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Original scientific paper

The Ten Million Euro Question: How Do Innovation Intermediaries Support Smart Specialization?

Matjaz Vidmar orcid id ; Science, Technology and Innovation Studies, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

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page 37-84

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Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) has become a dominant regional economic development field with significant policy traction, in particular within the European Union. However, questions are being raised about its operationalization and a gap has been identified with respect to the role of innovation intermediaries’ interventions in support of the developing regional-sectoral innovation systems. In particular, reasons for diverging policy approaches of “niche specialization” versus “regional advantage” in comparable situations should be examined to illuminate the contextual factors impacting the interpretation of the intermediaries’ mandates. In this paper, the cases of two leading investments in innovation intermediation in the emerging New Space sector are analyzed (Space-SI and Higgs Centre for Innovation) in two EU NUTS level 1 regions (Slovenia and Scotland), which were previously peripheral players in this technological domain. In particular, using a novel innovation intermediation interventions’ classification, this paper identifies the difference between research and development (R&D) and business development (BD) support foci in the two locales, noting some of the contextual factors associated with them and arguing for the long-term balancing of the two approaches.


smart specialization; innovation intermediaries; innovation policy; innovation networks; New Space industry

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