European & place-based innovation ecosystems


Building an effective European research and innovation policy depend on strong interconnected research and innovation ecosystems embedded in regions and cities. Innovation happens in places and there are specific local conditions that enable ecosystems to flourish. ERRIN supports enhancing local and regional ecosystems and working towards achieving a less fragmented European innovation ecosystem. Supporting collaboration between different stakeholders – public administrations, universities, research organisations, companies, clusters and civil society – at regional level to strengthen ecosystems, as well as collaboration between ecosystems, are both essential to reach that goal.


Innovation ecosystems in context

The current multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) places increasing importance on the place-based dimension and includes several programmes and instruments that are developed around ecosystem thinking requiring the engagement of multiple stakeholders and embracing quadruple helix or quintuple helix collaboration. Digital Innovation Hubs (Digital Europe Programme), European Innovation Ecosystems Action (Horizon Europe) and Interregional Innovation Investments (ERDF), are examples of such developments. ERRIN has actively contributed to all these instruments.

Furthermore, the EU Missions have been selected as one of the main priorities of the ERRIN network and active work on them is ongoing because of their strong ecosystem approach, as ambitious time-bound targets require new collaborative models and enhance stronger collaboration among ecosystem actors. Especially the four Green Deal missions have a clear place-based dimension and propose implementation mechanisms that require multi-stakeholder collaboration. For example, the Cities Mission proposes a ‘climate city contract’ that should bring together the key stakeholders within the city as well as the levels of government – all working towards climate neutrality by 2030. The Ocean and Waters Mission proposes area-based lighthouses and demonstrators that also require new collaborative approaches.  

ERRIN also follows with interest the work currently underway in the framework of the renewed ERA and the ERA Forum for Transition to put forward a coherent strategy for involving all stakeholders in strengthening Europe's research and innovation policy. In this context, a dedicated joint policy action on ERA Hubs is under development. The objective of this action is to maximise value from knowledge creation, circulation, use, by strengthening territorial cohesion, place-based growth and regional development. Ideally, ERA Hubs could support organisations – and people – who are able to bring together different stakeholders, join up public and private spheres, break existing silos – also when it comes to synergies and complementarities between funding programmes. Read ERRIN's written input for the Forum for Transition on the ERA Hubs roll-out here.

New European Innovation Agenda

On 5 July 2022, the European Commission adopted the new European Innovation Agenda that aims at positioning Europe at the forefront of the new wave of deep tech innovation through 25 dedicated actions under five flagships. One of the five flagships – the flagship three – puts an emphasis on regional innovation and will strengthen ecosystem thinking and help connect regional ecosystems across Europe. This flagship three raises several actions such as creation of 100 Regional Innovation Valleys. The Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRI) Pilot, in which 47 ERRIN members are currently taking part, is another promising action mentioned that aims to strengthen regional smart specialisation strategies by expanding their scope to sustainable transition and broadening stakeholder engagement. This flagship is also expected to support Member States in fostering innovation in all regions through the integrated use of cohesion policy and Horizon Europe instruments. In this context, the focus is also placed on tackling the innovation divide, which remains a challenge for enabling the full R&I potential of Europe.

The Innovation Agenda puts a strong emphasis on “deep tech”. At the same time, many barriers to innovation are linked to bringing different sectors, disciplines – and people together. Therefore, further links should be created with EU Missions, which can be an excellent means to enhance regional innovation and implement a place-based ecosystem approach in practice.

Key funding instruments supporting ecosystem thinking

Latest Updates

  • By Ewa Chomicz

Launch of the Expert Group on the interim evaluation of Horizon Europe

On 5 December, the new expert group on the interim evaluation of Horizon Europe officially kicked off. As one of its tasks, the group will prepare a report with advice and recommendations for the future EU R&I Framework Programme. ERRIN looks forward to supporting the group with inputs that are key from regional and local perspectives.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

S3 Forum completed!

The S3 Forum – the first EU-level, in-person gathering on S3 since 2020 – took place on 28-29 November in Barcelona. ERRIN Secretariat joined the event alongside many network members and hundreds of S3 practitioners and experts from across Europe. The days were packed with discussions around perspectives for smart specialisation and interregional collaboration on innovation.

  • By Sandra Jansson

Jönköping Region wants to cooperate on Smart Specialisation

Region Jönköping County is interested in cooperating with actors in other regions within smart specialisation (in general and in their focus areas: Smart industry, manufacturing, Forestry and Wood Industry, Foodstuffs, Tourism, E-commerce and logistics in order to create a network to exchange ideas.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

A look forward: Launching ERRIN reflections on regional dimension in R&I post-2027

Autumn 2023 marked the start of ERRIN’s targeted reflections on regional dimension in research and innovation in the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework post-2027, relating to the next EU Framework Programme for R&I (FP10) and future cohesion policy. We are offering a recap of our activities so far, first messages and planned next steps.

  • By Agnieszka Wieczorek Jetha

ERRIN at the EWRC 2023

The European Week of Cities and Regions (EWRC) has come to an end. This year’s edition has been particularly rich in ERRIN’s involvement, with the Secretariat co-organising four events, promoting projects, and the Working Group Leaders participating in several panel discussions.

  • By Ewa Chomicz

169 country actions in support of the New European Innovation Agenda

On 19 September 2023, the European Commission published the list of actions that Member States and Associated Countries to Horizon Europe are so far undertaking or planning to undertake in support of one or more of the five flagships of the New European Innovation Agenda, including Flagship 3 closely followed by ERRIN. 20 countries have so far reported 169 actions in total, with their scope ranging from regional, through national to European.