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European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA)
I3 Instrument

Empowering innovation with advisory and financial support, guiding projects in joint smart specialization areas toward successful commercialization and scale-up.

Call for expression of interest

Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument

The Interregional innovation investments instrument as part of the European Regional and Development Fund (ERDF) aims at supporting interregional innovation projects in their commercialisation and scale-up phases giving them the tools to overcome regulatory and other barriers and bring their project to investment level.

The agency will implement two call strands:

  • Financial and advisory support for investments in interregional innovation projects in shared smart specialisation areas; 
  • Financial and advisory support, and capacity building for the development of value chains in less developed regions.

What we do and what are we looking for 

I3 Instrument
General publications23 March 2023
I3 Instrument factsheet

Learn more about the three dimensions of the Interregional Innovation InvestmentsInstrument:  what we are looking for & what is is is there for you. 


Funding opportunities

The I3 Instrument work programme aims at promoting innovation through Smart Specialisation and interregional collaboration. The I3 Instrument supports stronger interregional cooperation in investments and makes sustainable connections by linking regional ecosystems in shared smart specialisation areas vital to accelerate market uptake of research results and stimulate innovation. 

The 2023-2024 I3 Instrument work programme covers the following key intervention areas and Strands: 

  • Strand 1 targets consortia of innovation actors from regions (of different levels of development and innovation performance) with shared or complementary smart specialisation areas, which are ready to make investments in interregional innovation projects. 
  • Strand 2a focuses on supporting interregional innovation investments aiming at developing value chains in less developed regions and reinforcing the integration of innovation actors in EU value chains. 
  • Strand 2b aims to strengthen regional innovation ecosystems and build their capacity to develop business cases for interregional innovation projects


Three calls are currently open:


Regional Innovation Valleys calls for proposal

In the context of the New European Innovation Agenda, the Regional Innovation Valleys (RIVs) aim 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.  

The European Commission dedicated EUR 122 million under Horizon Europe (European Innovation Ecosystems) and under the European Regional Development Fund (Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument).

On 17 October 2023, the Commission closed the first coordinated calls under the Regional Innovation Valleys initiative and received in total 57 proposals - 49 under the I3 Instrument calls and 8 under the European Innovation Ecosystems call - to strengthen EU cohesion and innovation.

For further information, you can consult the documents below:


Guidelines for applicants

General FAQ 

Consult the FAQ of the Funding & tender portal 

Call "Interregional Innovation Investments Strand 1 & Strand 2a" - Informative session - 13 June 2024

On 13 June 2024, an info session about the I3 Instrument Call "Interregional Innovation Investments Strand 1 & Strand 2a" was held online. Did you miss it? No problem - the recordings of the event are available here below. 

The slides of the event are available HERE.

Call "Strand 2b Capacity Building in Less Developed Regions" - Informative session - 23 November 2023

On 23 November 2023, EISMEA and DG REGIO organised an online informative session about the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument call for proposals "Strand 2b - Capacity Building in Less Developed Regions."

The recordings of the event are available here below. The slides are available HERE.

 For beneficiaries

Promote your actions and results effectively. Be strategic, plan ahead, target your information, choose the right audience. Learn what are your obligations.


Funded projects

So far, 34 projects were selected under the I3 Instrument programme . The EU funding is coming from the European Regional Development Fund, and at least 70% of the funding will be directly invested into companies and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)

The average funding is EUR 5.5 million for an investment project and EUR 1.4 million for a capacity building project and will be shared among around 300 beneficiaries from 25 EU Member States. The successful 34 projects where selected from 124 applications.

See the list of funded projects


I3 Instrument under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The Interregional Innovation Investment Instrument (I3) financed from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF represents an opportunity to support interregional portfolios of companies’ investments bringing innovation to the market at high technology readiness levels (TRL 6-9) and reshaping EU interregional value chains.

It funds interregional innovation investments projects under shared smart specialisation priorities (S3) in the following thematic areas: green transition, digital transition and smart manufacturing which take place in the S3 participating regions. It aims to use the untapped potential of investments in innovation where the public and private sectors, as well as research and business from different countries and regions, can work together.

Policy background documents

20 APRIL 2023
I3 Instrument Work Programme 2023 - 2024
6 JANUARY 2023
Commission decision on  the financing of Interregional Innovation Investments instrument to be supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the adoption of the work programme for 2021-2022
6 JANUARY 2023
Annex - Multiannual work programme for 2021 - 2022 for the Interregional Innovation Investments instrument
6 JANUARY 2023
COMMISSION DECISION of 10.2.2022 amending Commission Decision C(2021) 6152 on the financing of Interregional Innovation Investments instrument to be supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the adoption of the work programme for 2021-2022
6 JANUARY 2023
Annex The Annex to Commission Decision C(2021) 6152



  • News article

The European Commission has launched today complementary calls for proposals under the Interregional Innovation Investments (I3) Instrument and the European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) part of Horizon Europe

  • 1 min read