Interregional Innovation Investment supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

SMEs, Large Enterprises, Government, Cities, Communities & NGOs, Knowledge Centers
Innovation, Growth
International Cooperation , Partnerships with Industry and Member States


indicative EU budget of EUR 0,5 bn

Description  Go to funding source website


Interregional Innovation Investment initiative


Policy field

Cohesion Policy, Digital Policy, Industry Policy, Research and innovation policy and related policies (including digital single market, agriculture, space, circular economy, energy union, growth and investment plan, internal market, etc).



The 2021-2027 period will seek to reinforce interregional cooperation for innovation as outlined in the Commission Communication “Strengthening Innovation in Europe’s regions”.
In this context, the Commission proposed a new Interregional Innovation Investment initiative aimed at helping actors involved in smart specialisation strategies (S3) to cluster together, scale up and bring innovation to the European market.

The new I3 Instrument should be implemented under ERDF with an indicative EU budget of EUR 0,5 bn


The ambition is to mobilise public private investment, leveraging the impact of the available budget. The objectives of the new initiative are:

  • Accelerating innovation and transfer of research results, translating innovation into concrete products, services and applications, responding to a clear need of customers and citizens.
  • Encouraging close-to-market investments involving innovative products and services through the deployment of new technologies or processes. While the value chain to be developed may be in traditional sectors, as a minimum the product or process should be new to market.
  • Bringing research results to the market helping companies to implement mature joint innovation projects (TRL6-8) in view of commercialization and scaling up.
  • Exploring and strengthening complementarities between different EU, national and regional instruments.
  • Mobilising public/private investors, de-risking private investment and leveraging the impact of EU funding.
  • Developing a pipeline of interregional investments, formalised in concrete business and investment plans, reshaping EU value chains.


I3 intends to support regional innovation stakeholders, well integrated in the regional innovation ecosystems, providing funding for mature joint innovation projects organised in value-chain investment portfolios.


Structure of the new instrument

I3 proposal foresees two strands with an approximately equal share of financial resources:

  • Strand 1 targeting well-developed ecosystems and focusing on the part of the value chains where weakness or market failures are identified (fragmentation, insufficient interconnection, financial or technological gap, interregional valley of death for the uptake of innovative technologies) and a solution could come from the interregional triple/quadruple helix cooperation.
  • Strand 2 targeting less developed regions and focusing on reinforcing the regional innovation ecosystems, unlocking under utilised capacities, which could reinforce EU value chains.


What does I3 want to achieve?

  • More interregional industrial cooperation mobilised via bottom up mechanisms and unlocking the innovation potential highlighted by RIS 3 strategies. In particular, priority should be given to innovative cooperation able to advance the green and digital transitions.
  • Strengthening the links between research, innovation and businesses at interregional level.
  • Strengthening the EU on the global stage, investing in strategic and future-oriented business areas where, boosting EU competitive advantage and value chains resilience can generate growth (across industrial sectors, value chains and regions).
  • Synergies and complementarities with other initiatives at EU, national and regional level, for example:
    • Horizon
    • DSM,
    • Space Program,
    • Single Market Program,
    • Life,
    • Creative Europe
    • European Defence Fund
    • Next Generation EU
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