Financing opportunities for innovation do not only come from Horizon Europe or the Recovery and Resilience Facility: new opportunities in several sectors are now available thanks to I3, funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Horizon Europe is the European flagship programme for co-funded innovation, but managing such ambitious projects in relatively large consortia might prove challenging for some.

No stress: other EU programmes finance innovative projects involving smaller consortia and following less strict criteria.

This is the case, for instance, of I3 – Interregional Innovation Investment Instrument, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Calls within such programme are topic-oriented (manufacturing, green, or digital) and applicants can submit their proposals in consortia of 3 to 5 partners. Only requirement: project partners should be based in regions whose levels of development diverge (see figure).

To be successful, proposals must demonstrate a certain degree of innovation in the relevant value chain. They are then awarded €2 to 10 million in grants.

Such projects come with a high potential for the regional economy, while also being easily manageable, like those funded byt other interregional programmes. The Managing Authority is EISMEA – European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency.

Currently, calls are open for the three topics, with deadlines for proposals to be submitted by October 2022. The timing is ideal for potential applicants to bring forward their project ideas and evaluate their compatibility with the I3 programme.

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dott. Beniamino Brunati – European policy expert
ing. Paola Bazzoni – Senior project manager & developer