A regional and local perspective – why place-based research and innovation ecosystems are important

To achieve and maximise the impact of EU programmes related to research and innovation, regional and local innovation ecosystems are crucial. Innovation happens in places and there are specific local conditions which make such innovation ecosystems flourish.

A wide range of stakeholders – academia, industry, the public sector, and civil society – need to be involved in collaborative projects. Innovation ecosystems bring together stakeholders from different sectors and with different skills, which will improve the sourcing of new knowledge, allow for the development of more relevant products and services, and provide space for testing of new technologies to build acceptance.

ERRIN’s expertise lies in the close collaboration with our members and in our ability to provide concrete input based on experience and expertise.

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ERRIN's input to Horizon programmes 2014-2027 consultation

February 2023

European research and innovation policy and programmes

Our main focus is the EU framework programme for research and innovation Horizon 2020 and its successor Horizon Europe. However, certain aspects of research and innovation – education, uptake, scale-up, etc. – are funded by a variety of EU programmes, which means that we also work on programmes such as cohesion policy (S3 and Interregional Innovation Investment initiative), Connecting Europe Facility, Creative Europe, Digital Europe, Erasmus+, InvestEU, LIFE, Innovation Fund, Single Market.

Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe plays a key role in providing solutions for the environmental, social, and economic transformations needed to tackle the challenges faced by regions and cities across the Union, and as a result, it will have a profound impact on improving the lives of Europe’s citizens.

These solutions will differ across Europe depending on the regional, local, and social context. Therefore, a place-based perspective built on excellence and collaboration between a range of stakeholders is crucial to develop sustainable and impactful innovations with a wide public acceptance. Europe’s competitiveness depends on our ability to combine economic development with sustainable and inclusive solutions to our societal challenges.

To further increase the impact and efficiency of Horizon Europe funding, coordination between research and innovation agendas on a local, regional, national and European level, as well as between the public and private sector are needed. To do so, further work should be done on creating practical complementarities between S3 strategies, S3 partnerships, European Partnerships and how these link to the clusters in Horizon Europe.

Image source: European Commission

Highlighted policy documents - Horizon Europe

Addressing common challenges with ecosystem thinking

Applying an ecosystem approach

Ecosystem thinking and effective quadruple helix cooperation should be a key element in pillar 2 of Horizon Europe. Such an approach could be implemented by inserting requirements for consortia to include partners from a wider spectrum of stakeholder groups, to facilitate the involvement of the public sector and end-users. This does not necessarily mean that consortia should become larger, but that it should stimulate new partner constellations and the participation of new actors with the aim to generate new sustainable and inclusive solutions to global challenges.

Demand-driven and bottom-up

Following the logic of the mission-oriented approach, the call definitions should be flexible to allow bottom-up proposals based on the needs of – and challenges faced by – the ecosystems and their end-users. This would also mean that projects are sufficiently demand-driven to ensure further scale-up and a wider uptake of innovative solutions.

Citizen involvement

Effective quadruple helix cooperation will boost demand-driven research and innovation and increase the involvement of citizens in research and innovation projects. A reflective process should be put in place at an early stage of developing research and innovation projects to determine when and how citizens should be to enhance societal impact.

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European Innovation Ecosystems

The new European Innovation Ecosystems action (EIE) provides a great opportunity to build and strengthen ecosystems as well as support ecosystem to ecosystem collaboration, which is not currently supported anywhere else on an EU level. This will provide access to complementary skills, infrastructure, and markets. Collaborating ecosystems can also form alliances to address various challenges at both EU and regional level.

In the development of the EIE, ERRIN has underlined the importance of supporting a wide ecosystem approach rather than single innovators or one-to-one collaboration as well as to ensure that supported actions consider how they can build on and complement existing programmes and strategic partnerships. ERRIN also proposed a set of actions that could be supported where our members see the most added value:  

Strengthening collaboration between excellent ecosystems to tackle shared challenges, further excel in a specific area or enhance complementarities by building value chains

Accelerating the maturity of emerging ecosystems by connecting them with more advanced ones

Support ecosystem connectors or multipliers at a regional level

ERRIN actively engaged in the consultation process, participating in the Commission stakeholder workshop with regions, the stakeholder questionnaire, and the final stakeholder conference organised by the Commission.

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Latest Updates

  • By Ewa Chomicz

EU's Knowledge Ecosystems: A Regional Stakeholder Survey

The ERA FABRIC project, which aims to define the ERA Hubs concept across Europe, launched a survey for regional stakeholders to identify the most recurrent characteristics and parameters of excellence of European knowledge ecosystems. ERA Hubs concept remains of particular interest for ERRIN. The survey will be open until 10 March 2024.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

Direction FP10 – rolling out ERRIN's activities in 2024

With the Commission proposal on the next EU Framework Programme for R&I (FP10) expected in mid-2025, this year will be key for setting the tone for further work on the topic and actively engaging in discussion. Have a look at an overview of ERRIN activities currently in the pipeline and opportunities to engage.

  • By Lucy Hammond

Horizon 2020 evaluation published

The European Commission has published the Horizon 2020 Evaluation report, highlighting that investment in EU research and innovation greatly pays off. The publication feeds into the discussion around the next European Framework Programme for R&I post-2027 (FP10) - ERRIN's priority area of focus for the coming years.

  • By Lucy Hammond

The JRC publishes "Innovation for place-based transformations. ACTIONbook, practices and tools"

The Joint Research Centre, in collaboration with the European Committee of the Regions, has published the "Innovation for place-based transformations. ACTIONbook, practices and tools". The ACTIONbook builds upon the PRI Playbook and PRI Pilot experience to help address complex challenges.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

Towards FP10 – ERRIN member survey to strengthen the ground for future work

This year is decisive when it comes to the development of the next European Framework Programme for R&I (FP10). To shape ERRIN's work on the topic, we encourage all members to fill in a survey about their regional work on FP10 and key issues to address. Receiving a broad view from the membership will be key for building the network's position. The deadline is now extended until 19 February!

  • By Ewa Chomicz

Regional innovation highlighted in Council conclusions on R&I

On 8 December, the Council of the EU approved conclusions on strengthening the role and impact of research and innovation in policymaking – a priority file for the Spanish Presidency of the Council. A stronger role for local and regional innovation to strengthen competitive R&I is featured in the conclusions as one of the three mutually complementary dimensions.