Smart specialization in the Danube region, building trust through communities of practice between universities and industries

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Costin Lianu
USH Probusiness

Abstract: The Danube region covers from upstream till downstream regions of 9 EU countries, (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia) and 5 non-EU countries ( Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova).From the social and economic point of view they can be divided into highly developed economies , medium developed and less developed. The macro region of the Danube is one of the EU macro-regions subject to a special strategy developed by European Commission and comprises both EU and non EuU member states. Compared with other macroeconomic regions within EU, this region is facing greater economic disparities which may be consider as an obstacle for cohesion policy and for the successful development of the region. In order to overcome these obstacles the region has to cope with issues like smart specialization, an essential process for the overall competitiveness of any region. But can regions with high economic, social and cultural disparities like this one be successful in smart specialization processes and how?
This paper is bringing some new approaches on this issue, to be further analyzed and considered based on assessments made by stake holders in the region during the process of networking and identification of possibilities to cooperate in different priorities areas of the Danube region. Assessments were made through interviews during the process of exchanging ideas among stake holders form different countries ,and were mostly related to the obstacles in defining projects of multinational dimension of cooperation. The results of this investigations showed that main obstacle in cooperation are base on the cultural dimension of the process and incapacity to manage knowledge. Creating communities of practice for this scope, is a challenging option due to the lack of understanding of this process and its benefits. The research indicates that creating regional model of cooperation between universities and regional industries should be build based on the knowledge and best practice already shared in UIIN network.
Most of the performing companies, clusters, networks engaged in smart specialization processes are, to a great extend Communities of Practice led by universities and businesses. Only this collective approach, common to co-working and inter disciplinary research enables capacity to get dominant position for you business model and for a regional value chain. Our concluding remarks are considering CoP as a necessary tool to be developed, both at national level in low income and low trust regions of the Danube and at macro-regional level between various stake holders engaged in the process of governance of the marco-region. In the new era of knowledge based economy a new competitive identity for the region and a real economic convergence of the member states will be not possible without knowledge management in all strategic objective and priorities areas of the macro-region. CoP culture should therefore introduce to avoid trust divide and a region lagging behind.