On 17 October, the Commission closed the first coordinated calls under the Regional Innovation Valleys initiative to strengthen EU cohesion and innovation. Over 50 proposals were received with nearly 1000 participants from 25 Member States and 6 Associated Countries.
The Regional Innovation Valleys aim to harness the full innovation potential, including cutting-edge technology, in the different EU territories to address societal challenges and the innovation divide. Its objective is to identify up to 100 regions committed to strengthening the coordination of their research and innovation investments and policies.
To achieve that goal, the Commission made €122 million available under the European Innovation Ecosystems(EIE) initiative of Horizon Europe and the Interregional Innovation Investments Instrument (I3) of the European Regional Development Fund. These calls for proposals aim to strengthen and advance European innovation ecosystems, connecting all EU territories to respond to societal challenges and foster stronger cohesion.
In total, 57 proposals have been submitted under both programmes combining cohesion and innovation policies. Both EIE WP and I3 instrument calls have achieved notable geographic balance.
8 proposals have been submitted under the European Innovation Ecosystems call “Implementing co-funded action plans for connected regional innovation valleys” (HORIZON-EIE-2023-CONNECT-03) from 22 EU Member States and 6 Associated Countries to Horizon Europe. For the EIE call, 181 participants requested € 83 million and committed to co-fund another € 83 million, demonstrating their willingness to reinforce their research and innovation investments and policies.
49 proposals have been submitted under Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument. Under the “Financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects” strand, 27 proposals have been submitted from 24 EU Member States. Under the “Financial and advisory support to the development of value chains in less developed regions” strand, 22 proposals have been submitted from 25 EU Member States. In total, 815 participants requested € 264 million and committed to co-finance € 92 million from own sources in innovation projects in joint smart specialisation areas.
The proposals come in addition to the expression of interest with 164 eligible applicants from 23 Member States and 6 Associated Countries expressing interest to become regional innovation valleys.
The evaluation will take place between October 2023 and February 2024. The results will be announced in March 2024
The Commission expects successful proposals to implement interregional innovation projects bringing together strong innovative regions with emerging ones. These projects will address the most burning challenges facing the EU, namely reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, increasing global food security, mastering the digital transformation (including cybersecurity), improving healthcare and achieving circularity.
Source: European Commission | Research and Innovation (https://shorturl.at/nqEGW)