EU Science Hub

JRC support on regional innovation funding expanded to all EU Member States

Gears illustration S2E brings together industry, academia and authorities to make the most of regional innovation financing
©Fotolia, Julien Eichinger
Mar 08 2017

The Stairway to Excellence Project now supports regions and stakeholders from all EU member states, enabling them to use synergies and make the most of the European Structural and Investment Funds and Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme.

The roll-out of the Stairway to Excellence project to the entire European Union was discussed today at a conference in Brussels. The initiative is run by the Joint Research Centre and the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy on behalf of the European Parliament.

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the JRC, said:

"Academia, business and authorities are not islands. By working together they make sure every euro goes where it is most needed to foster innovation, economic growth, and social cohesion. I welcome the support that the stairway to excellence and smart specialisation provide to driving regional development and ensuring that EU funds are spent smartly and efficiently."

The Stairway to excellence project, which had until now covered 13 EU countries(1), is expanding its focus and geographical area. This will help EU regions, industry and academia collaborate and exploit better various funding sources to foster regional innovation.

The initiative improves administrative efficiency and coordination in setting priorities and using public funds for the benefits of citizens and creating growth and jobs.

Based on planned investments under different programmes, it provides regions, industry and research organisations with tailor-made support in research and innovation themes. The aim is to help them make the best use of community funding programmes such as the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), Horizon 2020, and other funds in areas such as energy, bio-economy, health, aviation or agro-food. It also fosters dialogue and generates opportunities between regions and key stakeholders with common research and innovation priorities.

At today's event regional and national managing authorities involved in managing research and innovation funds shared lessons learnt and discussed the challenges ahead together with representatives of research and innovation organisations, clusters, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Committee of Regions.

The Stairway to Excellence project so far

Since October 2014 the project has engaged with over 1000 stakeholders from industry, regional authorities and academia in ad-hoc events in 13 EU Member States to understand their needs and challenges.

This collaboration and participatory process was underpinned by research carried out by the JRC, including country-based quantitative reports with statistical and financial information on the use of the different funding programmes as well as qualitative analyses. The Stairway to Excellence Country Reports covered bottlenecks affecting the optimal use and combination of key research and innovation funds and recommended ways to tackle the weaknesses identified. A list of examples of synergies has also been produced to illustrate how funds have been combined in order to amplify research and innovation investments and their impact.

The Stairway to Excellence team also developed a tool – "R&I Regional Viewer" – to review and visualise planned research and innovation related investments under ESIF as well as H2020 funding captured by stakeholders across EU regions.  

Click here for more information on the Stairway to Excellence project.  

(1) Countries that joined the EU since 2004