Smart specialization and innovation management in the maritime industry of Ukraine

Project “Integration of approaches of smart specialization and cluster development in Ukraine”

Maritime Cluster of Ukraine (MCU) joined the ClusteRISE movement for clustering of regions, which has been going on since August under the auspices of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Association of Industrial Automation Enterprises of Ukraine (APPAU). Institute of Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (IEP) proposed APPAU to unite both initiatives at the first stages of introducing the regional development project based on smart specialization. Leaders decided to start with the mini-project “Integration of smart specialization approaches and cluster development in Ukraine” (the working title is “S3-C”). Traditionally, shipbuilding and shipping industries are characterized by close integration of production by knowledge-intensive research organizations and educational institutions, so participation in this program is essential for the UMC.

The smart specialization implementation in the regions of Ukraine has been going on for several years, and there is a range of state and scientific institutions involved in this process. Since the beginning of 2013, only a few regions have been able to identify key areas of specialization and move to the entrepreneurial discovery process through transnational cooperation and mutual learning of S3 by supporting activities for the EU’s neighbors. Ukrainian realities show the immaturity of management mechanisms and the lack of systematic coordination between key stakeholders.



What is hidden under the concept of “SMART specialization of the region”?

The basis of SMART specialization’s concept lies in identifying the unique characteristics and assets of the region. It aims to implement new governance methods through cooperation between regional and national authorities responsible for decision-making on developing and implementing innovation policy and relevant stakeholdersinvolved in such a process (entrepreneurs, universities, research institutions, civil society ).

This concept was developed to provide a scientific basis for expert advice at the national and regional levels of the European Union by a team of analysts and policymakers to implement research and innovation for SMART specialization in the European Union in 2008. EU practice has shown that the main advantages of applying the SMART specialization approach are:

– promoting inclusive and sustainable development, as the goal of SMART specialization correlates with the achievement of 17 Global Goals of Humanity. It is a driver of regional economic growth. It promotes local communities, highlights regional competitive advantages, enhances local opportunities, and accelerates innovative transformations by coordinating science-business and society.

An expansion of SMART specialization in the EU regions is a form of regional cooperation that encourages innovation partnerships and clusters to join forces, create an innovative ecosystem, and modernize the European industry. Besides, the European Commission has acknowledged the importance of unlocking the potential of digitalization’s technological challenges at the state level, which required an accelerating of innovation evolvement for less developed industrial regions. Thus, the EU has launched a pan-European innovation campaign due to SMART specialization, which involves almost all European countries.

Given that SMART specialization, strategies unite government organizations, local authorities, scientific research institutions, businesses, associations, public institutions, and SMEs at the regional level. SMART approaches allow the development of effective measures of social problems of the region solution, which is a prerequisite of economic growth and a source of job creation.

An essential element of development under this approach is creating a favorable environment for industrial research, technology transfer, and innovation in the production system. That means that an organization of the regional innovation ecosystem is an environment that increases the region’s competitiveness.

Such an example is the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy, orDelft, the Netherlands. The Melardalen Väster region of Sweden, and precisely an initiative of Robot Dalen (Västerås, Sweden, Robot Dalen)(Västerås, Sweden, Robot Dalen), has consolidated manufacturers, scientific institutions, and the public sector providing the commercial success of new technology solutions for industry, services, and healthcare. Solutions are developed based on real needs, and end-users are involved in the entire product development process. As a result, the final product is based on market needs. Cross-cutting (from the national to the local levels) SMART specialization strategies have been developed and implemented by our neighbors in Poland and Romania.

Closer to the development of the Maritime Cluster of Ukraine and integration into global value chains, which is necessary for our enterprises and society as a whole. Focusing on an accessible resource is a possible competitiveness strategy, but not a long-term one. This advantage of the region could be easily defeated in the market or leveled by other aspects. Needs are evolving, and demand is changing, and it is becoming more challenging to astonish a partner or investor every day. In turn, significant added value will remain in Ukraine for further ecosystem development and competitiveness if the resource availability is topped up with identified unique characteristics and assets of the regions to strengthen the offer with innovative solutions, using science, business, government, and the public consolidation.

It should be noted that most successful cases in Europe started in the early 2000s and became part of a systemic pan-European program in 2008. So it is not correct to expect quick victories, but the path must be continued or started in some cases.

In our project, we propose to consolidate stakeholders around the following goals:

  1. Define the target model of cooperation;
  2. Determine the format of the regional level team that should manage the S3 project;
  3. Agree on initiatives for 2021.

The first step in this direction will be to revise the smart specialization methodology, the state of cooperation in the innovative development of all aspects of the concept (science, business, government, public). The concept was proposed for discussion in the process of strategy development at the regional authorities level. We need to identify the completed activities results. Based on results, we need to create a collaborative and new cooperation model, a relevant mechanism in our circumstances, and a team of innovation in the maritime industry management.

Our partners from APPAU have prepared information about the myths of scientists and obstacles on the route to smart specialization to prepare for the first webinar, which will take place on November 9.We invite industry experts for open discussion and cooperation to develop relevant cases and joint action plans for innovation management in Ukraine’s maritime industry.

Registration is here..

The involvement of new enterprises and experts in the Cluster contributes to more accurate consideration of the industry’s potential and needs in the development of program documents. Therefore, we are optimistic about the ClusteRISE movement and the “Integration” project on regional clustering and are confident that it will form our shared benefit.

Adapted from APPAU and Industry4Ukriane


Ukrainian Maritime Cluster © 2021