10 Insights on ICT Policy-Making
The IT Crowd
Meet MPP students Cosmina Radu (right) and Renate Lammerding (third from left), pictured here with their thesis advisor, Hertie School Professor of E-Governance and Innovation Björn Niehaves (second from left), and their project coordinator Basanta Thapa (left). Their thesis topic is: Smart Specialisation and ICT Policy-Making in the EU. If you are not sure what that means or why it is relevant for you, come along and find out!
Cosmina and Renate are part of the MPP Jubilee Projects, a special feature of the Hertie School's 10 Year Anniversary celebrations. Their practice institution is the European Policy Centre in Brussels. Watch this space for more MPP Jubilee Project profiles!
Smart What?1 / 10
“Smart Specialisation refers to identifying a region's strengths and unique assets and using them to bring the region into the competitive environment of the 21st century. For our thesis, we looked at how ICT (Information and Communication Technology) can be an enabler to facilitate this at the EU regional level, and to what extent the EU regions are exploiting the full potential of ICT. Not only can ICT be an enabler, but it also works in the other direction – we thus also looked at how the Smart Specialisation approach can foster better regional ICT policy-making.”
Why Should I Care?2 / 10
“This is a topic that concerns all of us as it deals with our future. It is about the future of each EU region (the regions that we live in), and the investments that will be made by each region. Prioritisation of certain fields of activity attracts investment which in turn leads to projects and job opportunities, especially for new graduates. In addition, I(C)T is somehow an integrative part of our lives that actually makes our daily lives a lot easier - we just never think of it like this!”
Modus Operandi3 / 10
“We analysed the official EU documents regarding the new approach, as well as the studies written on the topic, before we went into the field to test the European Commission (EC) recommended path to implement the Smart Specialisation approach. We undertook several interviews with EU level officials and country experts in the Directorate-General REGIO (Regional and Urban Policy) and in the Joint Research Centre of the EC in Seville, as well as with the regional government authorities in charge of the Smart Specialisation process in the four regions of interest: Andalusia, Tuscany, Berlin and Wales. We also visited our official practice partner (the European Policy Centre) in Brussels and discussed the economic implications of the Smart Specialisation approach at the EU national and regional level.”
Pictured here are Cosmina and Renate during a field trip to Seville where they interviewed Joint Research Centre country experts: You can see Cosmina (below) interviewing John Edwards (UK and Portugal country expert), and Renate with Diego Lopez (ICT expert and country expert for Spain)
Digitalising the EU4 / 10
“Smart Specialisation is strongly interwoven with the EU discourse with two crucial EU agendas: Europe 2020 (with the goal to make the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy), and the EU Digital Agenda (an ambitious EU agenda set to boost the EU economy by exploiting the full potential of digital technologies).”
Photos: From left, Cosmina and Renate with Dr. Dimitri Corpakis, Head of Unit, Directorate-General for Research & Innovation; Renate with Antonio Garcia Gomez in Brussels, the DG REGIO (Regional and Urban Policy) country expert for Spain
No Coffee For All!5 / 10
“One thing we learned during our research is that being good at many things is not enough anymore – regions should invest in certain areas in which they could reach high levels of excellence and allocate their limited financial resources to projects that help that particular region gain a unique competitive advantage in a certain field. The era of ‘coffee for all’ is gone. Regions now need to learn to say ‘no’ and become great at what they do, and not just good! ICT is being seen as an enabler for this."
We Are All in This Together6 / 10
“We also learned that the design of governance in terms of decision making is now changing – regions understand the need to have a multi-stakeholder governance structure, with all relevant stakeholders involved in the policy formulation and decision making processes. A strong civil society involvement is essential here, especially since these policies affect the future of each and every one of us. We also understood that those regions that fail to see the need for multi-stakeholder governance are the ones that have real problems with this new approach. This is why we decided to suggest a new design for the EU ideal path to help create a smartly specialised regional level.”
Sleeping Giants, Excited Goblins, Hungry Dwarves7 / 10
“There is still a huge difference between regions in terms of their understanding of the Smart Specialisation approach: a lot of sleeping giants need to be awakened and regions need to find the right incentives to wake them up; there are a lot of excited goblins who want to be involved in the process and share their knowledge and experiences with the others – regions need to accommodate them in the policy-formulation and decision making process; and there are also a lot of hungry dwarves who still want to get a piece of the pie - it is these ones that the regional authorities now need to say ‘no’ to.”
Photo: “When in Seville, you should let the city work its magic on you: sit outside on a bench/grass and just enjoy the Sevillian sun. Or just walk through the narrow streets and enjoy every corner of authenticity you encounter,” says Cosmina
Some Discoveries8 / 10
"We discovered that there is no one size that fits all, regardless of how comprehensive an approach might be. The involvement of relevant stakeholders is crucial, and public government authorities are no longer at the centre or ‘nucleum’ of the governance structures. The key to a successful Smart Specialisation strategy is to create a space for openness and trust where all stakeholders can exchange their views, as the Andalusian Government representatives emphasised throughout our interview in Seville."
Photo: Renate takes in some Seville sights between an interview with two regional Andalusian authorities officials: Carmen Sillero Illanes, Head of Division for Strategy and Programmes, Andalusian Ministry of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment (middle), and María Angeles Ruiz Ruiz, Division for Strategy and Programmes, Andalusian Ministry of Economy, Innovation, Science and Employment (right)
Serious Business9 / 10
“We were both looking for a project with a strong practical application, since both of us are quite practice-oriented given our solid work experience. In this regard, a highlight for us was that EU officials were really interested in our work. They not only took time in their busy schedule to answer our questions, but were interested in hearing our views on the Smart Specialisation approach and discuss with us the preliminary findings of the comparison across the four EU regions our research focused on.”
Photo: Meeting in Brussels with Dr. Fabian Zuleeg (Director of the European Policy Centre, right) and economic expert Jan Schneider (left)
What Next?10 / 10
“We would like to continue working in the field of ICT, especially in terms of how ICT can be used in the public sector and in relation with EU Structural funds. We are both working for consultancies which are active in these two fields and we hope to be able to use the knowledge acquired during this applied research project to someday consult the regional level in better implementing such EU-designed approaches.”
Photo: Cosmina and Renate were eager to find out if ICT investment at the EU regional level was all about investsment in basic IT infrastructure and hardware!