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Cohesion Policy beyond 2020

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Cohesion Policy beyond 2020


On 19 June 2018, the Commission renewed the initiative 'Stairway to Excellence',  to continue to provide tailored support and expertise to regions lagging behind in terms of innovation.
Following the Commission's proposals for the future Cohesion Policy, the new 'Horizon Europe' programme, and in line with the Commission's renewed agenda for R&I, the renewed initiative aims to help regions development, update and refine their smart specialisation strategies ahead of the start of the 2021-2027 budgetary period. It will also help them identify adequate EU resources to finance innovative projects, and pair up with other regions with similar assets to create innovation clusters.

The initiative, coordinated by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), will give regions four main forms of support:

  1. Spot areas for improvement in their smart specialisation strategies (S3), in their regional innovation systems (RIS3) and in the way they cooperate with other regions in the fields of research and innovation.
  2. Use of all potential funding streams, 
  3. JRC will help identify and remedy specific regional bottlenecks to innovation, 
  4. JRC will also organise networking opportunities and workshops for regions.

The 'Stairway to Excellence' initiative was launched in 2014, in partnership with the European Parliament, when smart specialisation became a requirement under Cohesion Policy rules. For 2018-2019, it is focused on preparing the next long-term EU budget, building on the method of the 2017 smart specialisation pilot actions.

More information and related documents are available here.

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