Interconnected Innovation Ecosystems – Deadline 25 April 2024

Programme: Horizon Europe Framework Programme (HORIZON)
Call: Interconnected Innovation Ecosystems (2024.1) (HORIZON-EIE-2024-CONNECT-01)
Type of action: HORIZON-CSA HORIZON Coordination and Support Actions
Type of MGA: HORIZON Action Grant Budget-Based [HORIZON-AG]
Deadline model: Single-stage
Opening date: 11 January 2024
Deadline date: 25 April 2024 17:00:00 Brussels time

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Strengthening Research and Innovation (R&I) cooperation between the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) is a key priority of the EU Communication Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa[1], in which the role of R&I is recognised as a driver for sustainable and inclusive economic growth and job generation, thereby reducing poverty and inequalities. The first R&I Ministerial meeting of the AU-EU High-Level Policy Dialogue on Science, Technology and Innovation (HLPD on STI) agreed to focus cooperation in four priority areas: Public Health, Green Transition, Innovation & Technology, and Capacities for Science, and also agreed to the development of a joint AU-EU Innovation Agenda, which is currently under preparation, and expected to be adopted at the second AU-EU R&I Ministerial in early 2023.

This topic contributes to the priority areas of action (number 9) listed in the Council Conclusions on the Future Governance European Research Area[2] with regard to launching a pilot initiative on the Team Europe approach for a specific world region and/or topic.

This topic is also in support of the key actions mentioned in the Council Conclusions on the Global approach to Research and Innovation – the EU’s strategy for international cooperation in changing world[3], in particular at point twenty-nine related to the AU-EU Partnership, aiming at developing a joint EU-AU Research and Innovation Agenda in support of building research capacities and translating research outputs, including those from the ‘Africa Initiative’ under the Horizon Europe Work Programmes 2021-2022, into socio-economic and environmental benefits, in line with the agreement reached at the 2020 EU-AU R&I Ministerial meeting.

The action funded under this topic will have the objective of supporting the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda. The action is expected to bring together a mix of EU and AU innovation stakeholders, from academia and business, including higher education establishments, public and private research entities, non-governmental organisations, international finance institutions, incubators and accelerators, technology transfer and capacity building and higher learning organisations.

The aim of the topic will be to foster the links and networks between innovation stakeholders from the AU and EU innovation ecosystems, also including the social innovation dimension.

Proposals addressing this topic should in particular contribute to the following outcomes:

  • Support the implementation of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda by providing for a convening platform enabling the elaboration and proposal of implementation modalities of specific actions already included in the current AU-EU Innovation Agenda. In particular and in practice, this action would enable the attainment of several short-term actions foreseen in the working document of the Innovation Agenda for two thematic areas (e.g. “Cross-cutting issues” and “Capacities for science”), aiming to:
    • Foster the establishment of links and networks among stakeholders across the innovation value chains, from the generation of ideas to development and implementation of innovations, including private and public sectors, higher education and research organisations, financial institutions, and civil society organisations;
    • Involve citizens in the innovation ecosystems, to improve societal uptake of innovation outputs, and valorise creative and collective intelligence, ensuring also gender equality and active participation of youths;
    • Strengthen coordination and cooperation between AU and EU innovation programmes and various implementing institutions, ensuring knowledge transfer, capacity building and mobility opportunities, consistent with the socio-economic needs of the concerned AU and EU countries or regions.
  • Facilitate, conceptually and logistically, the organisation of annual or bi-annual meetings with key innovation stakeholders from the EU and the AU. By doing so, provide a forum for discussion and planning of the implementation of other short-, medium- and long-term actions of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda;
  • Provide further de-risking support to Eureka-funded small and medium sized-enterprises (SMEs), that have previously benefitted from Viability Assessment Projects (VAPs) under Eureka’s Innowwide, by shortening the time-to-market of their innovative solutions and enhancing the uptake of innovations in European and African countries.