Smart Specialisation: Opportunities and Challenges for Regional Innovation Policy

Book  review: Foray (2014)

Smart Specialisation: Opportunities and Challenges for Regional Innovation Policy


Based on Foray (2014) smart specialisation refers to the capacity of a region to focus on core competences by identifying opportunities for agglomeration of resources. For instance, an alpine tourism region itself is not a smart specialisation strategy. If that region develops new projects, for instance using information and communication technology (ICT) applications targeted at altering the operation process of tourism services or enriching the tourism supply, this region could convert to a “smart specialisation region”.

Smart specialisation idea

Foray (2014) also highlights that the smart specialisation idea outlines a diversification process through the regional focus of resources and abilities in certain domains which represent pathways for efficient structure transformations. Smart specialisation strategy puts procedures in place whereby a dynamic of a speciality development, linked to the already existing structures, can be eased due to targeted governmental intervention to help in a preferential way.


Smart specialisation and smart specialisation strategies must not be the same action. In the past, many successful smart specialisation processes happened spontaneously without policy due to the discovery and coordination capacities of private agents. Foray (2014) also presents smart specialisation cases that did not build on the policy agenda as a primary reason for smart specialisation.


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Foray, D. (2014). Smart specialisation: opportunities and challenges for regional innovation policy (Vol. 79). London/New York: Routledge.

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