Laying the foundations for a BSR S3 Ecosystem: New reports out on circular bioeconomy value chains and S3 in BSR

In 2018, a core group of BSR Regional Directors with responsibility for Smart Specialisation (S3) came together to commit to a new momentum for sustainable innovation performance across the Baltic Sea Region. In light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic and the EU’s proposed direction for both recovery from the health crisis and to create more solid foundations for inclusive and sustainable growth, the BSR S3 Directors’ Network[1] is committed to championing the EU’s Green Deal direction, through a concerted, joint effort to address this agenda across the macro-region.

Last year, an EUSBSR PA INNO flagship Interreg BSR project was developed – overseen by the Directors’ Network – to improve capacity of BSR innovation actors for S3 related inter-regional collaboration: Baltic Sea Region Smart Specialisation Ecosystem

The post-2020 S3 agenda offers a significant guiding framework for the BSR to achieve this aim, supporting the uptake and diffusion of underpinning technologies to support the EU’s energy and digital transition, while accelerating the BSR’s industrial transition agenda. As the EU takes bolder steps to embrace a more cohesive innovation ecosystem, so too will the BSR scale up innovation investment efforts to support this ambition.

A number of significant outputs have been generated, through the BSR S3 ecosystem project, over the last year with the aim of building stronger, more resilient and place-based capacity across the BSR for improved innovation collaboration and performance. An outline of these is provided below:


Adopting a Value Chain approach to inter-regional S3 collaboration across the Baltic Sea Region: support manual

This manual has been created to offer practical advice and guidance to regions and their innovation actors / partners across the Baltic Sea. It brings together a range of key evidence sources and analytical reports, gathered throughout the Interreg BSR S3 Ecosystem project. The manual has benefited from feedback and insights from across the EU’s Smart Specialisation (S3) community – policy makers at all levels, stakeholders representing industry, science / academia and citizen groups.

The manual is intended to support regions from the Baltic Sea to build confidence and capacity for designing and implementing approaches and actions to deepen their S3 collaboration efforts with other territories across the macro-region. In turn, this will support regions to build value chain capacity in economic sectors – especially linked to digital and energy transitions - while providing a roadmap for joint innovation investment.

At its core, the manual demonstrates how regional innovation ecosystems can collaborate to apply S3 principles, generating and deepening value chains to address the global challenges and opportunities of the 21st century – including climate change, recovery and resilience from the health pandemic and international competitiveness.

Endorsed by the BSR S3 Directors’ Network, the manual offers methods and guidance to generate new regional, innovation-driven pathways to success.

Support Manual- Adopting a Value Chain approach to inter-regional S3 collaboration across the Baltic Sea Region.pdf


study has now been now completed into a first stage value chain mapping exercise for the Circular Bioeconomy – CBE. This exercise was contracted through expert support (by The European Future Innovation System Centre-EFIS) and has generated a very new evidence base for the macro-region to take forward an interregional innovation agenda with CBE at its core. The study identified strengths in bioenergy which have – until now – remained under the radar. It also identified significant scope to align efforts across the macro-region’s biorefinery infrastructures and to further explore the role of digitalisation as a means to transform and diversify existing CBE-related strengths. Next steps will involve the bringing together of CBE and S3-related specialists / practitioners from across the macro-region, with the aim of further reviewing and targeting specific joint opportunities. The role of industry will be crucial in taking forward this effort, accelerating a strong CBE-related innovation investment agenda for the BSR.

To complement the above value chain mapping exercise, a support manual was designed by EFIS with a core methodology which can be applied to value chain mapping efforts across the BSR, in any domain. This resource aims to boost capacity, commitment and confidence across the macro-region in reviewing both the scope and specific opportunities for BSR-focused interregional innovation collaboration.

A third, key output from the Interreg project has been the development of a Good Practice report  (by the Baltic Institute of Finland) focusing on the role S3 has played across the BSR in: 1) enhancing BSR-focused interregional collaboration; and 2) encouraging regions to upgrade their approaches to the ‘entrepreneurial discovery process’ – i.e. the methods and objectives underpinning how regions interact with their local stakeholders to review and update S3 priorities. The insights and case studies developed in this study aim to support Baltic Sea regions in improving overall capacity across the macro-region for S3 collaboration.

The above resources are generating a new momentum for greater S3 collaboration across the BSR. Directing these efforts towards Green Deal and transition objectives, the macro-region is taking significant strides in preparing the ground for an upgraded approach to S3 – one which can be readily aligned to the EU’s new drive for sustainable growth through an EU innovation ecosystem orientation, strongly underpinned by strategic value chains.


[1] Regions involved: Region Västerbotten (SE), Regional Council of Lapland (FI), Regional Council of Päijät-Häme (FI), Gävleborg (SE), Riga Planning Region (LV), MITA (LI), Regional Council of Southwest Finland (FI), Council of Oulu Region (FI), Regional Council of Häme (FI), Council of Tampere region (FI), Warmia-Mazury Marshall Office (PL), Brandenburg Economic Development Agency (DE), Hamburg (DE).