Higher Education for Smart Specialisation (HESS)

Higher Education for Smart Specialisation (HESS) is a project of the S3 Platform in Seville. It was launched by DG Education and Culture in the European Commission in March 2016 and builds on previous work that the S3 Platform has done on universities.

What is HESS?

The project, which will last an initial twelve months, focuses on how higher education and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can contribute to the successful implementation of Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) in Europe.

The project has two main aims:

  • To help build innovation capacity in Europe’s regions by strengthening the role of HEIs within the ‘quadruple helix’, and
  • To promote the integration of education, research and economic development policies, particularly through advising on the use of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).


The main activity of HESS is a programme of capacity building and action research in selected European regions. Two regions have been selected to pilot the programme: Navarra in Spain, and North East Romania.

The Platform will also be analysing how HEIs are involved in S3 and spending on education by the ESI funds on a more global scale, with surveys, interviews and monitoring Operational Programmes.

Specific objectives

  1. Understand and support HEIs to align their functions of human capital development with S3 priorities,
  2. Analyse how the strategic use of public funds can allow HEIs to better contribute to implementation of S3,
  3. Foster change within selected HEIs to allow them to take on a boundary spanning role in implementing S3,
  4. Facilitate external cooperation between the selected HEIs and other actors in the quadruple helix, and
  5. Co-produce knowledge within a Community of Practice and disseminate this knowledge to a large policy audience.

The Smart Specialisation Hub will be monitoring developments in the HESS project closely and will continue to engage with the S3 Platform to share information and best practice approaches.

If you would like more information on how to get involved with HESS, please contact Andrew Basu-McGowan at universities@smartspecialisationhub.org.

About the author

Kim is the Digital Communications Officer for the Smart Specialisation Hub.

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