Orkestra is a research centre within the structure of Deusto Foundation, established by the University of Deusto to promote the transfer of research-generated knowledge to society. Orkestra’s mission is to support – through research, training, technical assistance, evaluation, debate and participation in international networks of excellence – the activities carried out by public administrations, socio-economic agents and other stakeholders with the goal of enhancing territorial competitiveness. Throughout the years, our researchers have worked on the evolution of the concept of competitiveness, understanding that it cannot be isolated from social and environmental dimensions. In other words, the different research lines in territorial competitiveness meet the intertwined social and economic needs of the territory. The emergence of a broader and a more inclusive model of development have opened new approaches that are being developed together with policymakers and citizens.

The territorial focus of Orkestra’s work in the Basque Country is complemented by engagement in international networks. This ensures that research on the Basque context contributes to advancing international knowledge and that ideas from around the world permeate the Basque competitiveness and socio-economic model. Orkestra’s international team of researchers have strong academic and/or policy-facing backgrounds, each bringing a range of experience in national and international projects.

Following this path, Orkestra has gained critical knowledge on regional policy since its inception in 2006. Their expertise is focused on issues related to territorial strategy-making, governance, clusters, innovation and cluster policy, policy evaluation, and the role of territorial agents (such as universities, governments or firms) in territorial development processes. The conceptual work has been enriched by the experimentation and empirical work that has been conducted in co-operation with regional stakeholders (via several projects in direct interaction with the Basque Government and the three Basque Provincial Councils), regional governments in other Spanish regions (such as Navarra and Castilla y León) and other international partners.

Some examples of projects in this area include RISVIVO, which fosters a continuous reflection with the Basque Government to improve the implementation of the Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy (RIS3); Zubigintza, an action-research laboratory with the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa to support territorial development via territorial strategy and a new governance model; and Bizkaia Orekan (Balanced Bizkaia). Orkestra supports the Provincial Council of Bizkaia by working in collaboration with local development agents to build a competitive and territorially balanced Bizkaia.

At European level, our current most outstanding projects are related to the regional policy expertise field. These include initiatives such as Competitiveko for fostering cross-border territorial and firms’ cooperation under the framework of the RIS3; ClusterS3, that is helping to gain knowledge in how cluster policies can support the implementation of the RIS3; MANUMIX, that seeks to strengthen and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of innovation policy-mixes for advanced manufacturing at regional level through evaluation; and, AS FABRIK, a regional alliance for smart specialisation in advanced services towards the digital transformation of the industry. Previous experiences also include regional policy comparative exercises in the field of industrial regeneration and economic transformation between Norway, Sweden and the Basque Country (VRI Economic Transformation in Different Regions, 2014-2016); conceptual work on the state of play around the concept of smart specialisation though SMARTSPEC; the evaluation of the impact of different funding programmes for R&D in the development of clusters in a group of European regions Advanced Monitoring and Coordination of EU R&D Policies at Regional Level; and the mapping of regional innovation policies for a better and harmonised policy intelligence through the Regional Innovation Monitor.

We also have extensive knowledge on regional indicators at European level and more specifically on social indicators. Regarding experience on regional indicators, it is worth mentioning our participation in different phases of the European Cluster Observatory, where we developed the framework and collected the indicators to measure regional competitiveness and collaborated on the elaboration of the Regional Ecosystem Scoreboard. We have also developed a benchmarking tool available at the S3 Platform, which helps identify structurally similar regions across Europe. Explicitly on social indicators, Orkestra conducted in 2014 the first pilot project to measure social progress at subnational level, computing the SPI in the Basque Country, initiating the process that lead to the computation of the European Social Progress Index and being involved in its development.