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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.

Fostering connected regional deep-tech innovation valleys across the EU

28 March 2023

Opening of the call for expression of interest

17 May 2023

Opening of the calls EIE

17 October 2023

Closing of the calls

This action brings together less and more innovative regions to address 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.   

It builds on Smart Specialisation Strategies and, where applicable, on the participation in the Partnerships for Regional Innovation (PRIs) a pilot involving 74 EU territories (including 63 regions - NUTS2) that was launched by the European Commission and the European Committee of the Regions in April 2022.  This action will take account of existing efforts aimed at reinforcing and connecting industrial and regional innovation ecosystems. This includes I3 under Cohesion Policy; Startup Villages as part of long-term Vision for Rural Areas policy; Single Market Programme; and Horizon Europe including European Innovation Ecosystems, Startup Europe, Widening Participation and Strengthening the European Research Area, Missions, and the work of the EIT’s Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) and RIS. Project implementation launch by Q4 2023. 

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



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. 

Launch Scaleup 100

1-2 June 2023

EIC Scale Up 100 announcement to MS


Briefing session on the selection process

A new ‘EIC Scale Up 100’ action will identify a cohort of a hundred deep tech start-ups with the potential to scale up as global leaders or potential unicorns from the portfolio of the EIC as well as other EU programmes. By mid-2023, these companies will start receiving enhanced support to develop their strategy and leadership team, protect IP, connect to strategic investors and partners, expand internationally and obtain links to national scale up support. Besides direct support to companies, the initiative will also share best practice amongst Member States and across Europe-wide networks.  

The EIC Scale Up 100 action is funded under the EIC WP 2022. The project is expected to kick-off in Q2 2023.

Relevant links

EIC Scale Up 100 – info session