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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.

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    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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Program key data

European Urban Initiative - Innovative Actions

Parent programEuropean Urban Initiative
Link to the

Content of program

short description

The European Urban Initiative is an essential tool to support cities of all sizes, to build capacity and knowledge, to support innovation and develop transferable and scalable innovative solutions to urban challenges of EU relevance.

program objectives

As one of the most urbanised territories in the world, the European Union is aware that urban areas are strategic places to address both threats and opportunities related to sustainable development. Urban areas serve as drivers for the local and global economy, innovation, science, culture and education, as well as places where evolving spatial, demographic, economic, environmental, social and technological challenges emerge. However, complex challenges and transitions cannot be solved without strong, innovative thinking at all levels of policy and action.

The reinforced sustainable urban development dimension of the Cohesion policy is a conviction that EU cities have to be involved in the design and implementation of policy responses to their local challenges. There is strong evidence suggesting that the nature and scale of the challenges faced by urban authorities demand much more than traditional policies and services. Urban authorities need to be bold and innovative in designing and testing new services and products to respond to increasingly complex and interconnected local challenges related to sustainable urban development.

However, whilst research on urban issues is well developed, these potential solutions are not always put into practice, since urban authorities might be reluctant to use their own financial resources to fund ideas that are new, unproven and hence, risky. This limits the capacities of urban authorities for experimentation and testing. Consequently, this lack of experimentation at urban scale (in ‘real life’) is one of the reasons why the European Commission continues supporting urban innovations through the EUI-IA.

The overall ambition of this instrument is to foster the deployment of proof-tested urban innovations across the EU and to provide opportunities for cities, as enablers of innovation, to take the risk to turn ambitious and creative ideas into pilot projects that can be tested in real urban settings. In addition, this instrument now offers a structured and systematic transfer mechanism to ensure the knowledge generated from successful innovative actions is effectively transferred and replicated to other urban realities across Europe.

The ultimate goal is to allow other urban actors and cities across Europe to develop the knowledge base and confidence that is needed for subsequent up-scaling and replicating of innovative solutions. These results are to inspire the use of mainstream Cohesion policy programmes in urban areas with already proof-tested innovations.

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Expected effects and impacts

EUI-IA provides two levels of support:

  1. Funding for the testing and transfer of your urban innovative solution. EUI-IA co-finances up to 80% of your project’s activities and can provide you with up to €5 million European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) to implement your project.

  1. Capturing, sharing and transferring the knowledge that your project will generate. EUI is interested in understanding what worked in the implementation of the innovative solution and what did not work, in order to draw lessons, capture the knowledge and share it with urban policymakers and practitioners across Europe. Therefore, following the implementation of the innovative actions, EUI will collect and share the results from the experimentations of the projects. This will feed into transfer activities, with the aim of fostering innovation capacities and knowledge building for all EU urban areas and to mainstream innovative solutions in sustainable urban development.

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Expected results

Based on calls for proposals organised on pre-defined topics proposed by the European Commission, the selected Innovative Actions projects are:


Innovative Actions support pilot projects that have never been tested anywhere else in Europe. Such projects are highly experimental and hence risky, consequently not likely to be funded by traditional or mainstream sources of funding. The innovativeness of the proposed solution can be understood as an evolutionary approach where the innovation lies in the new elements added to the existing idea, or as a revolutionary approach with completely new solutions never tested before in the policy field concerned in the EU. 


The Partnership must be relevant to address the identified urban challenges and to implement the proposed solution. Participation and co-creation with Partners, relevant stakeholders, and target groups, are key for the development and implementation of genuinely innovative and experimental projects.


The Innovative Actions implemented must be measurable to draw meaningful conclusions regarding the added value of the project in the policy area concerned. A robust methodology is necessary to measure expected impacts, as well as clear and quantified results to capture the expected change in the local situation resulting from the project.

Transferable and scalable

The selected solutions address urban that can be relevant to other urban authorities in Europe and applicable to other local contexts. Based on lessons drawn from the project and shared to a wider audience of policy makers and practitioners, the Innovative actions have the potential of being scaled and transferred to other urban areas across Europe.

Of good quality

Innovative Actions proposals must show robustness and operational readiness. They must prove to be justified, realistic, consistent, and coherent. They should also be ready to be managed effectively, implemented swiftly, and demonstrate value for money.

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Regions / countries for fundingEU Member States
eligible entities
Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs),  Education and training institution,  Research Institution incl. University,  Other,  Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO),  Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME),  Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit)
Mandatory partnershipYes
Project Partnership
  • Innovative actions are led by Urban authorities - or a grouping of urban authorities - classified as cities, towns, or suburbs, with a total population of a least 50 000 inhabitants, located in one of the 27 EU Member States.
  • Given the complexity of urban challenges, Delivery Partners  are needed to actively support urban authorities in the design and implementation of their innovative solution. A relevant and complementary consortium of Partners should be mobilised from the local ecosystem to bring thematic expertise and knowledge on the specific policy issue to be addressed. Partnerships should be as diverse as possible , ideally reflecting the quadruple helix (i.e. public authorities, industry, academia and civil society).
  • As part of the transnational transfer component embedded in EUI-IA projects, Transfer Partners – being EU municipalities from other countries interested in learning from the experimentation and sharing similar urban challenges – can apply during project implementation to follow the processes and results of the project. They belong to the Partnership, with the aim to prepare the process of replicating the tested solution, increase their capacity for implementing innovative solutions, and provide the Main Urban Authority with an external perspective.
  • Any other urban practitioners and stakeholders interested in the outcome of Innovative Actions can take inspiration from our innovative projects directly on the project pages or on the EUI Knowledge Sharing Platform.
other eligibility criteria

Each individual EUI-IA project will benefit the EUI as a whole. The underlying principle of EUI is to create an effective value-chain between its different strands - Innovative actions, Capacity building  and Knowledge building  - to achieve stronger coordination, synergies and complementarities between the urban support tools of the Cohesion policy.

EUI-IA will collect and share results from experimentations to foster innovation capacities and knowledge building for all EU urban areas. The expected impact is the increased innovation capacities and profiles of European cities of all sizes, independently of their geographical location or demographic character. Both the thematic and the horizontal knowledge of experimenting and replicating tested solutions will feed into the Knowledge Sharing Platform and the capitalisation activities, as well as into the activities of the EUI capacity building. Different mechanisms will be set up to ensure the capitalisation and transfer of the knowledge – networks of cities in cooperation with URBACT IV, peer learning, involvement of the urban authorities in the activities of the Urban Development Network, as well as activities undertaken by Urban Contact Points.

Additional information

Topics Administration & Governance, Institutional Capacity & Cooperation,  Arts & Culture, Cultural Heritage, Tourism,  Circular Economy, Natural Resources,  Digitalisation, Digital Society, ICT,  Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy ,  Rural & Urban Development/Planning
Relevance for EU Macro-RegionEUSAIR - 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)
ContactEuropean Urban Initiative (EUI) Permanent Secretariat
+33 (0)3 61 76 59 34