The Centre of Excellence in Smart Specialisation and Regional Policy aims to:
- facilitate international cooperation between researchers and policy-makers working on initiatives to support innovative economic and social development in regions
- broaden understanding of the role of EU regional policy, and
- support the implementation of smart specialisation initiatives and the development of regional innovation systems in countries beyond the EU.
The Centre hosted a research roundtable at RMIT University on 27 February 2019 with 17 participants. Lars Coenen (University of Melbourne) offered a provocation on the state of regional research in Australia, drawing on the contrast between his two years in Australia and his extensive experience over two decades in Europe. Reflecting on the provocation, participants then described their current regional research projects, research questions and the principal direction of their work. Following these presentations, participants discussed the possibility of a more coherent approach to regional research and policy and considered the role of the Centre.
This report focuses on the first of the Centre aims: to facilitate international cooperation between researchers and policy-makers. Discussions at the Roundtable raised a number of issues around the coherence of regional research and policy and the relationships between researchers and policymakers. EU regional policy was raised often as a comparator although the discussion centred on cooperation within Australia as a basis for international cooperation. Future events and publications will explore the role and relevance of EU regional policy more explicitly.
With this in mind, the Centre has reflected on the outcomes of the Roundtable using a SWOT framework. The question for the Centre is, how can our program of activities foster a more coherent and cooperative approach to regional research and policy-making?