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EBN Welcomes the Commission’s Funding for Regional Innovation Valleys, with 55+ EU|BICs Present

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Source: Press release ‘Commission funds Regional Innovation Valleys with €116 million to strengthen competitiveness and promote innovation’, European Commission, published 19 June 2024.

Brussels, 21 June 2024 – EBN applauds the European Commission’s recent funding allocation of €116 million for the Regional Innovation Valleys (RIVs) initiative, aimed at enhancing competitiveness and fostering innovation across the EU. In collaboration with the Commission, EBN actively promoted the expression of interest call for RIVs among its members.

Since the call launch until the announcement on 19 June 2024 by Commissioners Iliana Ivanova and Elisa Ferreira during the European Committee of the Regions plenary session, 151 regions were granted the RIV title, including over 55 RIVs with EU|BIC presence.

The Regional Innovation Valleys announced today exemplify European added value and demonstrate the strengths of place-based innovation to address the burning challenges of our time. By expanding their cooperation based on Smart Specialisation, the interconnected regions, including less developed ones, will be better equipped to strengthen Europe’s overall innovation performance while bridging the existing innovation divide.

Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms

It’s heartening to see the commitment of many regions in Europe to build on their strategic specialisations and enhance the coordination of their research and innovation investment and policies. Through Regional Innovation Valleys, we will help turn the diversity of the EU’s territories into a strength and facilitate collaboration to foster new EU value chains for Europe’s home-grown innovation. This marks a significant milestone in the progress of the New European Innovation Agenda.

Iliana Ivanova, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Key Contributions and Support from EBN

As a network representing 175+ EU|BIC (European Business and Innovation Centres) members in Europe and beyond, EBN is poised to significantly contribute to the continuous development of regional innovation capacities. The interconnected ecosystem of EU|BICs across 35 countries is strategically positioned to collaborate with the 151 RIVs, fostering a cohesive and robust European innovation landscape.

During the high-level expert workshop ‘Collaborative Models to Accelerate Europe’s Innovation Capacity’ in Brussels on 26 March this year, EBN and its members’ extensive expertise in regional innovation was prominently highlighted. The workshop underscored the critical role of Entrepreneurship Support Organisations (ESOs) such as EU|BICs in orchestrating regional innovation ecosystems. To enhance this role, EBN advocates for:

  1. Systemic and Place-Based Innovation Frameworks: Implementing frameworks that emphasize collaborative governance models and involve ESOs in leadership roles.
  2. Enhanced Structural and Financial Support: Developing robust support structures for ESOs, including dedicated funding and capacity-building programs.
  3. Empowerment of ESOs as Catalysts: Recognizing ESOs as orchestrators of open innovation and cross-sector collaboration.

EBN is committed to leveraging its members’ capabilities to drive systemic and transformative changes in regional innovation capacities, addressing complex societal and environmental challenges facing Europe today.

Future Directions

EBN commends the regions dedicated as RIVs and looks forward to the opportunities for shared learning and collaboration. As we collectively strive to enhance Europe’s value gain from regional collaboration, EBN emphasises the need for tailored measures to meet the diverse needs of regional innovation ecosystems.

In conclusion, EBN supports the European Commission’s RIVs initiative through its extensive well-connected network of EU|BICs. By fostering innovation literacy, facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration, and promoting sustainable regional economic development, EBN and its members seek to play a supportive role in ensuring the success of the Regional Innovation Valleys and the broader New European Innovation Agenda.

For further details on our position and contributions, please refer to the (forthcoming) full position paper on regional innovation capacity soon available on the EBN website.

New European Innovation Agenda and Regional Innovation Valleys

The European Commission aims to identify up to 100 Regional Innovation Valleys (RIVs) under the New European Innovation Agenda adopted in July 2022. This initiative focuses on enhancing innovation across the EU and addressing the innovation divide. Regions committed to aligning their R&I investments with EU priorities, strengthening their ecosystems, and fostering collaboration between diverse regions could apply for the RIV label through calls for proposals in 2023. Additional calls under the EIE and Horizon Europe programs are expected in 2025.

Download NEIA and RIV factsheet here.

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