Journal of Business & Economic Policy

ISSN 2375-0766 (Print), 2375-0774 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jbep

Smart Specialization in Europe: Agrotech Cluster Development in Sweden and Poland
David Bartlett, Tomasz Mroczkowski, Elżbieta Zysk

As the most ambitious regional development in the history of the European Union, RIS3 (Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialization) has stimulated a large body of theoretical and empirical research. This article advances the scholarly literature through a comparative analysis of RIS3 programs in two EU regions: Sydsvierge in southern Sweden and Warmińsko-Mazurskie in northeastern Poland. The former is one of Europe’s most innovative regions, while the latter ranks as a laggard in regional development. We focus on innovation in food and agriculture, an industry prioritized in the RIS3 programs of both of the target regions. Using a three-pronged cluster mapping model (industry specialization, size of cluster, knowledge complexity) and data extracted from the European Observatory for Clusters and Industrial Change, we examine smart specialization paths across five segments of the ag/food industries of Sydsvierge and Warmińsko-Mazurskie (core, upstream, downstream, related, unrelated). By comparing and contrasting the results of RIS3 programs of two regions occupying polar positions in European development, we explore the factors promoting and hindering smart specialization in food and agriculture. The article provides important insights on key questions in the smart specialization literature: the risks/benefits of related versus unrelated diversification; the role of technological complexity in regional development; and the challenges of innovation and competitiveness in developed and underdeveloped regions.

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