Region of Central Macedonia, the current state of the art

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Region of Central Macedonia, the current state of the art

In the following months the Region of Central Macedonia (RCM) will carry out a transformative experiment in the framework of TeRRItoria. Its main priority is to boost the application of a gender equality approach within the Research & Innovation (R&I) ecosystems. The experiment will be based on the adoption of Territorial RRI measures in order to trigger an institutional change within the organisations of the regional stakeholders involved.

Some concrete actions and strategies are required to develop a Gender Equality Plan (GEP), comprised of the following ‘core’ steps:
– Conducting impact assessments/audits of procedures and practices (resembling self assessments and/or peer assessments) to identify gender bias in the institutions that will participate in the GEPs;
– Identifying innovative strategies to address and correct gender bias;
– Setting targets and proposing monitoring progress via indicators.

More about the Region of Central Macedonia

The RCM has a population of 1,875,000 inhabitants, representing 17 percent of the country’s total population and produces 17 percent of national GDP (the second highest contribution after the 37,7% of the region of Attica)1. It is the largest Greek region in size and the second largest in population. The regional capital is Thessaloniki.

The mission of the Region is promotion of the financial development, competitiveness, and extroversion of its businesses, protection of the environment and public health, protection and promotion of cultural heritage, and the improvement of the living standards of the two million people that live in it. Its vision is to be the friendliest region in Greece for Investments, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.
The Region’s strategy focuses on:

  • supporting the competitiveness, extroversion, and internationalisation of business efforts and linking the Region’s innovative efforts with global markets;
  • creating an effective innovation ecosystem;
  • producing new knowledge in the most dynamic sectors of the economy;
  • promoting networking of organizations, development of synergies and effective exploitation of the knowledge generated by the regional and the international economy;
  • maintaining and strengthening human capital in the Region.

Relevant ongoing projects

Online S3 (

As part of the Online S3 project, an e-policy platform has been developed which, augmented with a toolbox of applications and online services, is able to assist national and regional authorities in the EU to elaborate their Smart Specialisation agenda. One of the key elements of Online S3’s success is effective community engagement. This element is addressed by informing people about potential benefits from participating actively in region-wide, technology-based innovation processes, engaging a large community of actors, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and incorporating early knowledge-sharing processes, as well as leveraging a host of alternative crowdsourcing tools and so maximizing the overall benefits that can emerge from participatory innovation.

Sectoral structure

Main productive sectors in the region

The main productive sectors in the Region, according to the Online S3 report for the year 2011 (the most recent data available), are: tobacco (5.11%), farming and animal husbandry (2.46%), apparel (1.97%) and agricultural products (1.38%). Manufacturing of food products is a sector that has a large number of working people and a high percentage of GDP and exports in the Region; its scientific knowledge can also boost other correlated sectors such as manufacturing of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and machinery.

Innovation system

According to the EU’s Regional Innovation Scoreboard, the Region of Central Macedonia is a moderate innovator whose innovation performance has, over time, increased by 21.3%. Innovators, Linkages, and Employment Impacts are the strongest innovation dimensions.

Main Strategies

At the regional level, the RIS3 Strategy of the RCM may offer a basis for defining vision and objectives. Central Macedonia should aspire to and promote an open and innovative region, characterised by:

  • Excellence and extroversion: the pursuit of excellence and targeting exports of products and services are the cornerstones of any initiative and investment;
  • Exploitation of comparative advantage though specialisation: moving from horizontal initiatives and investments towards initiatives and investments that support selected technologies and developmental options;
  • Exploiting the capabilities of human resources and the high concentration of research and technology in academic and research centres.

Priority areas specialisation

Priorities – Sectors of High Regional Interest

In Region of Central Macedonia, 4 regional specialisation sectors have been identified which add decisively to the Gross Added Value of the region, employing a significant number of workers, maintaining critical mass and exhibiting intrinsic dynamics and extroversion. The sectors are designated “Champion Sectors” of the Region and are as follows:

  • Agri-Food;
  • Construction Materials;
  • Textile & Clothing;
  • Tourism.

In addition, another 4 sectors have been identified, all technological and with a particularly decisive role in the taking full advantage of the regional economy in order to increase innovation, competitiveness, and extroversion. The technological sectors act as catalysts for absorbing innovation, identified as “Horizontal Support Sectors” and are the following:

  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT);
  • Energy Technologies;
  • Environmental Technologies;
  • Transport and Logistics Technologies.

SWOT Analysis of the Region


A geographical location with strategic importance in South-East Europe, in combination with the region’s participation in the field of entrepreneurship in South-Eastern Europe

Considerable primary sector, responsible for extracting and collecting natural resources

Strong presence in the food and drinks sector, as well as in the clothing, textile, and building material industries

World-famous tourist destinations and links between tourism and other fields of development, such as the agri-food sector, local commerce, culture, religion, folk traditions, etc

Important infrastructure; transportation networks of transnational importance and energy networks

Educational and cultural infrastructure for offering educational services to students from all across South-Eastern Europe

A dynamic network of enterprises carrying out knowledge-intensive activities based in Thessaloniki, accompanied by suitable facilities for their proper functioning such as incubators and science parks

A large range of active scientific fields

Excellent scientific teams in the region, in accordance with the European criteria

Considerably high performance, relative to the region’s size, in competitive, European works of research and technological development

Several new enterprises in the field of ICT involving themselves in new fields

A city, Thessaloniki, which functions as a junction for science throughout the region, with influence on neighbouring regions as well

A Thessaloniki metropolitan area which can offer a suitable environment for open innovation, thanks to its demographics


Unequal development of regional units with Thessaloniki being seen as the regional centre of economic development

Signs of stagnation in the basic indices of productivity and specialisation for the region’s processing industries

No intense employment and a low-to- medium technological intensity

An uncompetitive regional economy at European level in according to the indices of technological readiness and labour market efficiency of the Regional Competitiveness Index

When considering the added value of tourism, the region’s performance in tourism can still be considered low, despite its workforce

Insufficient brand recognition in the agricultural sector

Low performance in technology transfer relative to European standards

Lack of clear scientific policies for scientific research and technology transfer

Limited scientific cooperation with institutions of universal prestige

Fewer investments in the field of ICT compared to other geographical regions

No significant presence in the field of telecommunications

Lack of broadband infrastructure in relation to goals set to be achieved by 2020


Positive actions towards the development of tourism in Greece

Constant search for new, specialised forms of tourism and corresponding products

The Common Agricultural Policy is motivated to contribute to agricultural development

Tendencies towards the increase of exports in various markets, mainly the ones of South-Eastern Europe

Potential to reshape the textile and clothing industries by integrating the latest technological innovations

Building materials conformant with environmental and energy standards, a field which generally stands out in South-Eastern Europe

Citizens in domestic and industrial spaces are sympathetic towards energy-saving measures

Development of a green market and reinforcement of an environmental-friendly conscience

Increases in young student mobility in South-Eastern Europe

Promotion of the concept of “Rail Dardanelles”, according to which Thessaloniki is the main junction for the proposed network of ports and commercial railways in Northern Greece

The new legislative framework for reforms in academic institutions, regarding research policies, technology transfer, and contribution to regional development

Research teams applying the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3), based on the needs of the regional economy

The field of ICT seems to be resisting the current crisis and can therefore better invest in R&I

Small and non-specialised ICT markets in neighboring regions


Difficult economic environment, instability in the financial sector, weak demand and weak private consumption at a national level

Further reduction of subsidies (and of income) in the primary sector due to the new Common Agricultural Policy

Negative environment for promoting entrepreneurship due to excessive legislation, bureaucracy, taxation, and lack of access to cheap funding

The macro-economic environment puts at risk the state funding of research (new positions for researchers, infrastructures, and equipment)

Withdrawal of the workforce, as a reaction to the high rates of unemployment among young people in the region

Opportunities for differentiation are limited due to the competition with other European regions having the same or similar characteristics

Funding R&I actions require public funding and an increase in private investments

Competition from neighbouring countries regarding the development of outsourced ICT applications

More To Explore

The way forward

The way forward The third session of the series RRI institutional changes for improved regional governance took place on January 25th, and featured discussions and ideas by the key speakers and panellists on The Way Forward for Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) at the regional level. 113 participants had the chance

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