Science

Smart specialization

Updated: 2019 01 02

In its active preparation for the EU structural assistance period 2014-2020, in 2012 Lithuania began the process known as smart specialisation. The need for EU Member States to formulate smart specialisation strategies was expressed by the European Commission with a view to ensuring more efficient use of funds and resources intended for the development of the research, experimental development (R&D) and innovation system. Thus smart specialisation has become one of the EU’s rules for Member States to benefit from funds earmarked for innovation.

Smart specialisation seeks to identify the areas the development of which has the greatest influence on the growth of the country’s economy and competitiveness, taking into consideration the available and forecasted scientific and business potential, major national and global challenges and trends, and to prioritise those areas, also in terms of funding.

The strategic objective of smart specialisation is to increase, through R&D and innovation (R&D&I) solutions, the impact of high added value, knowledge and high-skilled labour intensive economic activities on the country’s GDP and structural economic changes.

Objectives:

1. Developing innovative technologies, products, processes and/or methods and, through the use of these results of activity, responding to global trends and long-term national challenges;

2. Improving competitiveness and possibilities of Lithuanian entities to position themselves on global markets.

The targeted outcome in implementing R&D and innovation priorities is new adjusted technology, processes and products developed on the basis of R&D and innovation. The purpose of this concept was to exclude a sectoral approach, which is dividing and does not encourage cooperation and results orientation. The underlying rationale was that priorities had to define specific targeted outcomes (development or application of technology and processes), the implementation of which would facilitate pooling of efforts of a great many of science and business centres with a high level of expertise.

Considering its unique characteristics and available potential, each EU country or region drew up its own smart specialisation strategies setting up R&D and innovation development priorities and development plans.

Lithuania’s smart specialisation strategy evolved through joint efforts of a number of institutions, the main actors being the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Economy and the Research and Higher Education Monitoring and Analysis Centre (MOSTA) authorised thereby. By engaging international independent experts, MOSTA carried out a detailed analysis of the country’s research, higher education, business potential and possibilities of cooperation in relevant areas, major national and global challenges, future trends, new knowledge, technology and products with the potential to have the most significant impact on the growth of domestic and global economy. In order to ensure that the smart specialisation strategy was based on common accord, the process involved all stakeholders, including scientists, entrepreneurs and representatives of the public sector, who made their inputs into wide-scale surveys and some 50 expert discussions. This process:

· identified general priority areas in terms of R&D and innovation development and their specific priorities;

· proposed measures required for their implementation and timing of the measures, specific technologies and products to be developed in implementing individual priorities;

· proposed mechanisms for implementation, monitoring and impact assessment of the smart specialisation process.

Research performed and reports produced in the process organised by MOSTA are available here.

As a result of MOSTA analyses, expert discussions and surveys, also joint work of research, business and government representatives, the following legislation was prepared as part of the smart specialisation strategy:

1. Priority R&D&I development areas approved by the resolution of the Government:

1.1 Energy and sustainable environment;

1.2 Inclusive and creative society;

1.3 Agro-innovation and food technologies;

1.4 New production processes, materials and technologies;

1.5 Health technologies and biotechnologies;

1.6 Transport, logistics and information and communication technologies (ICT).

The priority R&D and innovation area represents the area of economy, where the country has sufficient science and business potential to respond to global or national challenges encountered in this area and to take advantage of opportunities that could bring about significant positive change.

2. Programme for the implementation of smart specialisation priority areas and their priorities approved by the resolution of the Government, which lays down the key implementation principles of the smart specialisation process and distinguishes the following R&D and innovation priorities under each area.

R&D and innovation priority means a technology, product, process, method or their group, which is feasible to be developed and suited to public needs (including market uptake) by making use of the R&D&I, business and other potential existing in the country.

3. Twenty action plans for the implementation of R&D innovation priorities approved by orders of the Minister of Education and Science and Minister of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania, which provide for measures necessary for the implementation of the priorities, their timing, particular technologies and products to be developed in implementing individual priorities:

3.1 action plans for priorities of the priority area “Transport, logistics and information and communication technologies”:

· Smart transport systems and information and communication technologies;

· Technologies/models for the management of international transport corridors and integration of modes of transport;

· Advanced electronic contents, content development technologies and information interoperability;

· Information and communication technology infrastructure, cloud computing solutions and services.

3.2 action plans for priorities of the priority area “New production processes, materials and technologies”:

· Photonic and laser technologies;

· Functional materials and coatings;

· Structural and composite materials;

· Flexible technological systems for product creation and production.

3.3 action plans for priorities of the priority area “Energy and sustainable environment”:

· Smart systems for energy efficiency, diagnostic, monitoring, metering and management of generators, grids and customers;

· Energy and fuel production using biomass/waste and waste treatment, storage and disposal;

· Technology for the development and use of smart low-energy buildings – digital construction;

· Solar energy equipment and technologies for its use for the production of electricity, heat and cooling.

3.4 action plans for priorities of the priority area “Health technologies and biotechnologies”:

· Molecular technologies for medicine and biopharmaceutics;

· Advanced applied technologies for individual and public health;

· Advanced medical engineering for early diagnostics and treatment.

3.5 action plans for priorities of the priority area “Agro-innovation and food technologies”:

· Sustainable agro-biological resources and safer food;

· Functional food;

· Innovative development, improvement and processing of biological raw materials (biorefinery).

3.6 action plans for priorities of the priority area “Inclusive and creative society”:

· Modern self-development technologies and processes;

· Technologies and processes for the development and implementation of breakthrough innovations.

4. Procedure for Monitoring the Development of the Priority Areas of Research, (Socio-Cultural) Development and Innovation (Smart Specialisation) and the Implementation of their Priorities and for Promoting Collaboration between Businesses and Science and Study Institutions approved by the order of Minister of Education and Science and Minister of Economy of the Republic of Lithuania defines the functions of MOSTA and MITA in the context of smart specialisation and the principles of monitoring and assessment of this process.

5. The General Action Plan for the Implementation of the Smart Specialisation Programme in the Area of Governance of the Ministry of Education and Science was approved by the order of the Minister of Education and Science with a view to contributing to the implementation of the smart specialisation strategy. This Action Plan projects all measures for the higher education and R&D policy administered by the Ministry of Education and Science, which contribute, whether directly or indirectly, to the implementation of the smart specialisation strategy, and substantiates already known specific projects that are planned to be implemented on the basis of those measures.

 

Funding

With regard to smart specialisation, the Commission recommends using the widest possible range of funding sources. Actions plans approved by joint orders of the Ministry of Education and Science and Ministry of Economy for the implementation of each R&D&I priority set out measures of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Economy directly or indirectly contributing to the implementation of the relevant R&D&I priority:

1. Some funding under those measures is intended for specific R&D&I priorities, for which amounts are earmarked and accordingly indicated in the action plans (e.g. experts have estimated and proposed the amounts that may be required for joint scientific and business projects, fundamental research projects, financing of doctoral studies, etc., depending on the particular R&D&I priority);

2. Some measures will be used to implement all R&D&I priorities, i.e. R&D&I priorities will be competing for the funding, which will be granted to those demonstrating the greatest potential (e.g. infrastructural development and activities of competence centres, upgrading of open access centre hardware, etc.);

3. The third part of measures is designated for the entire higher education and R&D system; their implementation will be indirectly conducive to realisation of the R&D&I priorities, as part of the higher education, R&D and innovation system (e.g. “student baskets”, development of the R&D and higher education infrastructure, post-doctoral internship, development of the computer network of research and higher education institutions LITNET, database subscription and other measures needed for the entire system, which will also have influence on the implementation of smart specialisation, as part of the system).

The total amount allocated for smart specialisation is not exhaustive or precisely set anywhere, as this is not the main objective. The implementation of this strategy focuses on the achievement of specific results that will be brought about through the use of a wide range of various direct and indirect measures, including those which have not been planned for smart specialisation.

 

Coordination

1. At the strategic level, the R&D and innovation policy is coordinated by the Strategic Council for R&D and Innovation, which is formed by the Government, presided over by the Prime Minister and consisting of ministries interested in the R&D&I development, institutions implementing R&D&I measures, research and higher education institutions, business and representatives of other social partners. The Council functions as a government commission and regularly convenes to deal with strategic R&D&I issues. The Council represents a top-level platform for discussions covering matters concerning R&D&I development, such as smart specialisation, prospects of integrated research, higher education and business centres (valleys), creation of innovation-friendly environment, etc.

2. The Group for the Coordination of Implementation of the Research and Development and Innovation Priorities, which is formed by the order of the Minister of Education and Science and Minister of Economy, chaired in turn by the Vice-Minister of Science and Education and the Vice-Minister of Economy and consisting of representatives of the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, institutions implementing R&D&I measures, expert bodies, monitoring authorities, research and higher education institutions and business, deals with working issues in connection with the implementation of smart specialisation processes in Lithuania.

3. The Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Economy play the key role as institutions responsible for the smart specialisation process, and the measures administered by them will serve as a basis for the implementation of the R&D&I priorities.

4. In this process MOSTA is responsible for continuous analysis, monitoring, interim and final impact assessment of the implementation of smart specialisation. Based on the results of MOSTA activities, discussions will be held with regard to solutions proposed for the revision, abandoning of certain measures, formulation of new measures, abandoning of R&D&I priorities or steering their implementation in a different direction, setting up of new priorities, etc.

5. The role of the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) in the smart specialisation process is connected with the search of common interests of science and business, so-called facilitation, encompassing intensive cooperation with representatives of science and business in the context of specific R&D&I priority axes or priorities and assistance to both parties in finding project partners, partners for other joint activities, etc.

In May 2015 Lithuania’s Smart Specialisation Strategy was officially approved by the European Commission.