The concept of smart specialization as a policy approach for regional development through increased regional productivity and competitiveness in the European context is actively discussed (European Union, 2009; OECD, 2014). Meanwhile, smart specialization has found its way into EU cohesion policy as well as into the European Commission’s Innovation Union flagship programme.
In Eastern Europe, economic growth came to a sudden halt during the financial crisis in 2008/2009, leading to mass unemployment, economic decline and shrinking public spending. The economic downturn in Russia after 2008 was triggered by the outflow of capital and avoided large-scale social consequences.
The paper highlights the main conceptual aspects of the smart specialization approach in the European Union and its implications on future EU Eastern Innovation cooperation with a special focus on EU’s largest Eastern partner Russia.
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