the work focused on creating a strategy which can enhance the competitiveness of the region through finding these cross-over opportunities in science and technology. With the CCIC project, Tartu has increased collaboration between local and regional authorities, private sector, R&D centres etc. Tartu created a stakeholders’ group which includes the most important decision makers: mayor, deputy mayors, deans of universities, county governor, South-Estonia marketing institutions, and cluster representatives.

The next step for Tartu is to create action plans for focal sectors that include pilot projects. But the biggest challenge of all is to find a way for the South-Estonia strategy to be implemented in the national innovation system and to adopt, use and influence national policy measures according to their needs. Innovation in the public sector and implementation of Brainport good practice with some added tweaks is going to help South-Estonia and its companies to be more competitive on an international scale. (The strong backbone of RIS and the bond between its stakeholders will guarantee the competitiveness of regional companies).