The European Commission has launched the first call for projects for the new I3 fund
There is a first call for projects related to the new Interregional Innovation Investment (I3) funding instrument, that allocates 570 million euros, for 2021-2027, to support the commercialisation and scaling up of interregional innovation projects in shared smart specialisation priority areas. It will, says the European Commission, encourage the development of European value chains with a "strong cohesion dimension", since at least half of its budget will be dedicated to less developed regions.
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 euros and will cover the years 2021 and 2022. Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, explains that this funding 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".
With the launch of the call for projects, I3 is now heading towards the implementation phase. 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. I3 calls for projects have two strands, both aiming at accelerating market uptake and scale-up of innovative solutions in shared smart specialisation priority areas, as well as to develop a portfolio of investment projects
Strand 1 (Financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects) is focused on mature partnerships. 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) looks at emerging partnerships. 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.