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  1. An institution, body, office or agency established by or based on the Treaty on European Union and the Treaties establishing the European Communities.

    All education and training facilities for people of different age groups.

    An intergovernmental organization having legal personality under public international law or a specialized agency established by such an international organization. An international organization, the majority of whose members are Member States or Associated Countries and whose main objective is to promote scientific and technological cooperation in Europe, is an International Organization of European Interest.

    A person with legal rights and obligations. Unlike a legal entity, a natural person does not have a legal act (e.g. association, limited liability company, etc.).

    An NPO is an institution or organization which, by virtue of its legal form, is not profit-oriented or which is required by law not to distribute profits to its shareholders or individual members. An NGO is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that does not represent business interests. Pursues a common purpose for the benefit of society.

    A partnership, corporation, person, or agency that is for-profit and not operated by the government.

    Any government or other public administration, including public advisory bodies, at the national, regional or local level.

    A research institution is a legal entity established as a non-profit organization whose main objective is to conduct research or technological development. A college/university is a legal entity recognized by its national education system as a university or college or secondary school. It may be a public or private institution.

    A microenterprise, a small or medium-sized enterprise (business) as defined in EU Recommendation 2003/361. To qualify as an SME for EU funding, an enterprise must meet certain conditions, including (a) fewer than 250 employees and (b) an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million and/or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding EUR 43 million. These ceilings apply only to the figures for individual companies.

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  1. Governance, partnership: Projects aimed at increasing the application of multilevel and transnational or cross-border governance, designing and testing appropriate governance structures and mechanisms. Also cooperation between public institutions on any theme.

    Innovation capacity and awareness-raising: Actions that increase a person’s or organisation’s capacity for innovation (not innovation as such), and that establish the capacity to diffuse and apply innovation; projects that stimulate innovation in different areas and innovation capacities; strengthening and empowering of innovation networks.

    Institutional cooperation and cooperation networks: Projects working on the improvement of institutional cross-border co-operation and capacities, on renewing and simplifying administrative management through long term cooperation between institutions (e.g. Euregion), on establishing and sharing regional knowledge and intercultural understanding and cohesion. It also deals with cooperations between universities, health care facilities, schools and sports organisations, as well as with management and capacity building.

    Activities focussing on agricultural products, organic farming, horticulture, as well as forest management and wood products; furthermore the development of the food sector, food chains, organic food production, and seafood products and any topics related to animals and fishing.

    Agriculture and fisheries and forestry: Projects focussing on agricultural products (i.e. fruits, meat, olives, etc.), organic farming, horticulture, as well as forest management and wood products. Also the development of the agro-food sector, food chains, organic food production, and seafood products. Any topics related to animals (i.e. health, management) and fishing (i.e. sustainable fishery, aquaculture).

    Soil and air quality: Projects that deal with any topic against soil and air pollution, except water pollution, for example, reduction of soil and air contamination, pollution-management systems, but also prevention and eradication of soil erosion, new ways of improving air quality (also indoors) and soil/air knowledge in general.

    Climate change and biodiversity projects assisting mitigation and adaption to climate change and environmental impacts of climate change. Development of low carbon technologies and strategies, reduction of CO2 emissions from all sectors. Promotion of biodiversity, new instruments to enhance biodiversity and natural protection.

    Soil and air quality projects that deal with any topic against soil and air pollution, except water pollution, for example, reduction of soil and air contamination, pollution-management systems, but also prevention and eradication of soil erosion, new ways of improving air quality (also indoors) and soil/air knowledge in general.

    Water management projects about management and distribution of drinking water, integrated sustainable water management, monitoring systems for water supply and improving drinking water quality; also water treatment (wastewater), in particular, innovative technologies to improve wastewater, treatments in the purification of industrial and domestic wastewater and water reuse policies. Waterways, lakes and rivers: This deals with any topics on waterways, lakes and rivers, from improving water quality, protecting and developing of ecosystems or sustainable wetland management.

    Activities that protect, promote and enhance cultural and natural heritage, increase the attractiveness through preservation and valorisation of common cultural and natural heritage in a sustainable manner, and improve and develop cultural and natural heritage objects, services and products. Cultural heritage management, art and culture, (maritime) heritage routes, access to cultural and natural heritage. Also all topics on cultural services such as festivals, concerts, art workshops.

    Cultural heritage and arts projects that protect, promote and enhance cultural and natural heritage, increase the attractiveness through preservation and valorisation of common cultural and natural heritage in a sustainable manner, and improve and develop cultural and natural heritage objects, services and products. Cultural heritage management, art and culture, (maritime) heritage routes, access to cultural and natural heritage. Also all topics on cultural services such as festivals, concerts, art workshops.

    Tourism projects dealing with the promotion of natural assets, and the protection and development of natural heritage, as well as increasing the touristic attractiveness through the better use of natural, cultural and historical heritage. Also projects about improved tourist services/products, development of ecotourism models, tourism development strategies.

    Sustainable management of natural resources projects focussing on the protection, promotion and valorization, and sustainable management and conservation of natural areas (habitats, geo parks, protected areas, etc.). Also projects focussing on preserving and enhancing cultural and natural heritage and landscape, as well as protecting the marine environment.

    Projects on waste management (innovative services and strategies), ecological waste treatment, treatment techniques/systems; waste disposal and recycling (improvement of recycling, innovative recycling technologies, recovery of organic waste, repair & re-use centres and networks); also prevention of pollution and pollution control (ecological and circular economy, marine littering, etc.).

    Labour market and employment: creating employment opportunities and/or optimising jobs, academic (un)employment and job mobility, workforce attraction and improvement of employment conditions for different groups.

    SME and entrepreneurship: strengthening SME capacities, boosting entrepreneurial activities in different sectors and for different groups, supporting social entrepreneurship, creating business support/advisory systems for start-ups/spin-offs/incubators, improving the competitiveness of SMEs, and promoting new business processes.

    Community integration and common identity projects that build identity, create a more cohesive society, promote positive relations through an increased provision of shared spaces and services.

    Demographic change and immigration is about projects tackling major societal challenges like demographic change in different areas and migration, in particular, aging society (active aging, best agers, silver economy strategies) and related new public services (adaptation of key services and infrastructure), social and spatial segregation, and brain drain. Also all topics on migration (policy tools, strategic planning, integration).

    All projects where ICT has a significant role, including tailor-made ICT solutions in different fields, as well as digital innovation hubs, open data, Internet of Things; ICT access and connecting (remote) areas with digital infrastructure and services; services and applications for citizens (e-health, e-government, e-learning, e-inclusion, etc.); services and applications for companies (e-commerce, networking, digital transformation, etc.).

    This is about the mitigation and management of risks and disasters, and the anticipation and response capacity towards the actors regarding specific risks and management of natural disasters, for example, prevention of flood and drought hazards, forest fire, strong weather conditions, etc.. It is also about risk assessment and safety.

    Education and training projects on expanding educational opportunities, reducing barriers in the field of education, improving higher education and lifelong learning, training and labour mobility, educational networks, higher vocational education, common learning programmes.

    Topics on energy management, energy-saving methods, evaluating energy efficiency measurements, energy rehabilitation/efficiency in buildings / public infrastructure, promotion of energy efficiency, cooperation among experienced energy efficiency firms, institutions and local administrations, co-generation.

    Projects focussing on wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric, geothermal and other renewable energy, increasing the production of sustainable renewable energy and improving research capacities in biomass. Also projects focussing on storage and management of renewable energy, new technologies, sustainable regional bioenergy policies and financial Instruments for investments on renewable energy.

    Social projects concerning people with disabilities and excluded groups; enhancement of the capacity of children, young people, women and elderly; creation of infrastructure to improve access for disabled people, integration of socially vulnerable people; innovate in the care of victims of gender violence, social inclusion of women, etc.

    This deals with the development of health and social services and improved accessibility and efficiency for different groups (elderly, children, etc.). It is also about new healthcare models and medical diagnosis and treatments (dementia, cancer, diabetes, etc.), hospitals, care management, and rare diseases, as well as improving wellbeing and promoting sports.

    Projects about (organised) crime, efficient and secure borders, such as enhancing the effectiveness of the police in the prevention of drug crimes, the development of safety services, or tackling security and organised crime issues.

    Activities related to:

    • Transport and mobility covering all sorts of transport (incl. urban transport) and mobility.
    • Improving transport connections dealing with traffic and/or transport connections, rehabiliation/modernisation, better connectivity, improving accessibility/connections, but also public transport.
    • Multimodal transport and logistics and freight transport focusing on using different means of transport, developing multimodal connections, optimising intermodal transport chains; offering multimodal logistics solutions and providing access to clean, efficient and multimodal transport corridors and hubs; establishing cooperation among logistic centres and developing multimodal mobility strategies.

    Activities related to:

    • urban development, such as planning and design of cities and urban areas, urban renewal, urban-rural links (climate, sustainable mobility, water efficiency, participation, sustainable land use, smart cities, public urban areas, regeneration)
    • regional planning and development, such as the implementation of regional development policies/instruments and programmes, sustainable land use management plans, integrated regional action plans, spatial planning, and marine protected area management.
    • rural and peripheral development, referring to remote, sparsely populated areas, rural community development, and rural economics, in particular access to remote areas and policies for rural areas.
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Call key data

Interregional Innovation Investments Strand 1

Funding Program

Interregional Innovation Investments

Call number




17.10.2023 17:00

Funding rate


Call budget

€ 31,000,000.00

Estimated EU contribution per project

between € 2,000,000.00 and € 10,000,000.00

Link to the call

Link to the submission

Call content

short description

The overall objective of the Strand 1 call is to provide financial and advisory support for interregional innovation investments in shared and complementary smart specialisation areas along European value chains.

Call objectives

Applications under this call for proposals must address one of the following thematic priorities linked to the burning challenges identified in the New European Innovation Agenda. Each project application under this call must address one thematic priority and at least one burning challenge. Applicants wishing to apply for more than one thematic priority, must submit a separate proposal.

  • Digital transition
  • Green transition
  • Smart manufacturing

Expected effects and impacts

Digital transition

  • Short-term:
    • Innovative technologies tested and adopted by companies and public administration
    • Deployment of innovative solutions improving businesses confidence, competences and means to digitalise and grow
    • Contribution to digitisation and health systems transformation, through various types of innovation and the supply of IT services
  • Medium-term:
    • Increased companies’ productivity and efficiency
    • Improved user-friendly, accessible and interoperable public services
    • Improved level of digital skills
    • Improved EU innovation capacity and competitiveness
    • Innovation diffusion.
  • Long-term:
    • Improved way of living and of doing business
    • Increased social and territorial cohesion as well as personal well-being
    • Improved education and vocational training systems (indirectly).

Green transition

  • Short-term:
    • Deployment of innovative solutions compared to existing technologies/solutions;
    • Uptake of technologically/economically reliable and viable solutions on the market.
  • Medium-term:
    • Creating new market opportunities for EU companies;
    • Reinforcing the capacity of regions to invest, joining forces around shared S3 investment priorities (interregional investments);
    • Innovation diffusion.
  • Long-term:
    • Reinforcing/reshaping EU value chains whilst increasing EU competitiveness in global markets;
    • Unlocking the innovation potential of EU regions/countries;
    • Contributing to the European Green Deal objectives;

Smart manufacturing

  • Short-term:
    • Deploying new green and digital technologies fostering the growth of Europe’s manufacturing sector
    • Innovative technologies adopted by SMEs
  • Medium-term:
    • Making the EU industry more efficient and sustainable
    • Reinforcing the capacity of regions to co-invest together, joining forces on common S3 investment priorities (interregional investments).
    • Innovation diffusion
  • Long-term:
    • Reinforcing/reshaping EU value chains whilst increasing the competitiveness of the EU in global markets.
    • Unlocking the innovation potential of EU regions/countries.

read more

Expected results

Digital transition

The present call for proposals under this thematic priority encourages applications in one or more or a combination of the following investment areas (non-exhaustive list):

  • Digital economy innovation
  • Digital transformation of the public administration
  • Digitalisation of healthcare

Green transition

The present call for proposals under this thematic priority encourages applications in one or more or a combination of the following investment areas (non-exhaustive list):

  • Innovative investments in decarbonisation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to improve air quality, health and wellbeing;
  • Innovative investments in SMART cities;
  • Innovative business investments related to smart, sustainable/efficient transport solutions and/or alternative fuels;
  • Investments in the management of natural resources, including the use of recycled materials, especially construction materials, plastics and textiles, to stimulate demand for secondary markets raw materials;
  • Business investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency to make industry more sustainable;
  • Business investments related to energy efficiency in buildings;
  • Business investments related to a sustainable blue economy, contributing to the coastal protection;
  • Business investments in circular economy to replicate and scale up successful circular economy solutions, which can generate EU added value;
  • Investments in bioeconomy, efficient and sustainable agriculture and forestry, innovation in marine/ maritime and inland water sustainable solutions.
  • Investments in sustainable business models and alternative modes of production and consumption (e.g. leasing, repair, modular design, industrial symbiosis…).

Smart manufacturing

The present call for proposals under this thematic priority supports interregional innovation investments for the uptake of new or improved manufacturing solutions, as well as for supporting industry to face the challenge of digitalisation and to promote the shift towards a more environmentally sustainable production (zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment). The present call for proposals under this priority encourages applications in one or a combination of the following intervention areas (a non-exhaustive list):

  • Demonstration processes, i.e. helping new products to reach the market faster or having more efficient and sustainable processes adopted by the industry.
  • Valorisation of research results and practical applications for innovation diffusion. This might include the active involvement of ecosystems and the co-creation process with stakeholders and end-users.
  • Connecting or making complementary use of testing and demonstration facilities at interregional level. In this framework, synergies with circularity hubs are encouraged.
  • Improving the use of natural resources and in the reuse of materials, promoting circularity models (de- and remanufacturing) and investments in carbon neutrality.
  • Specific implementation (including funding) strategies, ensuring the participation of all stakeholders (industry, SMEs, local authorities, educational institutions and civil society).
  • Implementation of interregional demonstration cases to test and replicate the results.
  • Innovation diffusion and involvement of SMEs in EU value chains.

read more

Eligibility Criteria

Regions / countries for funding

EU Member States, Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT)

eligible entities

Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)

Mandatory partnership


Project Partnership

Proposals must be submitted by a consortium of applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities), which complies with the following conditions:

  • at least five independent legal entities established in five different regions of at least three eligible countries.
  • at least two legal entities must come from less developed regions.
  • the consortium coordinator must be a:
    • Non-profit organisation including research bodies and innovation intermediate organisation (i.e. a cluster organisation, an innovation agency etc.) or
    • Member State Organisation acting under indirect management or
    • Public authority.

Specific cases:

Exceptional funding — Entities from other countries (not listed above) are exceptionally eligible, if the granting authority considers their participation essential for the implementation of the action.

Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person.

International organisations — International organisations are eligible. The rules on eligible countries do not apply to them.

Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offerguarantees for the protection of the EU financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons.

EU bodies — EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.

Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. Please note that if the action will be implemented by the members, they should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible).

Financial support to third parties is allowed for grants under the following conditions:

  • the maximum amount of financial support for each third party (‘recipient’) may not exceed EUR 60 000;
  • the recipients must be SMEs that are established in the regions covered by the consortium or in another less developed region or in an outermost region;
  • the calls must be open, published widely and conform to EU standards concerning transparency, equal treatment, conflict of interest and confidentiality;
  • the calls must remain open for at least 2 months;
  • the outcome of the call must be published on the participants’ websites, including a description of the selected projects, award dates, project durations, and final recipient legal names and countries
  • The costs for financial support to third parties cannot exceed 30% of the total eligible costs.

other eligibility criteria

I3 business investment cases have a minimum TRL 6 and have the ambition to facilitate demonstration and to accelerate market uptake and commercialisation.

At least 70% of the total eligible costs must be allocated to investments in companies, with a focus on SMEs.

In line with the New European Innovation Agenda, this call for proposals seeks to bring together regions at different levels of development and less and more innovative regions, which share an ambition to become Regional Innovation Valleys and reinforce coordination of research and innovation activities towards EU priorities and the most burning challenges facing the EU (namely reducing the reliance on fossil fuels, increasing global food security, mastering the digital transformation including cybersecurity, improving health care and achieving circularity). This call is about accelerating the development and deployment of innovation, including deep tech innovation.

Applicants are therefore encouraged to actively engage with the wider community including innovation ecosystems and (future) Regional Innovation Valleys, in particular in the framework of the Commission Smart Specialisation Community of Practice and relevant Thematic Smart Specialisation Partnerships.

This call for proposals is launched in coordination with the 2023-2024 Horizon Europe European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) Work Programme on Implementing co-funded action plans for connected Regional Innovation Valleys.

Under this call for proposals regions will be recognised as Regional Innovation Valleys under the following conditions:

  • the competent regional or national institution or body, responsible for the management of the smart specialisation strategy (S3) confirms in the endorsement letter (see section 5) that its region wants to be recognised as a Regional Innovation Valley; and
  • the grant agreement of the I3 project has been fully signed.

Additional information


Administration & Governance, Institutional Capacity & Cooperation, 
Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Soil quality, 
Air Quality, Biodiversity & Environment, Climate & Climate Change, Water quality & management, 
Circular Economy, Natural Resources, 
Competitiveness of Enterprises, Employment/Labour Market, SME & entrepreneurship, 
Digitalisation, Digital Society, ICT, 
Disaster Prevention, Resilience, Risk Management, 
Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy , 
Health, Social Services, Sports, 
Justice, Safety & Security, 
Rural & Urban Development/Planning

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)

project duration

between 18 and 36 months

Additional Information

Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:

  • Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants (future coordinator, beneficiaries and affiliated entities) and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
  • Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
  • Part C contains additional project data (to be filled in directly online)
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (templates available to be downloaded from the Submission System, completed, assembled and re-uploaded):
    • Detailed budget table
    • CVs (short outlines) of core project team
    • Outline of a project dissemination and exploitation plan
    • Letter of support (endorsement letter from the competent regional or national institution or body, responsible for the management of the smart specialisation strategy (S3)). The purpose of the endorsement letter is to ensure that the investment priority identified in the I3 proposal is coherent with the priorities identified in the S3 strategy.
      • The project coordinator must submit the support letter from the competent regional or national institution or body, responsible for the management of the smart specialisation strategy (S3) before the call deadline
      • Members of the consortium must submit the support letter from their S3 authority provided that the corresponding region agrees to be identified as “Regional Innovation Valley” 

Proposals are limited to maximum 60 pages (Part B).

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