The current RIS3 for Värmland builds on a process of strengthening relationships between Region Värmland and Karlstad University that began developing following an OECD review in 2005/2006. In the period leading up to the development of the RIS3 (2010-2014) this process was formalised through a Collaboration Agreement between the two parties. The main tangible product of this agreement was an initiative to create 10 new professorships within the University in areas that were deemed relevant by the Region and the 4 cluster organisations mentioned above. The aim of this was to help develop strong research environments in the University while also increasing potential for knowledge co-production with other regional actors. So while this initiative preceded the RIS3 in Värmland, it is a crucial part of a longer process of developing smart specialisation in the region.
The 10 Professors programme was a clear example of investment in strategic alignment between the University and the Region, which was focused on key areas that would subsequently help form the RIS3 priorities. Eight of the ten professorships were in areas where the University had existing research competences: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (in Energy and Environment); User-driven Packaging Development and Service Orientation within Industry (in the Service Research Center); Production Systems and Material Science (in the Material and Design Center), and Testing of IT Systems and Cloud Computing (in Computer Science). Each of these eight Professorships also links directly to one or more of the 4 cluster organisations in the region (see collaboration section below). The other two Professorships were in cross-cutting areas (Regional Development and School Development). The potential of the new Professor in Regional Development to contribute to innovation strategy in the region was recognised as part of the programme. This chair is based in a dedicated research centre for regional development in the University - initially CERUT (that was also supported through the 2010-2014 Cooperation Agreement), but since 2015 the new cross-disciplinary Centre for Regional Studies (CRS).
The 10 Professors Programme, while not being a part of the formal governance structures of Värmland, helped to develop the Triple Helix structure in the region that supports their smart specialisation strategy. The 10 Professors programme was a main focus of the collaboration agreement between Region Värmland and Karlstad University that was in effect during the period 2010 to 2014. The programme also, through Region Värmland, linked into the dominant private sector industries of the region through the involvement of the 4 cluster organisations: Compare (representing the ICT industry), Steel and Engineering, the Paper Province (for the pulp and paper industry), and Packaging Arena (supporting packaging solutions across different industries). These organisations already had strong relationships with the universities, but the concentration of the majority of the new professorships in related areas reinforced the tightly-coupled, coherent nature of the regional innovation system.