Regional Innovation Valleys calls for proposals launched!

Regional Innovation Valleys calls for proposals launched!

The first Regional Innovation Valleys (RIV) calls for proposals under the European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) part of Horizon Europe and under the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument of the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) were launched today by the European Commission with an overall budget of EUR 122 million. The EIE RIV call was originally expected to open in January 2024 but later advanced to today. The closing date for the first RIV calls is 17 October 2023.

The coordinated RIV calls are linked to the New European Innovation Agenda flagship 3 focusing on strengthening European innovation ecosystems and addressing the innovation divide. The common aim is to create connected regional innovation valleys across the EU, involving regions with lower innovation performances, by building on strategic areas of regional strength and specialisation (defined in their smart specialisation strategies), in support of key EU priorities (such as reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, increasing global food security, mastering the digital transformation including cybersecurity, improving healthcare and achieving circularity). Successful applicant regions under the RIV calls can be recognised as “regional innovation valleys”.

While the RIV calls share the same overall objective, they differ in the proposed paths to achieve it, as well as in eligibility criteria.

The EIE RIV call emphasises ecosystem thinking with a primary focus on the regional aspects of innovation, targeting national and/or regional innovation authorities. It aims to support strategically oriented long-term programmes of activities (action plans) to enable authorities in charge of public national, regional, or local innovation policies and programmes, with the participation of the private sector and research and innovation actors, to implement joint activities towards innovation development and deployment, aimed at tackling challenges at EU, national, regional, and local level.

The call is organised as a Co-fund Action, with an overall indicative budget of EUR 60 million and funding rate at 50% of the eligible costs. Six projects are expected to be funded with EU contribution of EUR 8-12 million each. The applicants are encouraged to consider a project duration of 3-5 years. This action requires the participation, as beneficiaries, of at least 5 national or regional authorities, from at least 5 different Member States or Associated Countries, of which at least 2 are representing a 'moderate' or 'emerging' innovator region and at least 1 is representing a 'strong' or 'innovation leader' innovator region according to the Regional Innovation Scoreboard.

Find the EIE RIV call in the Funding & Tenders Portal here (HORIZON-EIE-2023-CONNECT-03-01).

ERRIN has been closely following the EIE RIV call and facilitating consortium building. Read more here.

The I3 RIV calls are more business-oriented, concentrating on financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects in shared and complementary smart specialisation areas along European value chains, including in less developed regions. The development of the business and investment cases is facilitated by the regional innovation ecosystems with companies in the lead. The goal is to mobilise tangible and intangible investments in companies, in particular small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Two I3 RIV calls are opened under Strand 1 “Financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects” and Strand 2a “Financial and advisory support to the development of value chains in less developed regions”. The available budget for project grants is EUR 31 million for each Strand, and project budgets (maximum grant amount) are expected to range between EUR 2-10 million each. The project duration is expected between 18-36 months. Proposals must be submitted by a consortium including as beneficiaries different independent legal entities established in different regions in different eligible countries, involving less developed regions according to Art 108 of the Common Provisions Regulation (EU) 2021/1060 (specific numbers vary by Strand).

Find the I3 RIV calls in the Funding & Tenders Portal here (Strand 1: I3-2023-INV1) and here (Strand 2a: I3-2023-INV2a).

Applicants are encouraged to actively engage with the wider community including innovation ecosystems and (future) Regional Innovation Valleys, e.g. in the framework of the Commission’s S3 Community of Practice, where ERRIN is part of the Secretariat, and relevant Thematic Smart Specialisation Partnerships. Regional Innovation Valleys initiative is also supported e.g. by the Partnerships for Regional Innovation (see upcoming event on 30-31 May here).

RIV calls for proposals online info session is planned on 25 May from 9:30-12:00 CEST. Learn more here.