The "United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Seventh Session of Team of Specialists on Innovation and Competitiveness Policies" took place in Geneva on 16 -17 October 2014. The gathering dedicated a special seminar to “Smart Specialization – Strategies for Sustainable Development”. This policy seminar laid the foundations for developing and promoting good practices and policy recommendations for Smart Specialization Strategies, relevant for countries and regions currently facing a variety of development challenges.

The European Union - forerunner in this respect - calls upon its Member Countries to adhere to Smart Specialization Strategies with regard to all actions related to the field of Research and Innovation and funded through resources from the Structural Funds during the financial period 2014-2020.

This approach was emphasised in the keynote address delivered by the Director General for Regional Policy of the European Commission, Walter Deffa. He also underlined that the EU macro-regional strategies were expected to promote an early involvement in smart specialisation practices also of non-EU participating countries (candidates or potential candidates).

Other distinguished speakers from the UNECE area, representatives of national and regional Governments, of international organisations and academia, addressed the topic of “Smart Specialization” from different viewpoints: considering the existing policy gaps, the need for capacity building in policy design and implementation, as well as the opportunities deriving from an increasing international cooperation.

On behalf of the Central European Initiative, Giorgio Rosso Cicogna, Special Advisor to CEI Secretary General, illustrated the adherence of the CEI-PRAISE Programme to the above EU policy approach. CEI PRAISE aims at promoting science, technology transfer and innovation in all the CEI countries. This programme, recently endorsed at the Meeting of CEI Ministers for Science and Technology, was designed for  the development of centres of excellence and advanced research groups at regional level, in the spirit of smart specialisation.
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