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European Innovation Council
News article13 July 20213 min read

More than €90 million available under the first calls of the European Innovation Ecosystems Work Programme

A novelty under Horizon Europe, the European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE) Work Programme aims to create the ground for a sustainable, robust and integrated European innovation ecosystem. 

Its main objective is to support the scaling of companies and spurring innovation to address important challenges.

The EIE calls are now open for submission and are grouped under three main destinations: CONNECT, SCALEUP and INNOVSMES.


The actions of the SCALEUP destination reinforce network connectivity within and between innovation ecosystems, accelerate sustainable business growth and promote female leadership in deep tech.

Three EIE SCALEUP calls with a total budget of € 13.75 million are open for submission until 10 November 2021:

Aims at establishing new links and joint programmes between business acceleration entities located in less connected innovation ecosystems and more developed ones located in regions with high innovation performance. Activities under this call will improve the quality of business acceleration services, their network outreach and scale-up support offered to start-ups.

Will support enhanced development of deep tech ecosystems around pan-European research and technology infrastructures to generate, scale and deploy breakthrough technologies with market and social value by piloting ways to seed the development of innovation ecosystems around diverse technological areas related to pan-European research and technology infrastructures.

A brand new initiative to tackle the innovation gender gap by supporting women leading deep tech start-ups at the early, formative stages of their company. Women TechEU offers first-class coaching and mentoring to female founders provided by the EIC’s “Women Leadership Programme”, as well as financial support of  € 75,000 to  help take their business to the next level.


The CONNECT destination offers a holistic package of actions that foster the implementation of co-funded multi-annual programmes of activities among Member States, Horizon Europe Associated Countries and EU regions; It encourages the inclusion of more stakeholders from across the quadruple helix and stimulates innovation procurement to help the market uptake of innovative solutions.

Two EIE CONNECT calls with a total budget of € 8 million are open for submission until 26 October 2021:

The actions will allow national, regional and/or local authorities from Member States, Horizon Europe Associated Countries and/or EU regions in charge of innovation policies and programmes to prepare joint multi-annual programmes of activities (action plans), in cooperation with private and research and innovation actors. The goal of the proposed actions is to strengthen their efficiency, capacities and interconnection and jointly tackle challenges at EU, national, regional and local level.

Projects under this topic will provide dedicated training and guidance, exchange of best practices and capacity building necessary to reveal innovation procurement potential.


The INNOVSMES destination supports the European Partnership on Innovative SMEs.

The INNOVSMES call with a total budget of € 72.8 million is open until 1 September 2021:

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.


As part of Horizon Europe, the EU aims to create more connected, efficient and fairer 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 the first ever European Innovation Ecosystems Work Programme complement the actions carried out by the European Innovation Council 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.


Publication date
13 July 2021


European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE)

European Innovation Ecosystems (EIE)
EISMEA-EU-ECOSYSTEMSatec [dot] europa [dot] eu