The papers reflect on the evolution of innovation policy over the last 25 years, from the Regional Technology Plans in 1994 to the current Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (2014-2020). At large, the general opinion is that a lot has been achieved with the RTP, RITTS, RIS and S3 programmes, but we still have a long way to go.
Over time, the nature of the innovation and research policy has shifted from linear supply-driven research to mission-oriented research, and from an infrastructure-supporting regional policy to a much broader approach. Answers to questions in society and cohesive solutions are being given more attention, and the process is shifting to focus on an inclusive, triple helix and quadruple helix-oriented approach.
This is still very much in the development phase, and ideally needs an entrepreneurial discovery process that has by no means been successfully carried out everywhere. This has a number of underlying causes, not least of which the fact that the quadruple helix takes many different forms, depending on the given regional potential, circumstances, commitment and past experiences.
A great deal is expected from the European Commission, but at the same time many on the other side are wary of one-size-fits-all approaches.The cross-border dimension is still underrepresented in the policy, although the attention given to this aspect is growing.
Implementing changes and improvements that are truly supported by all stakeholders generally involves more time than planned. At the end of the day the human factor counts most.