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Baltic Sea Region-wide Research-Business Cooperation: What Benefits For Sparsely Populated Areas and Smart Specialisation?

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Ninetta Chaniotou, Zane Šime


The article elaborates on the findings of smart specialisation in view of how on-going thinking on this Europe-wide innovation experiment should be advanced on a qualitatively new level, especially taking into consideration the role of rural areas and their specific economic growth needs. The example of Kainuu offers an insight into how a sparsely populated area in north east Finland can benefit from EU-funded transnational cooperation programmes, complemented with tailored support from the European Structural and Investment Funds, in its aspirations to tap into the unexplored innovation potential of the regional economy and enhance its links to other parts of Europe. Kainuu testifies to the readiness of regional authorities to adopt state of the art development approaches and tools, often requiring diversification from traditional solutions. Meanwhile, Kainuu’s experience and continued engagement in EU-funded transnational and interregional projects suggests that project concepts and actions need to be sufficiently strategic and well-defined in view of making the argument for the introduction of innovative tools in all regions. Among the suggestions for enhanced quality of transnational collaboration, the article argues for joint performance indicators and continuous oversight of the potential geographical compartmentalisation of smart specialisation theoretical thinking.

Ninetta Chaniotou is Director of the International Cooperation Projects at Kainuun Etu Oy.Zane Šime is Communication & Research Coordinator at the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat. The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Responsibility for the information and views expressed therein lies entirely with the author, including any possible mistakes. The authors would like to extend special thanks to the initial reviewer of this article – Dr Uwe Sassenberg, Baltic TRAM Project Manager.

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