Investments into interregional innovation through I3 Funding
Facts and figures
Regional public administrations are frequently involved, striving to create a supportive environment to strengthen technological development and innovation.
The crucial role of interregional cooperation
Bringing together and supporting innovation actors, businesses, research, civil society, and public administration is at the core of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) support. As national or regional innovation strategies, they set priorities for building competitive advantages in the Member States and regions by developing local research and innovation strengths and matching them to business needs.
One sense of the interregional investment is strengthening the culture of multinational and innovative projects within the EU.
However, it has turned out that it can be challenging for the innovation actors to move beyond networking and planning and towards joint innovation investments, especially in less developed regions with weaker managerial capacities. It is also difficult to provide EU funding from programmes under the management of more than one region or Member State, not least because of the complexity of grant arrangements and state aid rules.
The public input is complemented by the work of the Commission I3 expert group, which consists of members of umbrella organisations for regions, research & innovation and industry and representatives from the Member States.
A tool for commercialisation and scaling up
All that spurred the European Commission to take action. The new regulation for ERDF in 2021-2027 introduced support for interregional innovation investments. This support, through the Interregional Innovation Investments instrument (I3), brings together researchers, businesses, civil society and public administrations.
Supported projects must align with national or regional smart specialisation strategies and EU key political priorities (green and digital transition), allowing cooperation between countries and regions within the shared objectives.
This approach will enable partnerships to obtain financing from one source, with one set of rules, thus ensuring a smooth path to commercialisation and the scaling up of their joint innovation investment projects.
Creating linkages between less developed regions and lead regions
The current I3 Calls provide financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects with a specific emphasis on SMEs and Start-ups. Special attention is focused on the capacity of regional innovation eco-systems in less developed, transition and outermost EU regions to participate in global value chains and the capacity to participate in partnerships with other regions.
How to apply for funding
The I3 instrument is implemented under direct management by the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA). All information about the Calls and the application links are available on the EISMEA website.
The first deadline for applications in February showed considerable interest in this instrument. As a result, a subsequent and still open cut-off date for submitting applications to the I3 Call has been added for applicants where the leading partner is from a less developed, transition or outermost EU region/country.
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