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Priority 1: Facilitating innovation across Central Europe

Innovation is a key driver for strengthening Central Europe’s competitiveness and it is a top policy priority for the European Union. CENTRAL EUROPE has, therefore, made it a programme priority to promote innovation and knowledge management and reach out to new stakeholders in the fields of innovation and economic development.

Projects under this priority will aim at improving the climate for innovation in all regions and enabling them to make better use of their innovation potential. They will create favourable framework conditions for innovation and build up capabilities for the effective transfer and application of innovation. They will also foster knowledge development and help people to obtain the qualifications they need for the knowledge-based economy.

Summary/Overview: About innovation in Central Europe

Innovation is a systemic rather than a linear process, involving many different players and often happening over an extended period of time. Well-functioning innovation systems ensure the free flow of information across the interfaces between researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, public authorities and many other actors. Such systems may have technical components but are, above all, networks of individuals. For this reason, proximity is an important feature of most innovation systems.

In the context of the CENTRAL EUROPE programme, innovation is considered as one of the most important driving forces for economic wealth. It is not just related to a few high-tech industries but a major factor of any industry or economic sector. It is more than simply the initial 'big idea' or a product or services that result from the idea. Innovation is more accurately described as a process through which knowledge is created and translated into new products, services or processes of the private and the public sector.


To improve the climate for innovation in all regions and to enable them to make better use of their innovation potential by addressing their specific needs and areas of weakness and fostering the areas of strength.

Transnational Approach

On a general note, transnational cooperation should not omit the fact that regional and national innovation policies are of a highly competitive nature. For this reason, transnational cooperation in the field of innovation will have to address existing limitations to the willingness to freely exchange insights and knowledge. The common goal is to overcome thinking in terms of national/regional competitiveness in order to strive for a more competitive and innovative Central Europe area as a whole. In jointly striving for innovation, the driving force should be learning from Central Europe’s diversity. The common goal should be to complement national/regional policies in those areas where it proves to be most effective.

In the field of innovation transnational cooperation can be especially fruitful in the following cases:

  • Issues affecting a clearly defined transnational geographical area across national and regional borders such as the coordination / harmonisation of innovation policies and actions, the transnational orientation of innovation systems, the development of transnational innovation clusters, and the development of transnational educational and training networks of polycentric areas, larger transnational regions and nations.
  • Common issues of interest such as innovative approaches to the promotion of lagging behind regions, capitalisation on approaches to technology transfer and on experiences in supporting SMEs, the establishment of effective links between public administration, research and the private sector, new approaches to addressing brain-drain and improving human capital.

Indicative Project Environment – Relevant Past Initiatives

All projects are expected to take the outcomes of past initiatives (projects, professional networks, etc.) into consideration as far as these initiatives are relevant to the thematic focus of the project. In this respect, projects are especially required to build upon the outcomes of past ERDF programmes, including Interreg IIIB in general and CADSES in particular, Interreg IIIC (interregional cooperation), Urbact and Espon. In some cases also Objective 1 and 2, Interreg A programmes as well as other EU programmes (not financed through ERDF) such as the Research Framework Programme will be of importance.

Indicative Project Environment – Relevant Current Initiatives

Under this Priority, during project implementation, projects are expected to specifically consider synergies and complementarities with other Territorial Cooperation programmes, including other transnational programmes (e.g., Alpine Space, South East Europe, Baltic Sea Region) and interregional cooperation (IVC) for the exchange of experience and with Objective 1 and 2 for investments. Relevant other EU programmes and initiatives include the FP7 (7th Research Framework Programme), CIP -Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, including the EIP - Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme and the ICT PSP - Information Technologies Policy Support Programme), ESF (European Social Fund), the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme, JEREMIE (Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises), the ICT Policy Support Programme, i2010 (European Information Society in 2010) and eContent Plus.

In addition to the Lisbon and Gothenburg strategies and the Cohesion Policy - depending on the thematic focus of the project - other relevant policies and strategies exist such as the European Social Agenda.

Potential Partners
Potential partners are all national, regional, local decision-makers and bodies in the fields of education, research, knowledge-transfer, technology, labour-market, regional development, such as local and regional public authorities, regional development agencies, chambers of commerce, SMEs; universities, tertiary education, associations, technology transfer institutions; R&TD facilities, research institutions, regional international centres of R&TD excellence; regional innovation agencies, incubator houses; education and training centres, labour market services, social partners (e.g., trade unions engaged in social dialogue) employers’ associations, trade unions, as well as all population groups, which are affected by the Areas of Intervention concerned.

Key Words

RTD, technology transfer/cluster development, SME support & networks, entrepreneur(ship), start-ups, spin-offs, innovative SME support, ICT solutions, TEN-ICT, ICT e-services/public services, ICT for SMEs, ICT access & economic use, labour market and demographic change, labour market and migrants, education and training, knowledge development, education and training research networks, governance and partnership / cooperation networks, institutional learning / policy development.

Areas of Intervention

This priority includes the following areas of intervention:

It is important to note, that, apart from being a programme priority in its own right, innovation is also considered a horizontal goal and requirement for all projects seeking funding from the programme.

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