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Voucher schemes: implementing innovation vouchers

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Organisations partners of Interreg Europe projects have learned from a number of good practices, which are successful initiatives with tangible and measurable results that have the potential to be transferred to another region, to introduce changes to their policies

Here are some examples of the way the cooperation in Interreg Europe brought value to the innovation vouchers schemes in different EU regions. 

Innovation vouchers can focus on moving up Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). 

In ECORIS3, the Lithuanian partner Science and Technology Park, Sunrise Valley, introduced ‘InoStartas LT’, an innovation voucher scheme to support commercialise R&D products and investments to promote university-industry collaboration. The innovation voucher scheme was originally designed for R&D technology feasibility studies for SMEs (up to TRL 3). Sunrise Valley was inspired by the ‘technological voucher’ scheme presented by the council of San Sebastian that focused on higher Technology Readiness Levels. InoStartas LT offers differentiate innovation vouchers for startups and SMEs at different Technology Readiness Levels (TRLS)—from TRL 1 to TRL 3, from TRL3 to TRL6, and from TRL7 to TRL9—to bring new products and services to the region. 

Innovation voucher schemes can target a wide range of participants. 

In INNOBRIDGE, the partner Pannon Novum, the regional innovation agency of West-Transdanubia in Hungary, revised its innovation voucher scheme in order to target more participants by including 'qualified innovative companies'. The scheme aims to stimulate collaboration between companies and R&D+I providers. This was made possible thanks to project’s workshops and discussions with Lower Austria, the Malopolska Region (Poland), and Tampere Region (Finland). From Lower Austria, the Hungarian partner learned about TIP INNOVATION PROFILING, a tool to match private companies with universities and research centres and to support companies to improve their innovation strategies.

From the Malopolska Region (Poland), the Hungarian partners learned about the wide range of possible service providers for innovation vouchers. From Finland, Pannon Novum learned about Tampere Region Innovation Voucher that is implemented in an agile and flexible way for companies to select service providers without pre-selection by public authorities. In ECORIS3, Vidzeme Planning Region, Latvia, learning from the experience of the Metropolitan City of Turin, Italy, with the Business incubator and Technology transfer, is running a pilot action on Innovation Managers that could be funded through innovation vouchers. The pilot action tests an innovation support programme that would help SMEs improve their innovative and R&D capacities through the professional support of innovation managers. 

Innovation voucher schemes can be aligned with the S3 strategic objectives. 

The Lombardy region (Italy) was using an innovation voucher scheme since 2010 to support collaboration between SMEs and knowledge providers (see good practice S3-INNODRIVER). Thanks to the work done with its partners in S34GROWTH, the voucher scheme was modified to align it with regional S3 strategic objectives. 

Innovation voucher schemes can be flexible and administratively simple. 

'Innovouchers' is a voucher scheme for SMEs to strengthen R&D and university-industry collaboration in Lithuania. Learning from similar voucher instruments, namely InnoBooster in Denmark that allows to differentiate funding opportunities and Innovouchers in Podkarpackie region in Poland that has simplified application procedures and administrative requirements, the Lithuanian partner of the project P2L2 implemented policy changes to revise its Innovouchers in order to increase funding per participants, to simplify project administration and lengthen project duration, and to increase and improve science-industry collaboration. 

Innovation voucher scheme can promote interregional collaboration. 

In S34GROWTH, the Basque Country introduced an interregional innovation voucher scheme for SMEs. The Basque Country is characterised by a dense regional innovation system that is inward-looking. From exchanges with S34GROWTH partners, Basque policymakers understood the importance of interregional cooperation and global value chains to overcome fragmentation and to boost regional firms’ competitiveness. The Basque policymakers were inspired by the multi-country voucher scheme during the visit at the Biobase Europe Pilot Plant in Ghent, Flanders. The policy change is a pilot voucher scheme programme to provide Basque firms with access and technical assistance for testing and experimentation infrastructure in selected Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) in priority European regions and in regions involved in the


Finally, to explore the different sectors of support to SME competitiveness where innovation vouchers can be successfully applied, have a look at our recently published article on innovation vouchers.

Learn more about Interreg Europe projects: ECORIS3INNOBRIDGEP2L2 and S34GROWTH.

Image credit: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels