Smart Specialisation: Golden Ticket of the Estonian Research, Development and Innovation Policy in 2014–2020?
One of the requirements set by the European Union for the current EU Structural Funds period (2014–2020) is the existence of smart specialisation strategies in the states and regions that use the structural funds. The article discusses smart specialisation as one of the instruments for shaping and managing the research, development and innovation (RDI) policy.
The article lists the main preconditions and obstacles in implementing this concept in Estonia; we will also discuss how these difficulties could be overcome and how a better focussed RDI policy could be shaped and implemented. The article is made up of five subdivisions:
1) Analysis of smart specialisation as a political concept
2) Overview of the specialisation of the Estonian economy and research
3) Short summary of the Estonian RDI policy framework shaped over the past 20 years
4) Management and coordination of smart specialisation in the Estonian RDI system in 2014–2020
5) Recommendations for planning new structural fund measures (April 2014).
The authors find the points of contact between research and economy in Estonia to be rare and sporadic. To improve the situation, the authors name three key fields of smart specialisation in the new RDI draft strategy: firstly, information and communication technology; secondly, health technologies and services; and thirdly, a more efficient use of resources. The key issue is how to integrate research policy and management of higher education policy in the framework of smart specialisation, and what innovations does the smart specialisation process offer to these fields in return.
In the context of smart specialisation, new European Union Structural Fund measures should be managed and focuses determined, with more weight given to the representatives of either the relevant ministries or businesses and associations of the field, which would reduce the probability and the risk of researchers directing the activities of the measures according to their own habitual routines and views.