MAPS-LED “Multidisciplinary Approach to Plan Smart Specialization Strategies for Local Economic Development” is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie RISE research project funded by the European Union’s HORIZON 2020 program for Research and Innovation ( The RISE Program aims to strengthen research partnerships concerning innovative issues by the exchange of researchers among EU and Non-EU countries.


Research & Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) aims at promoting international collaboration through research and innovation staff exchanges, and sharing of knowledge and ideas from research to market (and vice versa) for the advancement of research and the development of innovation. The scheme aims to foster a shared culture of research and innovation that welcomes and rewards creativity and entrepreneurship and helps to turn creative ideas into innovative services, processes or products.


The International Partnership has established the following research network:

1. Università degli Studi “Mediterranea” Reggio Calabria PAU – Coordinator

2. Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza “Centro di Ricerca sulla Valorizzazione e gestione dei centri storici minori Fo.Cu.S. (Italy).

3. Salford University of Manchester (UK)

4. Aalto University (FI),

5. Northeastern University di Boston (USA)

6. San Diego State University (USA)


The joint Exchange program is based on a research project integrated with a higher education agenda designed to build and test a Multidisciplinary Approach aiming at understanding how Smart Specialization Strategies (S3) can be translated into spatially-oriented local development policies.


Smart specialization is a new innovation policy concept designed to promote the efficient and effective use of public investment in research. Its goal is to boost regional innovation in order to achieve economic growth and prosperity, by enabling regions to focus on their strengths. Smart specialization understands that spreading investment too thinly across several frontier technology fields risks limiting the impact in any one area.

The project intends to examine how S3 can be implemented, with respect to the new agenda of Europe 2020, by incorporating a place-based dimension.

The main aims are: 1) to identify and examine S3 in terms of spatial, social and environmental factors; 2) to take into account local needs and opportunities driving regional policy interventions not only to emphasize “Key Enable Technologies”, but also to empower local innovation process – tacit knowledge, embedded social networks, innovative milieu.


The selected theme of the project is a response to the demand for “a comprehensive innovation strategy to enhance Europe's capacity to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and highlights the concept of smart specialization as a way to achieve these goals” (Smart Specialization Platform – European Commission).


The main objective of the MAPS-LED program is to build and test an evidence- based methodology for recognizing and assessing emerging and potential of S3. The methodology will be developed by drawing insights from existing successful US Clusters.


Europe 2020 is the European Union’s ten-year growth and jobs strategy that was launched in 2010. It is about more than just overcoming the crisis from which our economies are now gradually recovering. It is also about addressing the shortcomings of our growth model and creating the conditions for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Following the Smart Specialization Platform (European Commission), the general track of the project is to implement smart specialization as a key element for place-based regeneration policies for local economic areas.


The MAPS-LED process starts from a place-based framework and will include two important drivers:

1. Cluster policy and cluster-based analysis,

2. Innovative milieu in terms of the local value chains based on the urban-rural linkages (drawing from the CLUDs findings

The MAPS-LED project will be built in order to connect three important key-factors including:

• Governance – in terms of cluster policy and based cluster analysis;

• Localization – in terms of place-based approach;

• Territorial network – in terms of innovative milieu based on urban-rural link.

The core of this network activity will be driven by joint research and training activities along three main topics:

• Innovation approaching the S3 concept through spatial planning (city-region and S3);

• Innovation in assessing the potential S3 (cluster policy and territorial milieu);

• Innovation in the application of an emerging evaluative tool: Sustainable Return On Investment (SuROI)


CLUDs Lab belongs to the PTAU department at the “Mediterranea” University from Reggio Calabria, Italy. The combination of high education and research profiles is ensured by the existing international network which was established from 2011 to 2014 within the research project CLUDs.

The network has been confirmed within the new research international project MAPS-LED, for the period 2015-2019. The network is coordinated by the Prof. Carmelina Bevilacqua.







Università degli Studi "MEDITERRANEA"

CLUDs Lab  -  Community Local Urban Development Laboratory  -  Universita' degli Studi Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria  -  Dipartimento Patrimonio Architettonico e Urbanistico

Via Salita Melissari, Feo di Vito  -  89124 Reggio Calabria IT  -  tel. (+39) 0965 385201   fax. (+39) 0965 385219