The 18th Chinese Communist Party (CPC) National Congress proposed the strategy of Innovation-driven Development, stressing scientific and technology innovation is a strategic pillar for boosting social productivity of China. It pointed out that development must be anchored on innovation, and efforts must be made to overcome the “middle-income trap”. At regional level, regions may vary in different domains, what should be noticed is that the “one-size-fit-all” is not the answer when thinking about how to stimulate dynamic innovation capability of regions. Developed along with economic development and industry specialization, smart specialization strategy (S3) has offered a brand new framework for regional science and technology public policy and science and technology strategy. Smart Specialization Strategy is a vivid and alive idea. It has been profoundly propagandized and implemented through European under the umbrella of “European 2020” strategy. Smart specialization aim at stimulating the best of each region. In fact, the core principle of Innovation-driven Development of China also revolve around being “SMART”. This paper introduced the background of Smart Specialization Strategy. The characteristics and development path of S3 has been proposed, the impact of it to the regional innovation growth has been discussed. The nature of S3 includes the notion and logic structure, the implementation research of S3 derive from policy making process and procedure, the evaluation system of S3 contains the evaluation context, indicators and models.To meet the need of regional innovation growth implementation in China, several cases of S3 implementation has been introduced as examples.
The idea of smart specialization follows a logic continuation in the process of deepening, diversifying and specializing of more general innovation strategies, taking into account of regional specifies and inter-regional characteristics, to restart economic growth by leveraging innovation led/knowledge-based investments in regions. From smart specialization to smart specialization strategy, scholars abroad implied that this process can be understood from three aspects. The notion of smart specialization can be described as a process embedded in localized productive structures and capacities whose transformations calls for new resources, new technologies and competences. Turing to the notion of smart specialization strategy, it involves putting in a place a smart specialization process, which can be facilitated thanks to punctual and effective and targeted governmental intervention. Apart from the discussion analyzed above, we can still noticed that there are some experts working on how to define smart specialization strategy from domains selection and characteristics.
The core of S3 can be concluded as entrepreneurial discovery. It is obvious that entrepreneurial discovery is the critical element, the essential phase and the decisive link that bridge and allows the system to reorient and renew, or even restart itself. In other words, entrepreneurial discovery stimulate the process of smart specialization in two aspects. It can be seen as the advent of an innovation, and the deployment and variation of innovative ideas in a domains that generated knowledge about the future economic value of a possible structure change as well. Spillovers together will cause entry of similar. It can be said that entry, or mimic entry is a key ingredient of smart specialization so that agglomeration externalities can be realized. The entrants scale and quality will reflect a potential domain in which a region could become a future leader. Following by next phase will be structural change. What can be observed is that potential success of discoveries and new activities with the purpose to explore and open up new area of innovation will ultimately translate into some structural change.Literature analysis shows that this process will experience from transition in an existing industrial commons to modernization manifested by development of general purpose technology in sectors, and finally arrives at diversification that are likely to connect an existing activity and a new one.
As for the S3 implementation, related research papers mainly focused on designing policy instruments and approaches. Most research results reflected that the implementation of S3 should follow a step-by-step approach to help every region to better position themselves in the GVC age. Simply put S3 as a one-direction innovation strategy well face policy dilemmas, it is of crucial important to understand that S3 involves various innovation stakeholder and entrepreneurs. And it is not only their knowledge and commitment that helps to identify key priority areas, but smart specialization is also pointing cross-border/sector and trans-regional cooperation to achieve more critical potential and related variety. During this process, the importance of monitoring and evaluation within these strategies should be particularly highlighted.
It has been noticed that in order to attract policy attention and to shift the discussion from conceptual issue to empirical practice, establish a statistical measurement is of vitally importance to encourage countries and regions to take part into S3 design. It has been addressed that there are two problems--the discovery process and then the tracking of progress--has to be dealt with. Taking them into account, framework of indicators has been proposed, assessment models has been tested and evaluation principles has been discussed.
Smart Specialization, as a central part of European Union (EU) Cohesion Policy, is widely implemented within Europe and beyond. Since there is no Smart Specialization template or “model” which can be set directly into every region, regions have to work within their own characteristics, and find the domain with competitive advantage. Many countries and regions have already implemented S3 which provide an in-depth analysis of real-life experience in policies and governance mechanisms. Spain, Belgium, Denmark, North Korea, Australia, The United Kingdom and Romania, etc. have been provided with a template either from vertical or horizontal way. In other words, we can observe that the S3 implementation happened on a particular domain, like automotive, photonics agriculture sustainable chemistry and fishing, or on the regional strategy process for smart specialization, like nanotech for health cluster in Finland.
Based on abroad literature review, smart specialization is a place-based policy concept boosting regional economic energy, promoting economic transformation and investment through innovative activities in selected domains. As smart specialization embraces a broad view of innovation that goes beyond research-oriented and technology-based activities, and requires an appropriate government intervention, it can provide a brand new way for the development of innovation-driven growth in China.