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Innovation Ecosystem Building Playbook: Collaborations Unleashing the Power of Innovation 

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In today’s rapidly evolving world, innovation has emerged as the crucial driver of economic growth, social progress, and environmental sustainability. Creating robust and dynamic innovation ecosystems is vital to meet this potential. Business/Entrepreneurship support organisations (BSO/ESOs) and European Business and Innovation Centres (EU|BICs) in particular – incubators, accelerators, science and technology parks and innovation hubs – are vital actors within locally operating, interconnected innovation ecosystems.  By establishing networks of varied actors, relationships, and resources, all to valorise innovative ideas, regions, supported by their EU|BICs, have a better chance to create successful ventures that grow economies and address societal and environmental challenges. 

Challenges for innovation actors in European regions are multifaceted and require strategic approaches to overcome. There are phases with numerous hurdles, including regulatory complexities, market access barriers, and access-to-funding constraints. This may even be more prominent in interregional projects. To overcome challenges like these, innovation support actors support companies, mentor them, but also leverage their deep local knowledge to map out their region, understand its strengths and weaknesses, and design tailor-made support programmes. EU|BICs play a vital role in orchestrating and potentiating their ecosystem. They do so by filling in the gaps, bridging connections, and creating an (inter)regional network of collaborators, experts, and strategic partners who can bolster projects’ chances of securing a sustainable future.  

As the understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship evolves, a paradigm shift is taking place which emphasizes collaboration and collective efforts within ecosystems. This new approach underscores the integration of various stakeholders, including citizens, NGOs, political decision-makers, research institutions, universities, SMEs, startups, large corporations, and business support organisations. EU|BICs are connectors by nature, creating bridges between these various stakeholders while playing a pivotal role in supporting the creation and growth of innovation and entrepreneurship in an adaptive manner, that allows them to tailor new services to new realities. 

To build, nurture, and connect innovation ecosystems, a series of initiatives are being put in place, with EU|BICs and mission-aligned BSO/ESOs undertaking a central role because of their position at the core of the ecosystems and their different tools and services to support innovation and entrepreneurship. The European Union (EU) and other extra-national organisations recognise this role for EU|BICs and see it as key to positioning Europe as a global innovation leader through a comprehensive approach. 

Unlocking Sustainable Business Models: The SwitchMed Methodology by EU|BIC Berytech

EU|BIC Berytech proudly contributes to Lebanon’s innovation landscape by implementing the SwitchMed Methodology. This powerful tool fuels the Green Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, uniting BSOs, academia, researchers, donors, financial institutions, and government entities with international support programs.

Funded by the EU and implemented by renowned organisations like UNIDO, UNEP, and MedWaves, SwitchMed exemplifies the strength of partnerships. Berytech seamlessly integrates this methodology, fostering sustainable consumption and production practices for a circular economy.

We equip startups and BSOs with sustainable business development tools, including Green Business Models, Impact Measurement, Eco-design, and Access to Green Funds. Our integrated approach includes a comprehensive 5-day training programme utilising the business model canvas, accompanied by personalised coaching from local experts and 40 hours of mentoring through the SwitchMed incubation programme.

Many projects have been put in place with BSOs and ESOs at the centre, all to build cohesive innovation ecosystems in European regions, helping them lead this role and supporting the creation of new services that lead to regional sustainable growth. These projects nurture talent, create and formalise interregional collaborations, provide funding, invest in digital infrastructure, and remove barriers by helping establish harmonised regional innovation policies.  

EU|BIC FI.L.S.E. – Igniting Connections and Driving Innovation in Europe by Pietro de Martino

As the financial and economic development agency of the Liguria Region,EU|BIC FI.L.S.E. S.p.A. plays a crucial role in supporting the Ligurian economic system. We are proud to be selected as a local partner by the European Innovation Council (EIC), offering our services to EIC-funded innovators. Collaborating with the EIC allows us to expand our mandate and establish valuable connections at the European level. We now have access to the most promising entrepreneurial projects, technologies, and innovative companies within the EIC portfolio.

The EIC provides essential support to our projects and companies, connecting them with specialised partners and valuable resources. Through this partnership, we can guide our innovators in their fundraising journey, offering training and facilitating investor matchmaking. Joining forces with the EIC grants us access to a portfolio of over 6,000 EIC-funded companies and 430 research teams across Europe. We also encourage our EU|BIC community peers to become EIC partners. This thriving community offers unique opportunities for collaboration and services across various disruptive innovation areas.

F.I.L.S.E. is excited to embark on this journey as an EIC Ecosystem partner. We are confident that this collaboration will propel our innovators forward, providing them with crucial resources and elevating their projects to new heights of success. Together, we can drive economic growth, societal advancement, and technological breakthroughs within the European Innovation Ecosystem.

European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIHs) are an example of such initiatives. The project has established regional one-stop shops to support businesses and public sector organisations in meeting digital challenges. These hubs serve as orchestrators of digital transformation, connecting stakeholders and fostering innovation experiments. EU|BIC community members are themselves orchestrators of their regional innovation ecosystems making them key players within this ecosystem, providing valuable support to EDIHs. Currently, 42 EU|BIC community members contribute to 34 EDIHs across Europe. 

DIVA – Empowering Digital Transformation in Pays de la Loire

It is a game-changer for businesses, helping them thrive in the digital era. DIVA offers comprehensive support to small and medium-sized businesses, digital start-ups, and regional organisations, guiding them through digital transformation. It provides tailored assistance and fosters ethical AI use.

DIVA is backed by the Pays de la Loire Regional Council and co-financed by the European Commission. Its consortium includes three EU|BICs: Atlanpole, Angers Technopole and Laval Mayenne Technopole. DIVA brings together expertise to accelerate digital transformation. Businesses benefit from a wealth of resources, networks, and knowledge, enabling them to thrive in the digital landscape. Numerous success stories highlight the impact of DIVA, with businesses achieving remarkable growth and resilience. The support, expertise, and collaborative environment provided by DIVA and its partners are invaluable assets.

Together, we are shaping a future where digital innovation drives sustainable growth and success in Pays de la Loire.

Another example where the value of EU|BIC community members is being leveraged is in the exploration of space, security, defence, and deep tech innovation. The European Space Agency Business Incubation Centres (ESA BICs) are successful examples of collaboration and regional players being empowered to nurture successful startups in these domains. Originating from project collaborations between ESA and EBN, the ESA BICs natural partners with the EU|BIC community, jointly fueling technological advancements and supporting ventures working on ground-breaking innovations.  

Unlocking Innovation in Space: EU|BIC Instituto Pedro Nunes, Jorge Pimenta

I am thrilled to share about the synergies we have explored with the European Space Agency (ESA). Our mission is to promote innovation and technology transfer by bridging the gap between the scientific, technological, and business sectors.

At EU|BIC IPN, we specialise in incubating and accelerating startups that leverage space technologies. As the coordinating centre for ESA’s Business Incubation Centre in Portugal, we provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for space opportunities and the repurposing of space technology. Our goal is to bring space knowledge down to Earth, inspiring its application in new and diverse fields.

We also manage the ESA Business Application in Portugal, supporting companies in their feasibility studies to identify sustainable applications and services using space technologies. Through this user-driven service, we connect entrepreneurs with competitive tenders and open competitions, providing funding of up to 100% depending on the call. Additionally, we facilitate demonstration projects for the implementation of pre-operational services.

By combining our EU|BIC and ESA BIC mandates, we offer a diverse range of services to our companies and ecosystem, fostering internationalisation and increasing the technological intensity of regional businesses. We invite entrepreneurs to look upward and discover the limitless possibilities that satellites offer as a solution to challenges here on Earth.

EU|BIC Innovation Ecosystem

In the pursuit of thriving European and regional innovation landscapes, it’s imperative to harness the power of collaboration and collective action. As we navigate this transformative era, BSO/ESOs, EU|BICs stand as pivotal connectors, fostering synergies among stakeholders and catalysing entrepreneurial success. To delve deeper into the intricacies of building resilient innovation ecosystems, explore the EU|BIC Innovation Ecosystem Building Playbook. Embark on a journey of discovery and empowerment, shaping a future where innovation fuels sustainable growth and prosperity for all. 

Download the Playbook ↗

Get the playbook. Become a better innovation ecosystem builder.

Foreword to the Playbook

Togetherwe are paving the way for sustainable growth.

Specialisation for Inclusive Innovation ↗

While challenges are global, they should also be tackled locally.

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