LARS (Learning among Regions on Smart Specialisation) is a new project that attempts to help the public sector in leading smart specialisation processes in their regions and to connect innovation networks across regions. University of Vaasa and its department of Regional studies is one the project partners.
LARS project helps to find solutions tackling the fragmentation of regional systems of innovation looking for entrepreneurial discoveries within such topics as blue growth, bio and circular economy, advanced production methods and technologies for energy efficiency
The global value chains and increased sophistication of production constitute a large challenge for regional development efforts. There is a need to learn and up-grade the level of policy intervention. The point of departure for this in the LARS project is that regional innovation systems are different but may learn from each other thru a process of transnational learning and exploit the complementarities. It has also been suggested that collaboration between smart specialized regions could form the base for Macro regional strategies.
The project materializes in 6 steps: 1) Mapping of strategies in order to select the final intervention areas; 2) Triple-helix gap analysis with the purpose of finding deficiencies and also good cases of innovation network functioning; 3) Matching partners in transfer network based on the “good” and “bad” practices; 4) Learning on the transfers, essentially an innovation context analysis; 5) Piloting new activities in the regions with the purpose of improving the innovation networks; 6) Communicating the findings with a view on the wider implications of the project.
The consortium behind LARS consists of partners from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Finland, constituting mostly of authorities with a substantial experience as implementers of EU-regional policies but also of research institutions with research and advisory experience in the field. Regional Council of Ostrobothnia is coordinating the project.
LARS is a three-year flagship project of Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme. The University of Vaasa's part of this EU funding is 204 750 euros. The Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme supports integrated territorial development and cooperation for a more innovative, better accessible and sustainable Baltic Sea region. Partners from countries around the Baltic Sea work together in transnational projects on common key challenges and opportunities.
Seija Virkkala, Professor of Regional Studies, University of Vaasa, tel. + 029 449 8335, seija.virkkala(at)uva.fi