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European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA)
European Innovation Ecosystems

Enabling innovation ecosystem actors
to work together across Europe


As part of Horizon Europe, the European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) programme aims to create more connected, inclusive, and efficient innovation ecosystems and support the scaling of companies, as laid out in the New European Innovation Agenda.

Innovation ecosystems 

  • bring together people or organisations whose goal is innovation, and
  • include the links between resources (such as funds, equipment, and facilities), organisations (such as higher education institutions, research and technology organisations, companies, venture capitalists and financial intermediaries), investors and policymakers.

The actions supported by European Innovation Ecosystems complement the actions carried out by the EIC and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), activities across Horizon Europe, initiatives at national, regional and local level as well as private and third sector initiatives.

The New European Innovation Agenda

The New European Innovation Agenda (NEIA) will help Europe to develop new technologies, to address the most pressing societal challenges and bring them on the market. Europe wants to be the place where the best talent work hand in hand with the best companies and where deep tech innovation thrives and creates breakthrough inspiring solutions across the continent.

The European Innovation Ecosystems projects contribute to the Agenda by:

Scaling up of deep tech innovations - Factsheet 1
General publications26 January 2023
Scaling up of deep tech innovations - Factsheet 1
Boosting innovation procurement - Factsheet 2
General publications26 January 2023
Boosting innovation procurement - Factsheet 2
Connecting the European Innovation Ecosystems - Factsheet 3
General publications26 January 2023
Connecting the European Innovation Ecosystems - Factsheet 3

Regional Innovation Valleys

In the context of the New European Innovation Agenda, the Regional Innovation Valleys (RIVs) initiative aims to create connected regional innovation valleys across the European Union (EU), involving regions with lower innovation performances, by building on strategic areas of regional strength and specialisation (defined in their smart specialisation strategies), in support of key EU priorities.  

On 19 June 2024, the European Commission has announced the selection of 151 European regions as Regional Innovation Valleys (RIVs) that are committed to enhance the coordination and directionality of their R&I investment and policies, at regional level. 

Map of selected Regional Innovation Valleys

Matchmaking map: Regional Innovation Valleys

With an overall commitment of EUR 170 million for the whole RIVs' initiative, the first beneficiaries will receive approximately EUR 116 million, with nearly EUR 54 million from the European Innovation Ecosystems Work Programme, under Horizon Europe, and over EUR 62 million from the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Factsheet - 151 regions as Regional Innovation valleys

For further information about the Regional Innovation Valley I3 Instrument calls, please visit this page and for further information on the similarities and differences between the EIE and I3 calls, please consult these guidelines.

Funding opportunities

The calls for applications are now open. The deadline for submission is 19 September 2024, 17:00 CEST.

For further information, you can consult the European Innovation Ecosystems Work Programme 2023-2024 as per the last amendment to the Horizon Europe ‘main’ work programme 2023-2024 (that has limited extension to 2025).

EIE banner

Expanding Academia-Enterprise Collaborations

EIE banner

Mutual learning and support scheme for national and regional innovation programmes

The 2023-2024 European Innovation Ecosystems actions are grouped under two destinations: CONNECT and INNOVSMES complemented by the 2021-2022 SCALEUP destination.


The actions in CONNECT focus on building interconnected, inclusive innovation ecosystems across Europe by drawing on the existing strengths of national, regional and local ecosystems and pulling in new, less well-represented actors and territories to set, undertake, and achieve collective ambitions towards challenges for the benefit of society, including the green, digital, and social transitions.

European Partnership on Innovative SMEs/EUROSTARS 

The INNOVSMES destination supports the European Partnership on Innovative SMEs/Eurostars.

This Partnership helps innovative SMEs and project partners (such us large companies, universities and research organisations) by funding international collaborative R&D and innovation projects. By participating, organisations can increase their research and innovation (R&I) capacity, their productivity and successfully embed in global value chains and new markets.

This action is led by the Eureka Secretariat with the co-fund provided by the Member States. More information here.


The actions in SCALEUP focus on reinforcing network connectivity within and between innovation ecosystems to accelerate sustainable business growth with high societal value. By actively engaging in local, national and European networks, companies can better capture and create ecosystem opportunities and gain new competitive advantage.

One of the actions funded under the SCALEUP destination is the Women TechEU.

EIE projects data hub

INNOSUP legacy programme

The INNOSUP programme was part of Horizon 2020 and its legacy continues until 2024. The ultimate goal was to enhance innovation in SMEs in Europe essentially via cascade funding schemes. Currently it is part of the European Innovation Ecosystems actions.

The programme focused on developing the ecosystem of innovation support to SMEs in Europe. The INNOSUP actions aimed to test new approaches for better innovation support through funding opportunities for innovation actors across Europe. 

They were designed to provide opportunities to Member States and regions to enhance their services through collaboration, and peer-learning, with an emphasis on testing new approaches that facilitate SMEs’ access to customers, capital and competencies; the latter especially in the domains of business, innovation and intellectual asset management.

More can be found on the EASME legacy website.

Guidelines for applicants

The European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) organises info sessions for ongoing and forthcoming EIE calls. 

On 11 June 2024, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) has organised an online info session for the following open calls:

The slides and the recordings of the event are now available.

For beneficiaries

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