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Multi-Level Governance: Synergies between Cohesion Policy and Horizon Europe

By Platform
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The Policy Learning Platform organised an online discussion on Multi-level governance: Synergies between Cohesion Policy and Horizon Europe on 21 April 2023. The European Commission acknowledges the importance of the concentration of resources with the encouragement of exploiting complementarities and synergies between the ERDF, Horizon Europe, and other funds to achieve a critical mass of funding in priority areas.

More specifically, the European Commission recommends regions to build synergies between the two most important EU R&I funding instruments—Horizon Europe and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Synergies involve two or more programmes interacting to produce a greater effect than individual interventions. This is important as Horizon Europe and ERDF have different objectives, priorities, and target beneficiaries, which influence their modes of delivery.

Horizon Europe:

  • Excellence-based: competitive tenders,
  • Not place-based, international coorperation as an asset; focus on key enabling technologies and societal grand challenges,
  • Centralised selection procedure and administration.


  • Follows cohesion policy priorities to reduce regional disparities,
  • Place-based: project selection based on local strengths, mostly non-competitive tenders,
  • Administration and project selection (mostly) at the regional level.
There are four types of synergies

Quantitative analysis (see figure 3 below) to map the concentration of ERDF and Horizon funding can provide an evidence-based rationale to identify and build synergy opportunities along Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) and Societal Grand Challenges (SGCs).

During the online discussion, the participants shared insights on how to promote synergies between Horizon Europe and ERDF such as:

  • Regional policymakers must think strategically when combining different funding initiatives in parallel to ensure they align with the region’s strategic priorities.
  • In SMARTPILOTS, the good practice Shared pilot facilities Bio Base Europe Pilot Plant (BBEPP) highlights the role of not-for-profit pilot and demonstration infrastructures to build upstream synergies within an interregional perspective involving Flanders and the Netherlands. The good practice Innovation voucher for Seal of Excellence projects shows how regional policymakers took advantage of the Seal of Excellence initiative to provide innovation vouchers to SMEs in Lombardy, Italy.
  • The region of Puglia in Italy is building a strategic mapping tool to support regional innovation actors to understand and to navigate different funding and potential synergy opportunities. 

Further readings 


Download the presentations below. 

Cohesion policy