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Designing regional open innovation calls

Peer review
By Platform
Four people at a table discussing and working

On 29 and 30 March 2023, the Policy Learning Platform organised an onsite peer review for the benefit of the Region of Central Macedonia (Greece) in Thessaloniki, to address the policy challenge of designing open innovation calls.



The main challenge

The Region Central Macedonia was looking for inspiration on how to best design regional open innovation calls. The two questions that were addressed were:

  • How to design and deliver regional open innovation calls?
  • How to favour multi-level coordination with national innovation calls?
Current state of affairs

The Region of Central Macedonia wanted to learn from the experience of European regions in designing their regional open innovation calls from a multi-level perspective

Open innovation calls are now a regular feature in regional policy mixes, primarily focused on addressing specific business or societal challenges. Unlike conventional innovation calls that concentrate on particular industrial sectors, open innovation calls are challenge-driven and seek to find innovative solutions to these challenges.

Peers from across Europe

Alongside Marc Pattinson and Arnault Morisson, our thematic experts, six excellent peers participated in the peer review:

  • Alba Quer, ACCIÓ - Agency for Business Competitiveness, Spain
  • Américo Veloso Bento, National Innovation Agency, ANI, Portugal
  • Joep Hoveling, SNN, Northern Netherlands Alliance, the Netherlands
  • Juan Carlos Martinez, European Centre for Innovation and Business, CEEI-Burgos, Spain
  • Sevdalina Voynova, Sofia Development Association, Bulgaria
  • William Gilles, IMODEV, France

The peers shared their experiences and provided tailored policy recommendations for ways of tackling the Region of Central Macedonia’s challenges.

They provided the host with valuable insights, know-how, and practical suggestions for solving the challenges presented above.


Designing an open innovation call takes time and effort. The Region can get inspiration from existing good practices, peer reviewer regions, well-known schemes such as challenge.gov, NESTA Challenges, or Singapore.

The peers suggested that the Region should learn and initiate an experimental approach by conducting a small-scale open innovation call, to gain acknowledgment and attention from stakeholders in the regional innovation ecosystem, and then expand by implementing larger open innovation calls

The peers recommended the Region to participate in existing European awards and prizes to get visibility and to learn the process—EIC prizes, European Capital of Innovation Awards, Horizon Europe Prizes, or REGIOSTARS.

The peers recommended the host Region to identify innovation calls that are aligned with its own regional innovation ecosystem priorities (policy alignment).

For instance, there will be national/European innovation calls in megatrends (Green just transition, digital just transition, societal challenges, climate change, biodiversity, young, women, senior).

The Region should anticipate and prepare for them before calls are even launched. This way, it will build legitimacy to become the natural recipient of potential/future innovation calls.

Peer review report

Download the full peer review report including the recommendations below. 

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Open innovation