Open Access

Fostering Innovation in Romania. Insights from the Smart Specialization Strategies


Innovation has invariably been a precursor to development and competitiveness, while creating (at least temporary) barriers to differentiate between its leaders and its laggards. Although Europe is ranked the second most innovative region in the world, the EU faces a significant innovation divide, that is attenuating its footprint on the global competitiveness arena and weakening its mission of enhancing the wellbeing of all Europeans. The EU’s goal of the twin (green and digital) transition brings innovation (in its broadest sense) in the spotlight, while the EU Cohesion Policy (aiming to remedy the disparities between countries and regions) heavily relies on the smart specialization strategy as main methodology for reinforcing national and regional innovation eco-systems. In this context, the objectives of the paper are: (1) to explore Romania’s innovation performance (and profile over time) within the EU and identify the strengths and weaknesses of Romania’s innovation ecosystem – based on the analysis of the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS) data; (2) to examine and assess how Romania and its eight development regions address the innovation challenges through their smart specialization strategies 2021(2)-2027 – based on the content analysis of the (national and regional) S3s using QDA Miner v6.0.