The objective of this paper is to contribute to the academic literature with an actionable framework of the roles of policy makers in entrepreneurial discovery processes (EDP) in the context of smart specialisation strategies (S3). The methodology used to define such roles is action research and, consequently, they are the result of learning and negotiation between policy makers and other territorial stakeholders facilitated by action researchers. The case study is based in the Bilbao Next Lab project (Bilbao, Basque region, Spain) where this methodology was chosen because policy makers wanted to explore EDP through collaborative governance. The key findings have been integrated in a framework named as the six roles of facilitative policymakers in EDPs. Its actionability is visible in the connection of the framework with the dilemmas, difficulties, and problems faced by policy makers when facilitating EDP processes. The framework is presented together with a discussion on the relevance of including tailored capacity development processes for policymakers as part of the EDP. The paper concludes with a final reflection on how the need for a facilitative role of policymakers also requires a transformation of research methodologies by social researchers.
Keywords: Smart specialisation strategy · Entrepreneurial discovery process · Facilitation · Capabilities · Policy process · Action research