Skip to content

From Projects to Transformations: Why Do Only Some Countries and Regions Advance? The Case of the Slovenian S4

open-access


Peter Wostner
Keywords: Smart Specialisation, EU Funds, Regional Development, ESIF Programme, RIS3, EFSI, ERDF, S3 Platform


The paper scrutinises the Smart Specialisation approach conceptually as well as its practical application in the case of Slovenian Smart Specialisation Strategy, the S4. It argues that Smart Specialisation still tends to be too narrowly applied and that its potential, on the EU level, is not yet fully exploited. The paper investigates where the roots of competitiveness in the modern world lie and argues that investment is a necessary but not a sufficient condition and that it is structural transformation that is at the heart of advancement. The Slovenian S4’s major contribution is not only in the setting of national priorities as regards innovation. What matters even more is that S4 is fundamentally transforming the way stakeholders on the ground interact with each other, creating value networks, but it is also transforming the way policy-making is done within the government. It is shifting the perception of the government as a source of financing to a facilitator of change. The paper demonstrates how fundamental is the difference between the financing of projects and the financing of policies. They are the flipside of the same coin as investment and structural transformation, with the former being a necessary but not sufficient condition for advancement of non-frontier regions and it is here that policies like Cohesion policy with their ex-ante conditionalities really make a difference. Finally, structural transformation is very hard to achieve, which is why putting external pressure for change but also a guarantee of longer term commitment through ex-ante conditionality, i.e. outside pressure, is critical.

Peter Wostner works at the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy in Slovenia, as the head of Smart Specialisation Coordinating Unit. The content and conclusions of this article do not necessarily represent the views of the employer and are a responsibility of the author.The author would like to thank Laura Polverari and Rona Michie from the European Policies Research Centre, University of Strathclyde, and Aleš Gnamuš from the European Commission's S3 Platform (DGJRC) for valuable comments to the earlier version of the paper as indeed to the whole Joint Research Centre as well as to the European Commission, DG Regio, for advice and support provided throughout the S4 preparation and implementation.

Share


Lx-Number Search

A
|
(e.g. A | 000123 | 01)

Export Citation