In order to assess the overall role of smart specialization strategies in the development of rural regions, the Towards a smart Rural Europe consortium selected a variety of European case study regions for examination. The sectoral composition of the Styrian Vulkanland is more reminiscent of a typical rural region, given the large share of employees in the food and beverage production, while that of the Carinthian Lavanttal shows a trend towards more technical sectors. The sample firms of both regions are very much outward-oriented and generate much of their revenue on external markets. The interviewed entrepreneurs were also asked to assess potentiallybeneficial or harmful characteristics of the region for their enterprise. In the interviews, entrepreneurs of both regions often addressed the lack of regional skilled labor. The place-specific competitive advantage of a region might serve as the starting point when applying smart specialization strategies.