city at night

European Innovation Ecosystems in Horizon Europe pillar III

  • Anna Tranberg
  • 29/01/2020

Ecosystem thinking based on collaboration between a range of stakeholders – academia, industry, different levels of the public sector, and civil society – is an approach that ERRIN is actively advocating for in the Horizon Europe programme. Connecting ecosystems across Europe would provide the possibility to access complementary skills, infrastructure, and markets, and collaborating ecosystems can form alliances to confront and overcome various challenges that both European society and regions face.

The new European Innovation Ecosystems component in pillar III is thus of great interest since it explicitly focuses on ecosystem building and strengthening as well as the possibility to support ecosystem to ecosystem collaboration, which is not currently supported anywhere else on an EU level.

In the development of the European Innovation Ecosystems component, we underline the following:

An innovation ecosystem involves a range of stakeholders
Bringing together stakeholders from different sectors and with different skills will improve the sourcing of new knowledge and allow for the development of more sustainable and impactful innovations with wide public acceptance. Actions should thus support a wide ecosystem approach rather than single innovators or one-to-one collaboration.

Ensure value creation from synergies with other funding programmes
Actions supported should consider how they complement and build on existing programmes and strategic collaborations/partnerships such as ESIF, the Digital Europe programme etc. For example, one can build on the Smart Specialisation (S3) Partnerships and the use cases developed through them to connect regional ecosystems across Europe.

Proposals for the support that the EIE action could provide:

Action for collaboration between excellent regional and local innovation ecosystems
Supporting collaboration between excellent ecosystems to tackle shared challenges, further excel in a specific area or enhance complementarities by building value chains.

An innovation ecosystem accelerator
With the aim to accelerate the maturity of emerging ecosystems by connecting them with more advanced ones. Newly initiated innovation ecosystems will need time to develop and grow. This time can be reduced by facilitating collaboration with successful ecosystems in other parts of Europe. This action could focus on start-up support, staff exchange, demonstration etc. allowing emerging ecosystems to benefit from more advanced ones and for advanced ones to get new ideas and make new connections.

Support ecosystem connectors or multipliers at a regional level
Enhance and better target support by extending the EEN model to support ecosystem “connectors” across actor groups and funding programmes.


Stakeholder questionnaire – deadline 2 February

Targeted to the stakeholders that had been consulted during the participatory workshops, the results of the questionnaire will be presented in the conference on 18 February 2020 to a representative group of actors of the European Innovation Ecosystems. The results will feed into the preparation of the next Innovation Ecosystems Work Programme for 2021 and will help prioritise the activities including targeted issues, tools for implementation, instrumental stakeholders and expected impact.

Stakeholder workshop with regions – 25 November 2019

Together with the Commission, ERRIN and two other regional networks organised a workshop where regional stakeholders were invited to provide input. The objective was to better understand the challenges and needs as well as to explore best practices and gather suggestions for specific actions that could be carried out as part of the European Innovation Ecosystems. This workshop was part of a series of consultations the Commission is organising with different stakeholders, others include universities, corporates, investors, start-ups, cities, national innovation agencies and ministries.

During the workshop, the discussion ranged from the sustainability of the initiatives that will be funded and how to practically involve a range of actors in the ecosystem to the importance of building on S3 priorities and the critical mass in the region to excellence and synergies with other programmes.  

The report from the workshop can be downloaded here.

The Commission will organise a final conference to conclude the workshops on the 18 February 2020 in Brussels.