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Research and innovation

Flagship 3: Accelerating and strengthening innovation in European Innovation Ecosystems across the EU and addressing the innovation divide

About the Flagship

This flagship aims to accelerate innovation and unlock excellence across the EU through various tools. It focuses on creating the basis for the emergence of connected regional innovation valleys across the EU, notably involving regions with a lower innovation performance, by building on strategic areas of regional strength and specialisation, in support of key EU priorities.

Upcoming events


Fostering connected regional deep-tech innovation valleys across the EU

18 September 2023

Closing of the Call for expression of interest

17 October 2023

Closing of the calls

Regional Innovation Valleys will bring together less and more innovative regions with a view to addressing 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 healthcare and achieving circularity.

The Commission intends to identify up to 100 regions who are committed to enhance the coordination and directionality of their R&I investment and policies, at regional level.

With an overall commitment of € 170 million for the Regional Innovation Valleys initiative, we launched, on 17 May, the first calls worth € 60 million Horizon Europe and € 62 million from the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) instrument under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for these valleys

On 28 of March 2023, Commissioners Gabriel and Ferreira together with the European Committee of the Regions launched a call for expression of interest inviting European regions to become regional innovation valleys.

The call for expression of interest will:

  • Enable regions to express their interest to become regional innovation valleys and work together based but not limited on their smart specialisation strategies, meeting specific local challenges and needs, whilst contributing to the Union’s strategic priorities. Regions are invited to indicate in which innovation domain (food security, renewable energy, circular economy, digital transition, healthcare system, other) they would like to strengthen their R&I investments and policies and engage in interregional cooperation.
  • Help interested regions to identify potentially relevant partners, by facilitating matchmaking and interconnections among those regions who are committed towards the same objectives. Together, these regions could join up to prepare joint innovation plans to constitute connected regional innovation valleys.

The call for expression of interest will remain open until 18 September 2023.

Matchmaking Event for the territories interested to become Regional Innovation Valleys (RIVs)

Regional Innovation Valleys matchmaking map

Relevant links

EIE co-fund FAQ

Learn more about the difference between the two calls, EIE ( under Horizon Europe) and I3 instrument (under ERDF)

Call for expression of interest FAQ

Recording of online info session  “Regional Innovation Valleys - calls for proposals”

Synergies between cohesion policy programmes and Horizon Europe


This action supported managing authorities of the cohesion synergies between cohesion policy programmes and Horizon Europe policy programmes, National Contact Points for Horizon Europe and project promoters to make a better use of opportunities to foster innovation in all regions. Through the integrated use of these key EU instruments, these synergies facilitated the deployment and uptake of advanced technologies funded through research and innovation programmes, and thereby increase their impact. The Commission notice of synergies between Horizon Europe and European Regional Development Fund programme.

Relevant links

Commission's note on synergies between Horizon Europe and the European Regional Development Fund programmes


Domain specific ecosystems

1 March 2023

Signature of the Hydrogen Valleys Declaration

18 April 2023

Call for proposals closure

May 2023

H2V.EU - 50+ EU hydrogen valleys presentation launch

As part of the REPowerEU Plan, the European Commission has committed to boosting breakthrough innovation in renewable and low carbon hydrogen, a key technology for breaking the reliance on fossil fuels. Drawing on a EUR 200 million top-up from Horizon Europe, the number of Hydrogen Valleys in the EU will, starting in the fourth quarter of 2022, be doubled to reach 50 by 2025. These will cover several hydrogen applications and combine into an integrated regional ecosystem covering the entire value chain, aligned to regional requirements. The existing hydrogen valleys established in the EU will also be connected with one another to accelerate the rollout of the hydrogen economy in the EU, with funding under the Connecting Europe Facility.

Relevant links

REPowering the EU with Hydrogen Valleys: Clean Hydrogen Partnership invests EUR 105.4 million for funding 9 Hydrogen Valleys across Europe

Mission Innovation Hydrogen Valley: Project locations



The Commission will establish ‘Innospace’, an AI-based open platform, to support the circulation of ideas and access to research results, highlight the demand and supply of innovative solutions, and connect stakeholders to facilitate collaboration. It will provide all stakeholders with information on innovation challenges and opportunities (technology and market trends, intellectual property, demand, etc.) and facilitate the identification of functionalities, services and funding opportunities, public or private, to support the translation of ideas into activities and projects. 

EIC Scaling Club under EIC Scale Up 100

Autumn 2023

Companies’ selection process

April 2024

Kick-off of the 1st cohort

June 2024

Kick-off of the 2nd cohort

October 2024 – April 2026

Investment and Partnering roadshow

Under the European Innovation Council Scale Up 100, the EIC is setting up an EIC Scaling Club, an exclusive community of 100 European high-growth deep-tech champions and future unicorns. The Club will engage companies in a pan-European network of scalers to share their peer experience and obtain exposure at the European level. It will provide the selected companies with tailored coaching and access to quality business partners such as corporates and investors.

The participating companies will come from the portfolio of EIC Awardees and other national and European innovation programmes or beyond. They will be selected based on the transformative solution of their deep technologies and growth performance while respecting the cohort’s geographical diversity and the gender balance of the leading teams.

Relevant links

EIC Scaling Club

EIC Scaling Club under EIC Scale Up 100 

Scaling up with the European Innovation Council: launch of the new initiative to support Europe’s future deep tech champions


Member States and Associated Countries actions supporting the New European Innovation Agenda

At the Competitiveness Council in December 2022, following the adoption of Council Conclusions on New European Innovation Agenda (NEIA), the Commission launched a call to governments to announce actions in support of the NEIA. This announcement was based on the understanding that full support and engagement from the Member States and Associated Countries is needed to ensure the implementation of the NEIA. 

The actions were gathered through the EIC Forum, a group of Member States and Associated Countries' public authorities and bodies in charge of innovation policies and programmes, with the aim of promoting coordination and dialogue on the development of the Union's innovation ecosystem.