Innovation has a prominent role in Europe’s efforts to tackle major societal and environmental challenges. As stated in the Commission Work Programme 2017, it is essential to “continue to work to create the right climate for innovation in Europe, to help create new industries and jobs”. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is working towards this objective through its operational arm, the Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), by accelerating innovation and supporting the creation of the conditions where innovation is more likely to thrive and generate breakthroughs.
Nevertheless, Europe is characterised by considerable disparities in terms of research and innovation performance. This has resulted in classification of the European countries as innovation leaders and strong innovators to ‘moderate and modest innovators’1 in the annual European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS).2 One reason for lower innovation performance is missing or weak linkages among the key players—businesses and research institutions and academia, as well as between private and public sectors,3 including a lack of know-how of innovation schemes and a structured, systematic approach towards innovation.
As a response to this challenge, the EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) was introduced by the European Parliament and the Council as part of the EIT’s Strategic Innovation Agenda (SIA) 2014-2020.