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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Interregional partnerships

The European Commission supports interregional partnerships through different tools, including the Smart Specialisation Platform for industrial modernisation. The platform is a tool to combine smart specialisation and interregional cooperation to boost industrial competitiveness and innovation. All EU regions with their clusters and industrial partners are encouraged to take part in this initiative and benefit from the services that will be developed on the platform. 


The key objective of the Smart Specialisation Platform for industrial modernisation (S3P-Industrial Modernisation) is to coordinate the efforts of all EU regions committed to working together to develop a pipeline of investment projects in smart specialisation areas through interregional cooperation.

The platform will be co-developed by regions with the active participation of industry, and by related business organisations like cluster organisations, which will have a key role to better connect regional authorities with industrial interests and needs.

Structure and support activities

The work done through the Smart Specialisation Platform will be organised under a number of thematic areas (such as on advanced manufacturing, circular economy, service innovation etc.) proposed by EU regions. These areas may include high-performing manufacturing, Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), digital transformation/industry 4.0, and advanced materials, as well as service innovation concepts for space data services, creative industries and tourism.

A thematic area can be proposed and led by an EU region or several EU regions, the so-called 'leading region(s)'. Other EU regions with shared interests can join as well. All EU regions together should mobilise with cluster organisations and other business networks in their industry to join the work, discuss with peers and develop investment projects.

Different actions will be streamlined to support the activities on the platform. As a first step, inter-cluster cooperation that can be useful for fostering industrial partnerships on the platform is encouraged. To this end, a call for the expression of interest for establishing European Strategic Cluster Partnerships was launched in May 2016 and remained open until 31 March 2017.

Innovation in the EU: growth strategies

The Commission highlighted the need for a long-term strategy for technology, economics and finance. The position paper on globalisation underlined this vision. Through regulations and investment plans, projects linked to EU priorities are initiated. Authorities at all levels are called on to develop smart specialisation strategies in research and innovation. The Commission encouraged regions and EU countries to identify specific competitive advantages. Subsequently, research and innovation investment areas were prioritised under the cohesion policy 2014-2020.

To build on this approach and raise the innovation potential of the regions, the EU wants to facilitate cooperation on all levels - from local to European.

To tackle the challenges Europe should address to thrive in a globalised world, a communication and a staff working document were published. The four main challenges are to

  • boost the innovation and competitiveness potential of European regions as a basis for a sustainable growth model
  • increase interregional cooperation - a key element in globalised economies
  • strengthen the focus on less developed and industrial transition regions
  • improve joint work across EU policies and programmes supporting innovation

A range of pilot measures will help address the challenges and develop a broader view of economic development and growth. The ultimate goal is for Europe's regions to build on smart specialisation for more technological change, digitisation decarbonisation and industrial modernisation.






Industrial competitiveness and innovation depends on how fast and efficiently industry is able to take up new technologies and exploit new business models for developing innovative products, services and high-performing manufacturing processes. EU regions, through their local ecosystems and financial resources, can play a key role in supporting industrial modernisation in the coming years.

All EU countries and EU regions have already developed and started implementing their smart specialisation strategies. Together with industry, they will over the next years invest in the priority areas of their research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3).

Going a step further, many regions see extra opportunities for engaging in interregional cooperation along shared smart specialisation priorities to learn from each other, find missing competences, and allow their industries to develop joint investment projects. This complementary approach will be facilitated at EU level by streamlining different existing support activities related to the area of industrial modernisation.

The platform was launched at the Smart Regions Conference in Brussels on 2 June 2016.

More information

The Smart Specialisation Platform

Interregional Investment under the Technical Assistance Facility for Industrial Modernisation and Investment