European smart specialization for Ukrainian regional development: path from creation to implementation

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The focus of the research is to develop recommendations of smart specialization (SS) for Ukrainian policymakers using European approaches. The authors revealed that the main SS projects are presented in such sectors as agri-food, industrial modernization and energy. More than 12 EU countries were the plot for conducted analysis of SS, as a result of which the level of activity of each country was determined. The creation of consortiums, including SMEs, associations, universities and other participants, disclosed the successful way of SS realization. The structure of SME’s innovative potential in Ukraine was identified underlining their main characteristic features like types of innovations and innovative activity, differentiation according to enterprise size, their regional distribution. The authors explored lack of innovations on regional and national level and significant territorial disparities, which could be eliminated through policy implementation of regional SS. The existing legislative norms for possibility of SS implementation in Ukraine were analyzed due to correspondence with the EU ones. The analysis provides the opportunity to consider them only as general framework documents without any action plans and sectoral prioritization at all. The weak points of these law documents are emphasized. As a result of research, the authors developed recommendations presented by direct action plan for Ukrainian policymakers, which include such activities as underlining key priorities (especially ICT applicability in every SS project) and their correspondence with the EU ones; eliminating regional imbalances by focusing on innovation development and reorientation of some regions according to SS priorities; respecting regional existing capacities; providing organizational mechanism for cooperation of stakeholders and financial mechanism for SS support through the EU structural funds.

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    • Figure 1. Model of regional SS strategy development
    • Figure 2. Funding by ESIFs in areas connected to SS
    • Figure 3. Ukrainian enterprises by types of innovation activities, %
    • Figure 4. Innovation activity of Ukrainian enterprises for 2012–2016, units
    • Figure 5. Innovative activity of small enterprises for 2012–2016
    • Figure 6. Regional distribution of business innovative activity and rate of every region in 2014–2016
    • Table A1. Examples of SS projects in the EU countries