Digital Innovation Hubs and Interregional Innovation Investment

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The much-awaited calls on European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) and Interregional Innovation Investment (I3) have recently been launched. The two funding instruments will have important policy implications for regional policymakers in research and innovation in the programming period 2021-2027. The Policy Learning Platform thematic experts in research and innovation will plan activities and events in the second semester of 2022 to promote interregional learning and exchanges of experience and enhance capacity-building regarding the two funding instruments. 

Under Digital Europe, European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) aim to address the needs of the public and private sectors, including all economic sectors, by offering a wide range of specialised digital transformation services. EDIHs will function as one-stop shops and will provide services based on a specific focus/expertise, which will support the local private and public sector with their digital and green transformation. EDIHs will provide access to technical expertise and experimentation, innovation services, such as financing advice, training, and skills development, and the possibility to “test before invest” with the overall objective for companies to improve business/production processes, products, or services using digital technologies. The services will mainly target (1) SMEs and small-midcaps and/or (2) public sector organisations conducting non-economic activities.

Following the adoption of the Digital Europe Programme work programme , the first restricted call for EDIHs was opened on 17 November 2021 and the deadline date to apply is 22 February 2022 to enable selected EDIHs to start their operations towards September 2022. 

The Interregional Innovation Investment (I3) Instrument is a new Cohesion Policy tool under European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) focusing on existing interregional partnerships that emerged around concrete smart specialisation strategies (S3). The instrument combines the bottom-up approach of smart specialisation strategies (S3) with investment support in key European priorities–namely green and digital transition and smart manufacturing–to accelerate market uptake and scale-up in high technology readiness levels (TRL 6 to 9) in the S3 participating regions. Ultimately, the instrument’s objective is to reshape or shape EU interregional value chains.

The Interregional Innovation Investment (I3) Instrument launches two calls for the period 2021-2022 under two strands: 

  • Strand 1 (deadline 1 February 2022) on financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects. 
  • Strand 2 (18 October 2022) targets mature partnerships to help them accelerate market uptake and scale-up of innovative solutions in shared smart specialisation priority areas, as well as to develop a portfolio of investment projects. Partnerships should be able to build on existing assets such as cluster initiatives supported by the Commission, participation in Horizon 2020 and, where applicable, Knowledge and Innovation Communities.

The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) will organise an online webinar on 9 December 2021 to learn more about the Interregional Innovation Investment (I3) Instrument calls opened for the 2021-2022 period.

European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) also launched the Joint Cluster Initiatives (EUROCLUSTERS) for Europe’s recovery that aims to help in the implementation of the updated EU industrial strategy. The European Commission has launched around 30 cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and trans-European strategic Joint Cluster Initiatives to be called ‘Euroclusters’ that will be discussed during our online thematic workshop on Clusters: Driving the Green and Digital Twin Transitions on Friday 10 December 2021.  

Learn more on European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) and Interregional Innovation Investment (I3)

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