The effect of digital transformation towards more efficient, place-based and bottom-up innovation policies at different spatial scales has proven significant, as digital technologies modify existing policy-design routines in cities and regions. Smart places (cities, districts, neighbourhoods, ecosystems) depend on the way digitalisation disrupts systems of innovation in cities, making it more open, global, participatory and experimental. We argue that the rise and interconnection of various types of intelligence (artificial, human, collective) could bring profound changes in the way smart places are being created and evolve. In this context, cyber-physical systems of innovation are deployed through multiple nodes acquiring digital companions, collaboration is deployed over physical, social, and digital spaces, and actors can use complex methods guided by software and get insights from data and analytics.
The paper also presents the case study of OnlineS3, a two-year Horizon 2020 project, which developed and tested a digital platform composed of applications, datasets and roadmaps, which altogether create a digital environment for empowering the design of smart specialisation strategies for local and regional systems of innovation. The results indicate that digital transformation allows the operationalisation of multiple methodologies which have not been used earlier by policy makers, due to lack of capabilities. It can also increase the scalability of indicators facilitating decision making at different spatial scales and, therefore, better respond to the complexity of innovation systems providing dynamic and scale-diverse information.