Project summary

How can we stimulate European businesses, knowledge institutes, and relevant partners to join forces to discover new ideas which could lead to innovation? That is the central question in Beyond EDP, a European Interreg project formed by eleven partners from nine countries. 

Stimulating crossovers
The entrepreneurial discovery process(EDP) is a process of continual interaction between businesses, knowledge institutes and, preferably, users, which aids the developments of new ideas and discoveries ("entrepreneurial discoveries"); discoveries which, if focused and supported in mutual cohesion, can grow to become a coherent palette of innovations, eventually becoming new economic strengths. 

The Beyond EDP project aims to strengthen the entrepreneurial discovery process in Europe, boosting the Regional Innovation smart specialisation strategy (RIS3, in short) adopted by Europe in 2014. Knowledge institutes and businesses need each other for innovation and to turn that innovation into saleable products and practical applications. SMEs can fulfil an important role here. Among SMEs are leaders, developers, early adopters, and followers. Most companies can be classed as followers, meaning that innovation is far from a priority for many entrepreneurs.

How do we stimulate innovation among these SMEs? Many European regions are faced with this problem; the Beyond EDP project was launched in 2014 for that reason. The participants share their knowledge and experience in various ways, including peer to peer reviews, joining forces to discover the success factors for stimulating innovation. They also want to know what they, as public authorities and management organisations, can do to facilitate that for companies and knowledge institutes, using tools such as financial stimulation. The aim is to create interesting crossovers on the intersections between sectors.

Creating space for spontaneous ideas
Various innovation environments have been created in the European regions in recent years, often supported by the ERDF Operational Programme: hubs and campuses where businesses and knowledge institutes can work on "entrepreneurial discovery" together. Sometimes together at physical locations, but often also through virtual collaboration.  

This already forms a part of the RIS3: the intention to create structures throughout Europe where cohesive innovation projects can constantly be developed. The idea is that bringing entrepreneurs, knowledge institutes, and users together will form a creative space where new ideas and discoveries can thrive. The themes and schools of thought must not be decided in advance. It is intended to allow ideas to spontaneously emerge from the dynamism that develops between the parties. Focused and cohesive support can help those ideas grow into promising new economic initiatives.

Europe still has a lot of room for improvement  
Europe still has a long way to go in this area. The number of innovation projects needs to increase, the cohesion between innovation environments could be better, and many more business from many different sectors could join these types of initiatives.  

The Beyond EDP participants want to stimulate enthusiasm for innovation in their own region, bolstering the development of new creative environments everywhere, where businesses and institutes can continually raise ideas and find out which ones have the most potential. Those ideas can then receive focused support and be further developed into concrete initiatives. These are often niches: new ideas formed by clustering and contact between companies which may never have collaborated before because they are working on completely different things.

Beyond EDP: a key project for Europe
The Beyond EDP project addresses the core of the European innovation strategy, making it a key project for achieving the goal that Europe wishes to achieve by 2020: an economy based on smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth(growth in which everyone has a fair share, and which therefore does not come at the cost of minority groups and stragglers). The Beyond EDP project stimulates relationships and cross-connections between regions, as well as between businesses, knowledge institutes, and other stakeholders.  

The trick is to make innovation everyone's business. Not only for large companies, but also for smaller SME companies, whether they are focused on high tech or on craftsmanship. Not only in the cities, but also in the countryside.

Entrepreneurial discovery comes to life in creative environments. The more parties that meet each other, the broader the creativity and the greater the chance of creating something new which, in turn, leads to other new ideas. Innovation, by definition, requires teamwork.


from 1 Apr 2016
to 31 Mar 2021

Research and innovation

What policy instruments does the project address?

Given its regional industrial strengths (the industry plays a leading role in the regional economy with more than 17% of GDP and jobs) and in order to face economic and technological challenges, the Centre-Val de Loire (CVL) region has made industry renewal one of its top priority. To achieve this objective, CVL continuously seek to boost regional innovation capacity. In this context, the CVL has since 2009 been working on better understanding the concept of Smart specialisation Strategy. CVL RIS3 has been officially approved by the Regional Council on 19th of December 2013.

CVL RIS3 aims to :

  • To encourage all types of innovation by strengthening regional research and innovation capacities;
  • To make the ecological transition an asset for the industrial fabric;
  • To strengthen the region's attractiveness by building on the industry (such as pharmacy, chemistry, cosmetics, mechanical equipment, electrical, electronic and computer equipment) and on tourism sectors having an international dimension
  • To enhance the creative capacities of companies through the human capital
  • To increase the number of innovative companies from 1000 to 1500 by 2020.

More specifically, the RIS3 objective is to increase the critical mass, visibility and attractiveness of competence centres in the 5 priorities retained in the RIS3. The policy is directly linked with the CVL ERDF OP: Axis 1 Knowledge Society (TO1 directly linked with RIS3, investment priorities 1a and 1b).

Which partners are working on this?
  • DEV'UP Centre-Val de Loire "until 31/12/2016 Centre-Val de Loire Regional Innovation Agency"

The Castilla y León 2014 2020 RIS3 is the regional 2014-2020 R&D and Information Society’s planning document. It is the continuation of a path that Castilla y León started in 1997, which was the precursor of many elements reflected in the previous table and today form part of the European Union’s approach. The elaboration of the Castilla y León RIS3 has followed the six step methodology published by the European Commission’s Smart Specialisation Platform. Smart specialisation of Castilla y León is the top level of the regional policies, RIS3 is articulated around 5 Priorities and 6 Objectives.

TCUE is a particular measure of the RIS3, close to the EDP, as TCUE is at the centre of the regional quadruple helix (government, business, academy and society).

TCUE therefore has a significant potential to improve EDP during the implementation of the RIS3. TCUE is articulated as a network of all the regional universities

fostering knowledge transfer to regional companies, and entrepreneurship.

ERDF OP : Axis 1 “Fostering R&D&I” and Axis 2 “Improving access to ICT” (Digital Agenda) are directly linked to RIS3. The selected measure TCUE is related to ERDF as it is included in the Priority Axis 1.2 of the ERDF Operational Programme of Castilla y León: “Fostering innovation and the development of links between companies and research centres”.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Universities and Higher Education Foundation of Castilla y León

RIS3 is the output of intensified intraregional cooperation between the research sector, the business and the Public Authorities (triple helix model). This strategy is also in line with the national policies on innovation and increasing competitiveness.

Coördination of the RIS3 design in our region was performed by the Centru Regional Development Agency.Functional partnership and working groups were set up:

Regional Committee for Planning and Thematic working groups.

Decisionmaking mechanism for RIS3:

  • RDA Centru is in charge with drafting the RIS3
  • The RIS3 priorities are settled by RDA Centru together with Regional Committee for Planning based on the draft prepared by RDA Centru
  • Finally, the Regional Board of Centru Region has endorsed the RIS3

Setting up our RIS3 priorities

We defined 3 horizontal directions (I, II, V) and 2 specific directions (III, IV) for reaching our goals:

  • Building an economic culture of innovation (I)
  • Regional research as support for regional businesses (II)
  • Areas of excellence for a regional smart development (III)
  • Better professional skills for a knowledgebased economy (IV)
  • Interregional Cooperation at European level (V)

The Centru RIS3 is related to the following national programmes: the Regional Operational Programme ERDF 20142020, the Operational Programme for the Competiveness 20142020, the Human Capital Operational Programme 20142020.(IV)

Which partners are working on this?
  • Regional Development Agency Centru (RDA Centru)

Extremadura RIS3 Strategy is an integrated agenda for the economic transformation of the region. Its global objective is increasing the size, added value and global competitiveness of the socioeconomic fabric of Extremadura through policies that enable the use and development of technologies related to the region’s sources of differentiation, fundamentally based on the sustainable exploitation of natural and cultural resources and the capabilities for creating quality of life in its demographic context, in connection with the challenges of Europe 2020 and global opportunitygeneration tendencies. In particular, Extremadura RIS3 Programme C2.3 «Facilitation of Entrepreneurial Discovery Processes» aims at strengthening the links of the value chains affecting the smart specialisation and at facilitating the development of Entrepreneurial Discovery Processes to help the identification of emerging opportunities and niche sectors related to Extremadura specialisation.

The success of this policy instrument demands a global approach to Research, Development and Innovation support policies so as to arrange a multi actor governance, foster the regional specialisation potential through a welldesigned combination of different instruments and asses the results achieved.

RIS3 is directly linked to Extremadura ERDF OP Axis 1 "Strengthening Research, Technological Development and Innovation". Moreover, the promotion of the EDP is

specifically linked to the Priority 1.2.


Which partners are working on this?
  • Foundation FUNDECYT Scientific and Technological Park of Extremadura (FUNDECYT-PCTEX)

The Lodzkie Region, in accordance with the RIS 2012 is seen as a weak innovator at the secondary level of progressive growth rate of innovation. The challenge for the

region, enshrined in the Regional Innovation Strategy for the Lodzkie Region (LORIS 2030) is to change this situation and try to eliminate the gap between the Lodzkie

and some of the Western European regions by 2030. LORIS 2030 includes measures that support the development of entrepreneurship, strengthen the cooperation

of enterprises, research and development entities, institutions of business environment and administration and promote the broadly defined innovation in all areas of

economic activity. The 2nd key element is the system of management, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

The main object is: Outlining a vision for specific strategic industries of the region, the directions of their development, the development scenarios as well as defining

the conditions of the effective implementation of the designated activities. The Specific objectives are: mapping of relationships between the groups of key

technologies and the key industries; mapping of regional specialisations, including a description and conditions of creating possible networks of sciencebusiness

relationships, developing the project proposals facilitating the connection and integration of the key groups of technologies with the key industries.

The RIS3 is directly linked with the Lodzkie Region ROP 20142020 (Measure 1.2).

Which partners are working on this?
  • Lodzkie Region

RIS3 aim at transforming regional economies, betting on regional strengths and specialisations. The RIS3 provide a framework to identify the development axis and the specialisations of the regional economy.

In Nord-Pas de Calais, the RIS3 has been designed thanks to an entrepreneurial discovery process. Nord-Pas de Calais identified 6 strategic domains to work on: 

  1. Transport and mobility,
  2. Nutrition and Health,
  3. Ambient Intelligence and Internet of Things,
  4. Materials, Chemistry, Recycling,
  5. Numeric picturing and Creative industries,
  6. Energy.

Moreover, a list of 7 smart specialisations was established, including for example natural ingredients for health, organic textiles, polymers and composites, or design and applications of bio-based products.

With the RIS3, the smart specialisations are to become the new engines of the regional economy. The first challenge is to gather forces from all the regional ecosystem on the long term and to involve all the relevant stakeholders (companies, local authorities, research centres, etc.). A second challenge is to update the RIS3 with new hypothesis of specialisation that could emerge through the EDP. Therefore the improvement of the EDP in terms of methodology, tools and know-how is a key element of the RIS3 success.

RIS3 is directly linked with Nord-Pas de Calais ERDF OP : Axe 1 :

  • TO1, SO 1.a.2 ; SO 1.b.1
  • TO 3, SO 3.d
Which partners are working on this?
  • North France Innovation & Development ‘until 31/03/2017’

The Northern Netherlands (N-NLs) RIS3 aims at broadening and connecting value chains, by creating ‘cross overs’ between sectors and technologies. It supports businesses and knowledge institutes to invest in new chains, products and markets

Pivotal in this process are SME’s. SMEs comprise more than 95% of all companies in the N-NLs. Analysis has shown that these SME’s appear to be insufficiently capable of exploiting existing knowledge and/or generating new knowledge.

The RIS3 addresses this issue by:

  • fostering collaboration, between businesses and between businesses and knowledge institutes
  • improving the access to knowledge, and
  • improving the effectiveness and accessibility of support measures.

The knowledge available within the region is insufficient to come to solutions, so cross-border collaboration plays a key role in this respect. New partnerships are envisaged to be developed, and existing partnerships are encouraged to be extended.

The policy instrument aims to strengthen the knowledge base of SME’s to ensure that they are better equipped to exploit existing knowledge and generate new knowledge. It will expand the innovation system and enable more SME’s to incorporate innovation within their operation.

RIS3 is directly related to the N-NLs Operational Programme ERDF through IP 1.b, SO B.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Northern Netherlands Alliance

The RIS3 of Östergötland was established by East Sweden Business Region (ESBR). Included in ESBR are the organisations in Östergötland that are partly or wholly tax funded and which work to support efforts to achieve growth. The RIS3 of Östergötland is unique, the strategy focuses on regional strengths from which all industries/branches can benefit. The five regional strengths of Östergötland are effective logistics, business models and arenas for sustainable system solutions, smart, secure and connected products and systems, simulation and visualisation and advanced materials. The next step is the improvement of the RIS3 process of Östergötland, the aim with the participation in the EDP project is to find an intelligent way of working to use our strengths so that they can add value in the form of innovations and strong competiveness in all industries and all sectors. Region Östergötland is currently trying out a new model for implementation, based on two parts; benefit of applying the strength areas and concrete tools for implementation. In order to improve the strategy, Östergötland needs to share experiences with all regions at different levels regarding RIS3, how can we learn from each other. In order to improve the RIS3, Östergötland requires knowledge regarding the entrepreneurial discovery process, regarding the implementation process of the RIS3 strategy and are also interested to within the project develop a common methodology/language towards businesses/companies.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Region Östergötland

The regional innovation strategy of Saxony-Anhalt (Saxony-Anhalt RIS3) fulfils the requirement as ex-ante conditionality of ERDF Funding. Moreover, it also addresses - beside the traditional definition of innovation and funding scheme of ERDF (strengthening research, technological development and innovation as well as competiveness of SME’s) – social innovation and societal challenges like demographic change, skills in demand etc. which correlates with ESF priorities (e.g. life-long learning). So, the Saxony-Anhalt RIS3 is the attempt – as development of the former cluster and innovation strategy - of an overarching strategy for various regional concepts in order to become innovation leader according to the Regional Innovation Scoreboard in 2020.

The programming of ERDF and ESF – in particular ERDF priority axis 1, objective 1 and priority axis 2, objective 3 as well as ESF priority axis 1, objective 8 and priority axis 3, objective 10 – was oriented with focus of these innovation-friendly lead markets. The focus will laid on these measures financed by ERDF and ESF Operational Programme in order to share best practice with other regions with different experience and expertise. We expect that the project will help us to structure the EDP and find sustainable governance structures which enhance tailor-made public policies for the needs of regional business and academia in order to promote cooperation in the Quadruple Helix and foster growth and jobs.

Which partners are working on this?
  • Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg

The objective of Umbria Region Strategy of Research and Innovation for Smart Specialisation is: “ To activate local potential by leveraging regional assets, talents , through access to the results of research and the promotion of new entrepreneurship. "

Within this general objective the strategy identifies the expected changes, such as changes and transformations intended to be carried out to build a sustainable competitive advantage for the region and for the regional production system.

The priority areas of Umbria RIS3 coincide with areas of technological specialisation of the Region and they are:

  • Energy,
  • Smart Manufacturing/aerospace industry;
  • Sciences of Life
  • Agrifood,
  • Green chemistry.

Umbria Region Strategy of Research and Innovation for Smart Specialisation (RIS3) is considered as unified and comprehensive innovation strategy to support a socio-economic change in the region. Therefore it is consider as a fundamental component of economic and development public policies.

The strategy includes measures that will be activated through regional programs financed by the Structural Funds, in particular the Umbria ROP ERDF will activate RIS3 actions under the Priority Axe 1 " Research and Innovation ". Total funds of Umbria ROP ERDF: 342M€, of which 101M€ allocated to Axis 1”research and innovation”

Which partners are working on this?
  • Umbria Region

Several challenges were highlighted in Burgundy and in Franche-Comte for the RIS 3: strengthening the research excellence, developing partnerships for innovation, strengthening the transfer activities of public research and its impact on the economic, expanding the circle of innovative companies, developing human and technological skills for innovation...

Burgundy identified 5 strategic domains to work on: nutrition and health, materials, biomedical, eco-construction and mobility. Franche-Comte identified 7 strategic domains to work on: mobility, energy, ICT, sustainable traditional food, microsystems, Microtechnique and luxury products.

The first challenge concerns the governance. This aspect must be tackled not only in its strategic dimension, but also at an operational level. The success demands a global approach and to organize a multi actor governance. Therefore, the recent fusion of the regions (but not of the ERDF POs) and the elaboration of a new Regional scheme of economic development, innovation and internationalization (SRDEII) and a Regional scheme of higher education, research and innovation are changing the existing landscape.

RIS3 is directly link with Burgundy and Franche-Comté ERDF: (Axis 1 “strengthening Research, Technological Development and Innovation”).

Which partners are working on this?
  • Regional Council Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (from 01/04/2017)