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European Innovation Council
European Innovation Ecosystems

Specific support to enable innovation ecosystem actors to work together across Europe.

European Innovation Ecosystems

Creating more connected and efficient innovation ecosystems to support the scaling of companies and spur innovation to address important challenges in a responsible way.


As part of Horizon Europe, the EU aims to create more connected and efficient innovation ecosystems to support the scaling of companies, encourage innovation and stimulate cooperation among national, regional and local innovation actors.

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.

Funding opportunities

Horizon Europe Work Programme - European Innovation Ecosystems
(747.43 KB - PDF)

European Innovation Ecosystems actions are grouped under three destinations: CONNECT, SCALEUP and INNOVSMES.

Calls are open


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.


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 WomenTechEU initiative.


The INNOVSMES destination supports the European Partnership on Innovative SMEs.

The European Partnership on Innovative SMEs will help innovative SMEs to increase their research and innovation (R&I) capacity and productivity and successfully embed in global value chains and new markets.

The INNOVSMES call is closed (deadline was 1 September 2021).


INNOSUP legacy programme

The Innovation in SMEs programme (INNOSUP) was part of the Horizon 2020  programme 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 Ecosystem.

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. More can be found on the EASME legacy website.

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.

Guidelines for applicants

On 21 September, the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) has organised an informative webinar to learn more about the European Innovation Ecosystems Work Programme (EIE) 2021-2022 and the Startup Europe initiative under the European Innovation Council Work Programme 2021.

The video and presentations from the webinar are available below.

2021 European Innovation Ecosystems & Startup Europe informative session
(10.26 MB - PDF)



European Innovation Ecosystems news