In the last years there has been lots of debate in academic and policy-making arena about what innovation policy-mix means. This is particularly interesting in the framework of Smart Specialisation Strategies as a new generation of innovation policy. These strategies give directionality to previous approaches and therefore new (or adapted) mixes of instruments have to be implemented to respond to these new challenges. It is here where evaluation and policy-learning processes could really help to understand these new mixes and to improve them. This is at the core of the MANUMIX project, which led by Innobasque and with the participation of representatives of 4 European territories with and Advanced Manufacturing related strategy (Basque Country, Piadmont, Lithuania and Wales) and advised by Orkestra discussed in the first learning journey held in Bilbao.
The aim of this journey was twofold. First of all, it was important to share the different understandings of advanced manufacturing for each territory, and although it didn’t result in a common approach, it was important to reflect that different contexts lead to different understandings and therefore different challenges may flourish. Innovation instruments come into play in this nexus, between context and challenges. Secondly, a debate around whether these instruments are combined in an intentional or unintentional manner from the policy-making side captured the afternoon discussion. Although it was recognised that some of the interactions between the different instruments for advanced manufacturing where intentional, in many cases the effect of these interactions is known afterwards, in the implementation phase. And what is even more, sometimes it is the beneficiary the one that clearly identifies this interaction and not the policy-maker.