Gippsland Smart Specialisation Strategy

Taking a place based approach to innovation and sustainable regional development working with and for the local community

Applying the ‘Smart Specialisation Strategy’ (S3) methodology pioneered in the European Union, this project initiated by the Victorian Latrobe Valley Authority brings together government, business, research and education and civil society in Gippsland to co-design a shared vision for the region’s future prosperity, environmental sustainability and social wellbeing.

Providing a framework for understanding Gippsland’s unique knowledge assets, expertise and strengths, the Gippsland S3 process seeks to leverage existing regional initiatives and identify new connections between stakeholders across the quadruple helix and industry sectors with the potential for innovation, resilience and global competitiveness.

The horticulture sector is the starting point for the mapping of the regional innovation ecosystem and the strengths and capabilities of the local economy and its community. An inclusive process of ‘entrepreneurial discovery’ will generate in-depth analysis and insights to demonstrate the potential of the S3 approach to develop connections within and between industry sectors.

Taking an integrated and systems approach to connect with other sectors such as health, the visitor economy, new energy, logistics and advanced manufacturing, the S3 process will focus on knowledge-based activities and infrastructure that can drive competitive advantages and foster activities which add sustainable value, productivity and employment.

The Region: Gippsland, Victoria

Gippsland is located in the south-east corner of Victoria. In 2016 its population was 274,627, with an average annual growth rate, since 2011, of slightly less than 1 per cent. It is an economic rural region of Victoria and covers an area of 41,556 square kilometers. Known for its primary production such as mining, power generation and farming as well as its tourist destinations, the three most significant employing industries, in 2011, were health care and social assistance (12.2%), retail trade (11.4%) and construction (10.6%).

Agribusiness, new energy (including use of waste products such as biomass, and related technologies), advanced manufacturing, construction and tourism are recognised as potential drivers of regional diversification and growth.

Regional Innovation - Smart Specialisation Strategy

Developing a Smart Specialisation Strategy, using best practice and models from the European Union, will be an iterative process that is comprised of several phases:

  1. Analysis of regional context/potential
    • Map and assessment of existing regional assets and innovation ecosystem
    • Identify regional resources and existing specialities, institutional settings and competitive strength and weaknesses
  2. Governance - Participation and Collaboration
    • Wide engagement of regional stakeholders including policy-makers, business, research and education, community (quadruple helix approach)
    • Collaboration involving demand-side as well as supply side perspectives
  3. Designing a shared vision for the future – setting priorities
    • Through an entrepreneurial discovery process, formulating different scenarios and dialogue on future development paths for the region
    • Selection of limited number of regional priorities for specialisation, with growth and innovation potential and the capacity to build critical mass and be competitive
  4. Action plan for implementation
    • Develop an action plan of projects, platforms and leaders for each priority area
    • Alignment of policy support and frameworks at all levels of government
  5. Monitoring and evaluation
    • Developing a process to support and verify the implementation of the action plan
    • Ensuring the process results is oriented for the longer term, through continuous monitoring and review and adjustment where needed.

Aims and Activities

The project will explore, design and test a Gippsland S3 for the Latrobe Valley Authority, drawing explicitly on the principle of co-design with regional stakeholders. The objective is to:

  • Build on community strengths and capability for the future
  • Leverage collaboration and innovation
  • Grow industry competitiveness, social cohesion and ecological sustainability

The outcomes of the S3 process will identify:

  • Capabilities and enablers that grow future industry competitiveness
  • Skills and competences needed to ensure sustainable job creation and retention
  • Partnerships and networks to support innovation
  • Suitable projects to demonstrate and trial the strategy

An integrated agenda setting out local collaborative projects and infrastructure will be developed that practically translates the agreed new ideas, priorities and opportunities into actions on the ground in the region.

Project Publications

EU Study Mission Report: Innovation Systems in Action

State of the Art Review: A review and analysis of literature regarding Smart Specialisation (S3) in Europe, as well as observations about the application of S3 in other parts of the world, including Australia.

Related Publications

Ward, C. Shortis, E. Goedegeburre, L. & Wilson, B. (2020). Working hard to get energy-transition policy right: learning from Gippsland's Latrobe Valley efforts. The Mandarin.

Boschma, R., Coenen, L., Frenken, K., & Truffer, B. (2017). Towards a theory of regional diversification: combining insights from Evolutionary Economic Geography and Transition Studies. Regional Studies, 51(1), 31-45.

Coenen, L., Asheim, B., Bugge, M. M., & Herstad, S. J. (2017). Advancing regional innovation systems: What does evolutionary economic geography bring to the policy table?Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 35(4), 600-620.

Coenen, L., Moodysson, J., & Martin, H. (2015). Path renewal in old industrial regions: Possibilities and limitations for regional innovation policy. Regional Studies, 49(5), 850-865.

Campbell, S. & Coenen, L. (2017) Transitioning beyond coal: Lessons from the structural renewal of Europe’s old industrial regions.

Project Team

Professor Leo Goedgebuure
LH Martin Institute, University of Melbourne

Professor Bruce Wilson
RMIT Centre for Smart Specialisation

Dr Sebastian Fastenrath
MSSI, University of Melbourne

Dr Emma Shortis
RMIT Centre for Smart Specialisation

Marian Schoen
University of Melbourne

Stephanie Campbell
MSSI, University of Melbourne