The Smart specialisation approach combines industrial, educational and innovation policies for countries/regions to identify and select a limited number of priority areas for knowledge-based investments, focusing on their strengths and comparative advantages. Smart specialisation processes need to be based on a strong partnership between businesses, public entities and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), essential for success. The role of HEIs in smart specialisation strategies (RIS3) is a current challenge that the EC aims to tackle, in order to maximise the impact that HEIs may have in the design and implementation of successful RIS3. Thinking Smart sets out an innovative objective: support HEIs in contributing to and benefiting from Smart Specialisation strategies.


Thinking Smart aims to address an issue that is of European interest through an innovative approach. Its specific objectives are:

Identify successful and innovative ways in which HEIs have contributed to RIS3 in their strategic direction; Take part in a collaborative process to identify gaps and challenges regarding the role of HEIs for regional growth; Co-design a toolkit to support HEIs in improving their contribution to RIS3, ensuring it benefits their overall strategy; Develop a policy brief and actively engage policy-makers at regional, national and international levels; Create a support network to facilitate continuous best-practice exchange between all actors involved in RIS3.



The Thinking Smart project is divided in seven Workpackages: