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Involvement of policy makers in RIS3 on regional level - case of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg

Written by Béla Kézy


The concept

How to implement it

Step in the RIS process

What can be expected

A quote


The concept

Implementation and development of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) can not be successfully implemented without the contribution of the urban areas of regions. Urban spaces are not only physically concentrated places of people and services, but they are important engines of regional economies. S3 goals set on national or regional level can not be reached without the contribution of the cities of Europe.

The reconceptualisation of innovation strategies towards S3 was a parallel process of rethinking the role of cities in Europe. Urban development has recently captured the attention of politicians and the general public. People have started talking about urban challenges – new terms like livable city, smart city and tactical urbanism have become part of the public dialogue. Once considered a fairly boring subject, urban development has now become a sexy topic. Cities have always played a crucial role in our society, and their importance with the rapid urbanization process grows by the day. Today, over 50 percent of the global population lives in cities (in Europe: 74 percent).


How to implement it

Today an ever increasing number of cities seek new solutions, innovative ways to solve urban problems. They already understood that we have to update the old „software” and launch a completely new version - urban development 2.0, having the following 4 main characteristics:

  1. Focus on the people!
  2. Innovate (and steal ideas)!
  3. Be friendly to the climate!
  4. Embrace digital!

This new approach puts people at the centre – people who are both the „users” and the developers of the city. People should be involved from the first ideas through planning to implementation. This „co-creation of cities” together with the people living there is a basic pillar of S3 as well. Involvement of local stakeholders (public organisations, universities, companies, people) is the way to set (and also implement) strategic goals in all key areas.

In Urban Development 2.0 innovation is a must. Cities need to find new solutions to their problems. They have to find creative ways to overcome their challenges. The city should be handled as a lab for innovation: experiment, start small and even dare to fail sometimes. This environment of cities can undoubtedly contribute to the success of not only of the city but its wider regional environment as well.

Some horizontal aspects should be respected as well, which can have a positive influence on the implementation of S3 strategies as well. Because of the polluting activities in city environments, transforming the city into a liveable and walkable place with less traffic and more green spaces is a major challenge – but one that cannot be ignored. Implementing properly, this transformation process can result in various innovative solutions and products.

Urban development 2.0 embraces and actively uses new technologies – chief among them the endless opportunities offered by information and communication technologies - to improve the city. This is part of the toolkit of urban development but also of regional innovation strategies. It can also facilitate a constant dialogue with all the stakeholders of S3 strategies as well.


Step in the RIS process

Urban development is changing fundamentally. Instead of applying a top-down approach, more and more cities are choosing to work with their inhabitants. Smart Specialisation Strategies are based on a bottom-up approach as well, creating innovation and new products can be better achieved if local stakeholders are creating partnerships to reach these goals.

Therefore, citizen stakeholders can be involved in the following RIS3 steps:

  • Step 1: Analysis of the regional context and potential for innovation
  • Step 2: Governance
  • Step 3: Elaboration of the overall vision for the future of the region


What can be expected

Recent challenges, the increasingly complex environment and the repeated failure of „good-old” standard solutions in urban and regional development have gradually led to the emergence and wider use of new approaches, most important among them being innovation and co-creation. Both of these participative solutions can help to achieve higher, more sustainable growth, better employment opportunities – and most importantly better quality of life in European cities. And if the cities can create more economic opportunities and jobs, the surrounding regions will also benefit.


A quote

"Innovation and co-creation are the keywords for successul renewal of urban and regional strategies of Europe. Smart Specialisation Strategies can not be successfully implemented without the contribution of the urban areas which are the engines of regional innovation and growth. Concepts of Urban Development 2.0 and S3 should be developed and applied hand-in-hand in all territories of Europe."


Béla Kézy

Béla Kézy graduated in 1992 at the Faculty of International Relations of the Budapest University of Economics as economist (MsC). In his first job, he was involved in the preparation of various inward investment projects in Hungary;  later, as a consultant at PRIMOM-Lancashire Condultants, a British-Hungarian joint venture, focused on the preparation of regional development projects. From 1994 he worked as manager of the first regional development agency in Hungary; he was responsible for designing the development strategy for the region and establishing the international network of the agency.

As a founder and senior consultant of MEGAKOM development Consultants and EX ANTE Consulting Ltd. Béla has been working as a development consultant for nearly 15 years, supporting numerous regions and towns in designing their development strategy and implementing specific development projects. His specialities include sustainable urban development, modern public management and urban communication using social media tools.

He is working currently of the county development strategy and operational programme of Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county and as an expert of the URBACT programme.