Commission launches the €570 million interregional innovation investment instrument

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The Commission has launched the first call for projects for the new Interregional Innovation Investment instrument (I3). This is a new funding instrument for 2021-2027 that allocates €570 million to support the commercialisation and scaling up of interregional innovation projects in shared smart specialisation priority areas. It will encourage the development of European value chains with a strong cohesion dimension as at least half of its budget will be dedicated to less developed regions.

Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, said: ”With the Interregional Innovation Investments Instrument we are exploiting the untapped potential of stronger interregional cooperation for a more innovative, competitive and cohesive European Union. This instrument will combine investment support in key European priorities like the green and digital transition with the strongest areas of innovation of each European region. I am happy to say that with the launch of the call for projects, the instrument is now heading towards the implementation phase.”

The I3 will support partnerships of researchers, businesses, civil society and public administrations to identify and refine common areas of investment. Synergies with actions under Horizon Europe and the Single Market programme will also be supported. The first I3 call for proposals worth €145 million and will cover the years 2021 and 2022.

I3 calls for projects have two strands:

  • Strand 1 – Financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects

For mature partnerships to help them accelerate market uptake and scale-up of innovative solutions in shared smart specialisation priority areas, as well as to develop a portfolio of investment projects. Collaboration between more developed regions and less developed ones is encouraged under this strand. The strand is particularly geared towards small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups that often lack resources to test their ideas, concepts and innovation.

  • Strand 2 – Financial and advisory support to the development of value chains in less developed regions

For emerging partnerships to help them accelerate market uptake and scale-up of innovative solutions in shared smart specialisation priority areas, as well as to develop a portfolio of investment projects. This strand aims at increasing, in particular, the capacity of regional innovation ecosystems in less developed regions to participate in global value chains, as well as the capacity to participate in partnerships with other regions.

A dedicated Commission Expert Group

In order to ensure stakeholder involvement, an expert group has been set up to support the Commission in defining a long-term work programme and in preparing calls for proposals.


The I3 is a funding instrument under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with a budget of €570 million over 7 years. It builds on the experience of the interregional pilot actions and it benefits from the Smart Specialisation Strategies (S3) under Cohesion policy. It is implemented under direct management by the European Innovation Council and SME executive agency (EISMEA’) on the basis of a work programme. The first work programme covers the years 2021 and 2022.

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