Research and innovation

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Europe 2020 sets smart growth as one of the three priorities of the EU's growth strategy. European regions should aim for an economy based on knowledge and innovation. Along with it goes the goal to invest 3% of the EU's GDP in research and development.

The European Commission put in place the Innovation Union flagship initiative to improve the framework conditions and the access to finance for research and innovation. This initiative for developing and delivering innovation policies comprises over 30 action points. These points include for instance developing knowledge and skills through modernisation of education and training systems or encouraging innovative companies to improve the interoperability of products and innovative systems.

The focus on research and innovation as drivers of growth in the EU and on the necessary investments is reflected also among the themes selected by the INTERREG EUROPE programme 2014-2020. The one on strengthening research, technological development and innovation in regions targets policies fostering the infrastructure and capacities needed for research and innovation to flourish. This theme also includes policies supporting the actual delivery of innovation in regional innovation chains, particularly in the areas of ‘smart specialisation’. 

Read more at the Interreg Europe programme manual (§2.5.2)

Project examples

  • Regional authorities and business support players sharing experience on public funding schemes for innovation support as a key element of innovation infrastructure, resulting in action plans for the creation in each region of a revolving fund for technology innovation either as a ‘financial instrument’ in a regional Growth and Jobs programme or operated independently.
  • Exchange of experience among regional authorities on policies and programmes to create research facilities and to set up international R&D cooperation networks in less research intensive regions, and prepare the creation of such facilities and networks through action plans.
  • Exchange of experience among regional development agencies to plan actions for improving the match between curricula of higher education institutes and human capital needs of businesses in their regional smart specialisation sectors.
  • Exchange of experience among regional players to improve policies in support of innovation infrastructure (e.g. incubators, technology information centres, research centres) addressing the key societal challenges in the field of health, demographic change and well-being.
  • Exchange of practices among regional authorities, universities and innovation agencies to develop, for each region, facilities and methods to support knowledge transfer and strengthen opportunities for open innovation between businesses and academia in the field of green technologies within and between regions. 
  • Regional development innovation agencies exchanging practices on cluster development and the management of life-science clusters, resulting in action plans for establishing new regional and cross-border clusters through projects under their respective regional Growth and Jobs and cross-border ETC programmes.
  • Cooperation among regional authorities and business support players from regions with strong ICT/new media sectors to exchange practices and prepare action to increase intra- and interregional triple-helix cooperation facilitating the commercialisation of R&D results.

Suggested reading

Innovation Systems publication

Interreg Europe programme manual


This important document gives detailed information on the programme, platforms and on setting-up and implementing interregional cooperation projects.


Innovation Systems publication

Interreg Europe Cooperation Programme


This is the final version of the Cooperation Programme approved by all partner states and submitted to the European Commission for approval. It is currently awaiting approval by EC.


Suggested presentations

INTERREG EUROPE for research & innovation (03/12/2014, Bologna, IT)

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