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Call for Innovation Transfer Networks
Estimated EU contribution per project
max. € 550,000.00
Link to the call
Link to the submission
URBACT networks foster the exchange of experience and good practice across cities, building urban stakeholders’ capacity to develop efficient solutions. URBACT Innovation Transfer Networks (ITN) provide a framework for cities to adapt and prepare for the transfer of projects developed and implemented under the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) initiative. In contrary to other types of URBACT networks, Innovation Transfer Networks will be formed along the topics of Urban Innovative Action projects that were implemented from 2016 to 2023. Cities that have implemented an UIA project will act as Lead Partners by default.
Innovation Transfer Networks have two principal objectives:
- The first is to improve the capacity of cities to manage sustainable urban policies, and more specifically, to strengthen the design of integrated planning solutions. ITNs are expected to support an organised process of exchange and learning among peers, with a view to improving the analysis of challenges, enhancing innovative approaches and supporting improved local policies and planning.
- The second objective is to cascade the innovations developed by UIA cities that will be acting as Lead Partners of the Innovation Transfer Networks. The focus of these networks is to support the adaptation of the original innovation project and to prepare for its reuse, in a format that reflects the new local context. The full implementation of this may take longer than the lifetime of the network, and the eventual output may differ markedly from the original. This reflects the fact that the transfer journey, although a shared experience, is ultimately a unique one for each transfer partner.
Innovation Transfer networks will have a total duration of 24 months which will be organised around 3 distinct stages with related milestones:
- Stage 1 – Understand: the first 6 months will be dedicated to the developing a deep and shared understanding of the UIA project that includes visits of Lead Partner and Lead Expert to the network partners for the production of a Transferability Study.
- Stage 2 – Adapt: the following 12 months will be dedicated to exchange and learning activities focusing on the adaptation of the UIA project to different city contexts. By breaking down the UIA project into different modules and by establishing the conditions for transfer at local level, partners will co-create their first draft Investment Plan. For the Lead Partner this will be the time for a first version of the Continuity plan focusing on improvement and sustainability of the UIA project.
- Stage 3 – Preparing for Re-use: in the final 6 months partners will review their plans and improve them by exploring funding options for future implementation. This period will also see the production of a Network Final report reflecting the results and future prospects.
All networks will have a minimum set of standard activities and benefiting from bespoke support from network experts. Networks are expected to organise at least 5 core network meetings (in-person) as well as the additional (customised) set of exchange and learning activities (in-person and/ or online) developed during the stage 1 based on the Transferability study. Each Transferability Study will provide a detailed framework for the UIA project transfer with a unique network roadmap. This will feed the transfer process and the development of Investment/ Continuity plans at local level.
Capturing learning and sharing key lessons with wider community of practitioners is essential for ourjoint URBACT mission. In this regard, 4 Quarterly network Journals and at least 3 network articles for network target audiences are expected to be produced during the life-span of the network. In addition, reaching relevant decision makers (including funders) is key for ensuring proper implementation of policies on the ground. In this regard, all networks will have the opportunity to produce respective Communication plans guiding the networks towards their policy advocacy ambitions.
A menu of tailor-made capacity building activities exclusively designed for ITN partners shall strengthen the capacities for the design and implementation of innovative solutions. The programme-led knowledge and communication activities will accompany the networks throughout their URBACT journey in their quest for recognition by making their results visible.
Expected effects and impacts
- Enhancing the city’s profile as a lead player in the network’s policy area
- Gathering suggestions for improvement to their UIA model from the network’s peer review activities
- Sustaining the practice and reviewing it considering the cross-cutting principles of Green transition, Digital Transition and Gender equality
URBACT supports networks in any thematic issues on better cooperation governance. The UIA projects over the last programming period (2014-2020) span 14 topics:
- Air quality
- Circular Economy
- Climate Adaptation
- Culture & Cultural Heritage
- Demographic change
- Digital Transition
- Energy Transition
- Integration of migrants and refugees
- Jobs & skills in the local economy
- Sustainable use of land and nature-based solutions
- Urban mobility
- Urban poverty
- Urban security
The Call for Innovation Transfer Networks is open to all of them, without any thematic weighting or ring-fencing. Nevertheless, projects need to explain how their proposal links to the Cohesion Policy Objectives in their application form.
The activities in URBACT networks are always structured around 3 Work Packages (WPs):
- WP1 — Network Management
- The activities to be developed under Work Package 1 aim to ensure the sound management and coordination of the network concerning both the overall project management and all aspects of administrative and financial management. These also include organisation of responsibilities between the partners by building a strong collaborative relationship and ensuring the effective communication flows within the network and external audience.
- WP2 — Network Level (Transnational) Activities
- Work Package 2 is about the transnational exchange and learning (E&L) activities, which form the core of all URBACT networks. The lessons learnt during the transnational activities will inspire partners to adapt this knowledge at local level, develop skills relating to innovative practices and co-design a robust Investment/ Continuity plan with peers
- WP3 — Local Level Activities
- Local level activities within the URBACT network are centred on the URBACT Local Groups (ULGs), established in each participating city. The ULG aims to have an impact on local governance and practices by enabling save space for the innovation in city administrations. It promotes the environment for active involvement of local stakeholders in co-creation and production of Investment/ Continuity Plans
Each work package has its own aim. Work package 1 focuses on network management and coordination and is crucial to ensure the correct functioning of the network. Work Package 2 and Work Package 3 are intertwined and shall feed each other - a continuous flow of knowledge between the transnational and the local level activities should therefore exist, for effective results. Communication and dissemination activities are spread throughout all Work Packages. Each work package outlines activities that shall take place in order to achieve the desired outcomes. Regardless of uniqueness of network work programmes all networks shall follow the same framework for shaping the network activities.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Montenegro (Црна Гора), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Switzerland (Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera), Ukraine (Україна)
Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs)
Transnational partnerships are cornerstones of all URBACT Networks. The rules defined below apply to all partnerships involved in Innovation Transfer Network proposals.
- Only cities having delivered a UIA project can be Lead Partner of an Innovation Transfer Network. Therefore, only cities from the 27 EU Member States can be Lead Partners of Innovation Transfer Networks.
- The candidate Lead Partner can be candidate Lead Partner in one URBACT proposal only under this call.
- The list of UIA cities which have expressed their interest to lead an Innovation Transfer Network can be consulted here: https://urbact.eu/partnersearchtool
In addition to the Lead Partner, the partnership to be proposed must include from 4 to 6 Transfer partners from eligible countries. Therefore, a network will include from 5 to 7 city partners in total.
Partnerships must respect the following rules:
- A partnership may include 1 “non-city partner” maximum
- A beneficiary (city and non-city partners) cannot be a partner in more than two approved Innovation Transfer Networks at the same time;
- A partnership can not include two cities from the same Member/Partner State
- A candidate city can be candidate Lead Partner of one Innovation Transfer Network proposal only but can also be a Project Partner in another network at the same time.
A balance of cities from Less Developed and Transition EU regions is necessary as follows:
- a minimum of 3 partners from Less Developed and Transition EU Regions where the total number of partners is 5 to 6.
- a minimum of 4 partners from Less Developed and Transition EU Regions where the total number of partners is 7.
- No exception to this rule is possible.
To complete the partnerships, partners can come from all types of EU regions as well as from Norway, Switzerland or IPA countries.
- Each partnership can include 1 partner maximum from Norway, Switzerland or IPA countries.
In terms of assessment, it is recommended to build a diverse partnership, including cities from all types of EU regions, also from more developed regions.
The map showing the categorisation of EU Regions for 2021-2027 can be found here. The full list of regions eligible for funding from the ERDF and the ESF Plus and of Member States eligible for funding from the Cohesion Fund for the period 2021-2027 is available at this link here. It is also encouraged to include in the partnership, cities which have not been yet funded as Urban Innovative Action and/or are newcomers to URBACT.
other eligibility criteria
The beneficiary type “city” refers to the public local authority representing:
- Cities, municipalities, towns;
- Local agencies defined as public or semi-public organisations set up by a city, partially or fully owned by the city authority, responsible for the design and implementation of specific policies (economic development, energy supply, health services, transport, etc.)
- Infra-municipal tiers of government such as city districts and boroughs in cases where they are represented by a politico-administrative institution having competences for policy-making and implementation in the policy area covered by the URBACT network concerned in which they are willing to get involved;
- Metropolitan authorities and organised agglomerations in cases where they are represented by a politico-administrative institution having delegated competences for policy-making and implementation in the policy area covered by the URBACT network concerned.
There is no limit of population size for cities wishing to participate in URBACT activities. URBACT specifically supports urban authorities from the neighbourhood to functional urban area leveldepending on the topic covered and the impact that can be made. This includes urban-rural linkages and cross-border functional urban areas.
In addition to city partners, Innovation Transfer Networks can also include a limited number of other eligible beneficiaries (non-city partners). In the case of ITNs, the list of other eligible beneficiaries is defined as follows:
- Provincial, regional and national authorities, as far as urban issues are concerned;
- Universities and research centres, as far as urban issues are concerned;
- Managing Authorities of Cohesion Policy and EU Solidarity Funds.
In order to be eligible, non-city partners must be public authorities or Equivalent Public Bodies.
The URBACT IV programme area consists of:
- The 27 EU Member States
- Partner States Norway and Switzerland. Partners from Norway and Switzerland cannot make use of ERDF allocations. Partners from Switzerland can be co-financed at 50% by a national fund. Partners from Norway may participate in Innovation Transfer Networks with Norwegian national funds covering up to 50% of the costs.
- The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Partners from IPA countries can participate in operations using IPA funding, without receiving ERDF co-financing.
- Other countries. Partners from other countries, anywhere in the world, can participate with their own funding.
Note regarding participation of cities from Ukraine and Moldova: Following extension of the geographical area of the URBACT IV programme, in force as from 15th December 2023, it will be possible for cities from Ukraine and Moldova to be involved in the Innovation Transfer Networks. A specific process will be launched in the coming months, once Innovation Transfer Networks are approved, to include interested Ukrainian and Moldovan cities in the partnerships. Networks welcoming partners from these countries will receive additional dedicated budget.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
Projects applying to this Call for Proposals are required to follow a structured application procedure and will be subject to a selection process.
The submission of the Application package is paper-free. The application is submitted through the online system SYNERGIE-CTE. Detailed information on how to create and submitApplications through the online system SYNERGIE-CTE is provided in the Practical guide to SYNERGIE application.
To submit a network proposal, applicants shall complete the following steps:
- Complete and submit their Application through SYNERGIE-CTE in English. Only applications submitted using SYNERGIE-CTE will be accepted.
- Send the application package composed of the scan of the signed PDF document of the Application generated through SYNERGIE-CTE and all additional requested documents (a list of additional documents is provided below) by email to ITN@urbact.eu. The e-mail shall be received by the URBACT Joint Secretariat no later than 21st March 2024, 15:00 CET.
Applicants must send by email all of the following documents:
- Scanned signed PDF version of the submitted Application generated through SYNERGIE-CTE. It must be duly signed by the Project Coordinator in the Lead Partner city;
- Letters of commitment in English for ALL partners included in the partnership (one letter for the Lead Partner plus one letter for each Project Partner) using the templates provided in annexes 2 and 3 of this Call for Proposals. Letters of Commitment shall be signed by an elected representative of the partner institution;23
- Letters of intent (template to use provided in annex 4), duly filled in and signed by the 3 proposed Lead Experts;
- CV of the Project Coordinator at the Lead Partner;
- CV of the 3 proposed Lead Experts.
The ERDF’s co-financing rate for an Innovation Transfer Network is calculated at network level on the basis of the different co-financing rates for each partner
- Partners from “more developed regions” are co-financed up to 65% by ERDF.
- Partners from “transition regions” are co-financed up to 70% by ERDF.
- Partners from “less developed regions” are co-financed up to 80% by ERDF.
- Switzerland is a Partner State of the URBACT programme. Partners from Switzerland are co-financed up to 50% by a Swiss national fund.
- Norway is a partner state of the URBACT programme. Partners from Norway may participate in Action Planning Networks with Norwegian national funds covering up to 50% of the costs.
- Partners from IPA countries are co-financed by up to 95% by IPA Funds.
- Partners from other countries may participate in Innovation Transfer Networks at their own cost for this call.