Smart specialization for building up a regional innovation agenda: the case of San Luis Potosí, Mexico


  • Jose Luis Solleiro-Rebolledo Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
  • Moisés Braulio García-Martínez University Center for Business Technology Support, Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí
  • Rosario Castañón-Ibarra Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)
  • Laura Elena Martínez-Salvador Institute of Social Research, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)



Regional innovation system, Mexico, Smart specialization, Innovation


The state of San Luis Potosí (SLP) is divided into four regions: “Altiplano, Centro, Huasteca and Media”. A large socioeconomic inequality is perceived among the regions, this is especially observed when comparing Centro with the other regions, mainly because Centro region shows greater economic dynamism and has a great amount of companies, educational institutions and research centers, which contributes to lower its socioeconomic lag. In order to reduce the social inequality and the economic development gap of SLP, a project for the construction of innovation agendas with a regional focus was formulated applying RIS3 methodology.

Therefore, this article has as its main objective, to present and analyze the results of this project, through the identification of regional economic potential and their areas of smart specialization, as well as international technological trends in those areas. As an important component, a governance mechanism was organized in the four regions used to build consensus and legitimate the RIS3 process. In the framework of triple- helix participatory workshops, a portfolio of priority innovation projects was defined. This article offers an analysis of favorable factors and obstacles faced during the process; a series of recommendations for the promotion of regional innovation agendas (RIA) plus brief conclusions.


Abas, Muhamad. 2019. “Public Policy and Governance: Theory and Practice.” In Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance, edited by A. Farazmand, 1-7. Switzerland: Springer Nature.

Barca, Fabrizio, McCann Phillip, and Andrés Rodríguez -Pose. 2012. “The case for regional development intervention: place‐based versus place‐neutral approaches.” Journal of Regional Science 52:134–152.

Barroeta Belén, Javier Gómez Prieto, Jonatan Paton, Manuel Palazuelos, and Marcelino Cabrera Giráldez. 2017. Innovation and regional Specialisation in Latin America. Luxembourg: European Commission.

Cassiolato, José Eduardo, Marcelo Pessoa de Matos, and Helena Lastres. 2013. “Innovation systems and development.” In International Development: Ideas, Experience, and Prospects, edited by Bruce Currie-Alder, Ravi Kanbur, David M. Malone, and Rohinton Medhora. London: Oxford Scholarship.

Checkland, Peter. 1999. Systems Thinking, Systems Practice: Includes a 30 Year Retrospective. UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, CONACYT. 2015. “Agenda Estatal de Innovación de San Luis Potosí.” Last modified October 21, 2019.

Cooke, Philip. 1998. “´Regional innovation systems-an evolutionary approach.” In Regional Innovation Systems. The Role of Governance in a Globalized World, edited by Philip Cooke, Martin Heidenreich, and Hans-Joachim Braczyk. London: UCL Press.

Cooke, Philip, Mikel Gomez, and Goio Uranga. 1997. “Regional innovation systems: institutional and organisational dimensions.” Research Policy 26:475–491.

Del Castilli, Jaime, and Jonatan Paton. 2013. “Las estrategias regionales de innovación y especialización inteligente (RIS3), nueva etapa de la política regional Europea en el apoyo a la innovación empresarial.” Journal of Public Policies and Territories 4:17–23.

Dutrenít, Gabriela. 2009. “Introduction.” In Sistemas regionales de innovación: un espacio para el desarrollo de las PyMES. El caso de la industria de maquinados industriales, coordinated by Gabriela Dutrenít. Mexico: Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana.

Flanagan, Kieron, Elvira Uyarra, and Manuel Laranja. 2011. “Reconceptualising the ‘policy mix’ for innovation.” Research Policy 40(5): 702–713.

Foray, Dominique, John Goddard, Xabier Goenaga, Mikel Landabaso, Philip McCann, Kevin Morgan, Claire Nauwelaers, and Raquel Ortega-Argilés. 2012. “Guide to Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specializations (RIS 3).” Regional Policy European Commission. Last modified April 12, 2019.

Foster, John. 1993. “Economics and the Self-Organization Approach: Alfred Marshall Revisited.” The Economic Journal 103 (419): 975-991.

Foster, John. 2005. “From Simplistic to Complex Systems in Economics.” Cambridge Journal of Economics 29 (6): 873-892.

Goméz Prieto, Javier, and Patrice Dos Santos. 2017. Smart Specialisation in EU and Chile, challenges and opportunities. Smart Specialisation. Luxembourg: European Commission.

Government of San Luis Potosí. 2012. “Plan Estatal de Desarrollo 2009-2015.” Last modified June 8, 2019.

Graham John, Amos Bruce, and Tim Plumptre. 2003. Principles for good governance in the 21st century. Ottawa: Institute of Governance.

Hanf, Kenneth, and Jansen Alf-Inge. 1998. Governance and Environment in Western Europe. Politics, Policy and Administration. London: Routledge.

Höglund, Linda, and Gabriel Linton. 2017. “Smart specialization in regional innovation systems: a quadruple helix perspective.” R&D Management 48 (1): 60-72.

Instituto de Investigaciones Legislativas, IIL. 2016. “Ley de planeación del estado y municipios de San Luis Potosí.” Last modified October 21, 2019.>

Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, INEGI. 2018. “Producto Interno Bruto y Cuentas Nacionales.” Last modified October 21, 2019.

Kroll, H. 2015. “Efforts to implement smart specialization in practice – leading unlike horses to water.” European Planning Studies 23 (10): 2079-2098.

Lewin, Kurt. 1958. “Group Decision and Social Change.” In Readings in Social Psychology, edited by E.E Maccoby, T.M Newcomb and E.L Hartley. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Lundvall, Bengt-Ake. 1992. National Systems of Innovation. Towards a Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning. London: Printer Pub.

McCann, Philip, and Raquel Ortega. 2016. “Smart Specialisation: Insights from the EU Experience and Implications for Other Economies.” Journal of Regional Research 36:279 - 293.

Mejía, Olivia, José Solleiro, Moisés García, and Rosario Castañón. 2019. Capacidades productivas y de innovación en las 4 regiones de San Luis Potosí. México: UASLP.

Morchain, Daniel, Dian Spear, Gina Ziervogel, Hillary Masundire, Margaret Angula, Julia Davies, and Salma Hegga. 2019. “Building transformative capacity in southern Africa: Surfacing knowledge and challenging structures through participatory vulnerability and risk assessments.” Action Research 17(1): 19 41.

Morisson, Arnault, and Mathieu Doussineau. 2019. “Regional innovation governance and place-based policies: design, implementation and implications.” Regional Studies, Regional Science 6 (1): 101-116.

Perry Beth, and Tim May. 2007. “Governance, Science Policy and Regions: An Introduction.” Regional Studies 41 (8): 1039-1050.

ProMéxico. 2017. “Mapa de exportaciones de México. Exportaciones de San Luis Potosí.” Last modified August 17, 2019. http: // mem.

Rózga, Ryszard, and José Solleiro. 2017. Sistemas regionales de innovación como instrumento de la política pública de innovación. Mexico: UAM - Juan Pablos Editor.

Safarzyska, Karolina, and Jeroen Van den Bergh. 2010. "Evolutionary models in economics: a survey of methods and building blocks." Journal of Evolutionary Economics 20 (3): 329-373.

Silverberg, Gerald, Giovanni Dosi, and Luigi Orsenigo. 1988. “Innovation, Diversity and Diffusion: a Self-Organization Model.” Economic Journal 98 (393): 1032-1054.

Sistema de Información Agroalimentario y Pesquero, SIAP. 2018. “Atlas Agroalimentario 2012-2018.” Last modified August 17, 2019.

Veugeleurs, Reinhilde. 2015. Do we have the right kind of diversity in innovation policies among EU Member States?. Vienna:WWWforEurope.