Smart Specialisation Strategies to Build an Innovation Model for Alp Clusters

The development and implementation of Smart Specialisation Strategies (“S3”) are promoted by the European Commission in all regions participating in the Structural Funding programmes 2014 to 2020, and are considered as a prerequisite for the granting of funding for research and innovation from the Structural Funds. During this period, the EU is supporting the positive development of economic growth and the labour market, as well as the reduction of economic and social disparities, with more than 450 billion euros (including national co-financing). The respective "Smart Specialisation" strategies of the programme regions serve for governments to distribute the funds made available by the EU over the long term in a smart and coordinated manner.

The eleven regions, which are covered by the Interreg project "S3-4AlpClusters" ("Smart Specialisation Strategies to Build an Innovation Model for Alp Clusters") - 14 facilities in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland, where the project is also headed, are involved - have all developed a specialisation strategy, but are in various stages of operative implementation. The S3-4AlpClusters project, launched in November 2016, pursues an innovative approach and has identified clusters as a promising starting point for better implementation of specialisation strategies in the Alpine region.

In order to improve the conditions for innovation and growth in the Alpine regions involved in the project, a joint action plan for the cluster structures is being developed in a transregional approach, as well as a joint analysis of the existing S3s. The project aims to strengthen the impact of regional economic policy on corporate structures, and is divided into three phases: While Phase 1 includes an inventory and the development of new approaches to the best possible implementation of the strategies for intelligent specialisation for regional decision-makers, a cluster-wide innovation model will be developed in Phase 2. This will then be tested using pilot clusters in Phase 3.

Project Overview

Project aims and fields of work

The aim of the project is to develop a transregional innovation model for the clusters of the Alpine area, after analysing the existing cluster structures of the project regions and the degree of implementation of their "Smart Specialisation" strategy. The synchronised model will on the one hand consist of the best practice experiences of the regions and, on the other hand, new services developed in the project.
The following models and initiatives are being developed in the project to accelerate innovation processes in the cluster structures of the Alpine regions and to increase the impact of regional strategies for intelligent specialisation:

  • Improving the framework conditions for innovation processes induced by the cluster structures and their participating small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Initiating the exchange of knowledge between regional decision-makers in the development of strategies for the intelligent specialisation of the various project regions
  • Measures to simplify innovation processes and the formation of critical masses through cluster initiatives in regions with strong technological orientation and high complementarity
  • Initiation of transregional cluster-to-cluster collaborations with players of the so-called "quadruple helix": authorities, universities, cultural institutions and companies

Target group

The results of the project are relevant to the following stakeholders:

  • Political decision-makers in the field of S3 from national and regional governments
  • Cluster structures and their companies (in particular SMEs)
  • Public and private stakeholders in the field of economic development and regional development
  • Universities and universities of applied sciences

BayFOR as a partner

BayFOR is a fully-fledged partner in the project and is mainly involved in work packages with a research focus. In addition, it assumes tasks in project management and is responsible for communicating results and progress in the project.

BayFOR is therefore actively involved in the three phases of the project, in which firstly the policy is supported with better implementation of the S3, and secondly a cluster-wide innovation model is defined, and thirdly new services are tested in previously selected pilot clusters to facilitate transregional collaboration.

Funding period

The project is funded by the European Union within the framework of the Alpine Space program, with a grant of 1.93 million euros (the total budget for the project is 2.52 million euros), for a term of 30 months (11/2016 - 04/2019).


In the S3-4AlpClusters consortium, a total of 14 partners from Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland work together under the coordination of "Innosquare Clusters" at the School of Engineering and Architecture in Fribourg (Switzerland).

INNOSQUARE CLUSTERS at the School of Engineering and Architecture in Fribourg (CH)

Project Partners:
Business Upper Austria – OÖ Wirtschaftsagentur GmbH (AT)
Cluster-Agentur Baden-Wuerttemberg hosted by VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH (DE)
Veneto Region – Research Innovation and Energy Department (IT)
Poly4EmI hosted by Anteja ECG d.o.o (SL)
Innovation and Technology Transfer Salzburg GmbH (AT)
University of Franche-Comté (FR)
PROPLAST - Consortium for the Plastic Culture Promotion (IT)
Cluster Technologies for Smart Cities & Communities Lombardy (IT)
Autonomous Province of Trento (IT)
Trentino Innovation Hub (IT)
Lombardy Region Government (IT)
Bavarian Research Alliance (DE)
Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy / Smart Specialisation Coordination Unit (SL)

Further information


Prof. Dr. Jacques Bersier

Prof. Dr. Jacques Bersier
Deputy Director & R&D Director HEIA-FR
School of Engineering and Architecture Fribourg/ Innosquare Clusters
S3-4AlpClusters Coordination
Boulevard de Pérolles 80
1700 Fribourg
E-mail: jacques.bersier@hefr.ch

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