June 21, 2021

Excellence Hubs


Main purpose: Excellence Hubs aim to strengthen regional innovation through empowering place based innovation ecosystems – That are, interconnected companies, research institutions, governmental bodies and societal actors that are mutually reinforcing each other in a territorial context and together raise the level of innovation excellence in their regional fabric.

Excellence Hubs shall contribute to the safeguarding of Europe’s leading position in the global race for technology, while improving the environment for business R&I investment and the deployment of new technologies, as well as enhance the take up and visibility of research results in the economy and society as a whole. Moreover, regional innovation ecosystems shall connect and be a driver of new European strategic value chains. Consistent with this is their alignment with (other) regional, national and European innovation strategies and policy priorities, such as the Green Deal and digital transition, and the opportunities this creates to attract additional public and private capital, and to engage in cross-sectoral partnerships.

Applicants may choose between a more regional orientation of the Excellence Hub e.g. proven by a common denominator in their regional smart specialisation strategy and/or a more global orientation towards European policy priorities such as the green or digital transition.

Excellence Hubs shall be established around the following core components:

  1. Cross-border joint R&I strategy aligned with regional smart specialisation strategies and/or European policy priorities such as the green and digital transition
  2. R&I project consolidating academia business linkages and providing evidence for strategy building and investment
  3. Action and investment plans for implementation of the strategy
  4. Conceptual design and pre-planning for pilots and demonstrators (if applicable) in line with the strategy
  5. Accompanying measures e.g. to raise visibility, citizen engagement, technology transfer, entrepreneurship training, staff exchange, mutual learning etc.

Excellence Hubs are expected to contribute to the following outcomes:

  1. Excellent and sustainable place based innovation ecosystems in Widening countries and beyond in relevant domains of cutting-edge science and innovation
  2. Long term joint R&I strategies underpinned by concrete action plans of European relevance
  3. Common investment plans for R&I including infrastructures leveraging national, regional and European funds as well as private capital in a synergetic manner
  4. R&I pilot projects alongside a joint strategy and in line with regional and national strategies, notably regional innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3)
  5. New competencies and skills for researchers, entrepreneurs and professionals in R&I intensive domains
  6. Strengthened linkages between science and business
  7. Poles of attraction for talents in catching up regions and countries
  8. Improved knowledge transfer and development of entrepreneurial skills.
  9. Uptake of innovative technologies
  10. New business opportunities especially for SMEs and new employment.

Programme: Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)

Institution: European Commission

Deadline: 15 March 2022

Budget: 50 million EUR

Financing type: Action grant

Who is eligible: Consortium – ecosystems or individual partners from outside the region may participate in the consortium as long as these provide added value by facilitating access to excellence for the region.

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