The flagship programme BSR Stars aims to catalyse internationally-collaborative innovation activities in the Baltic Sea region. BSR Stars is based on the challenge-driven and smart specialisation approaches. The challenge-driven approach assumes that “grand societal challenges” (created by e.g. demographic, urbanisation and environmental trends) also form “grand opportunities” for future business growth. For the BSR macro region, the smart specialisation approach means forming “smart” alliances between different research and innovation milieus (involving companies and research actors with specialised knowledge) – creating unique combinations of complementary competencies with good potential to develop new solutions that meet market needs.