The EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) was introduced in 2014 to advance the innovation performance of more countries and their regions across Europe, especially countries with moderate or modest innovation scores as defined by the European Innovation Scoreboard. Since its establishment, the EIT RIS, which is steered by the EIT and implemented by its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), has successfully lead to a significant expansion of EIT Community activities to more countries and regions across Europe, contributing to a pan-European spread of EIT Community engagement opportunities and networks.
Countries eligible to take part in the EIT RIS (2021-2024):
- EU Member States: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain.
- Horizon Europe Associated Countries*: Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine.
- Outermost Regions: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte and Saint-Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal), and the Canary Islands (Spain).
*These third countries, which are all listed in the European Innovation Scoreboard, will be eligible for the EIT RIS, following the successful conclusion of individual Horizon Europe Association Agreements.
Who can participate?
Any entity from a RIS eligible country or region can participate in EIT RIS activities. Through the EIT RIS, each EIT KIC will engage with local innovators – individuals such as students, researchers, entrepreneurs, as well as, organisations such as SMEs, universities, research labs, regions, NGOs and cities. The EIT KICs also involve the local players in education, business creation and acceleration activities, as well as innovation-driven research.
What are the EIT RIS objectives?
The overarching objective of the EIT RIS is to contribute to the advancement of the innovation performance of the targeted countries and their regions by strengthening the capacity of their innovation enablers and actors and linkages among them (such as business accelerators, incubators, start-ups, scale-ups, businesses including SMEs, agencies, educational and research institutions and their infrastructures, etc.) through the dissemination of the KTI approach, the cornerstone of the EIT intervention logic.
More specifically, during the 2021-2027 period, the EIT RIS shall aim to deliver on the following objectives:
- improve the innovation capacities of the local ecosystem, via capacity building activities and closer interactions between the local KT innovation actors (such as, clusters, networks, regional public authorities, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), research organisations, Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutions, SMEs) and their activities;
- support the objective of attracting and facilitating the integration of potential new partners in the EIT KICs and link local innovation ecosystems to pan-European innovation ecosystems, including through the establishment of Co-Location Centres (CLCs) and RIS Hubs, as part of a “place-based” innovation approach;
- used as a bridge towards relevant Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategies (RIS3s);
- leverage additional private and public funding, with particular attention to European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).
How is the EIT RIS implemented?
The EIT RIS is an integral part of all the EIT KICs’ activities. The EIT KICs have a certain degree of flexibility in designing their own EIT RIS activities, in line with their multi-annual strategies and priorities, provided that the activities contribute towards achieving the EIT’s objectives and deliver the desired tangible deliverables and impact, especially in terms of widening participation in the EIT KICs.
All EIT KICs undertake a “place-based” innovation approach and engage local organisations to serve as EIT Hubs in EIT RIS countries and regions. Local organisations are selected through an open competitive selection process, and are designated to function as an EIT Hub for a specific EIT Knowledge and Innovation Community. The primary roles of the EIT RIS Hub are to ensure the visibility of the EIT Community and raise awareness of activities and cooperation opportunities for local players representing education, business and research areas, as well as, attracting and facilitating the engagement of new participants in EIT KIC activities. EIT RIS Hubs also liaise with the relevant national, regional and local authorities and facilitate the sharing of EIT Innovation Community expertise with them. To date there are more than 90 EIT Hubs in 18 EIT RIS countries representing EIT KICs.
The EIT RIS Guidance Notes detailing the implementation approach and rules:
How is the EIT RIS funded?
The EIT budget devoted to implementing EIT RIS activities, in the 2021-2027 period, will be at least 10% and maximum 15% of the overall EIT funding for existing and new KICs. The EIT grants funds to each EIT KIC for EIT RIS implementation. Each EIT KIC uses these funds in line with its strategy and designs its activities accordingly. Activities under EIT RIS aim at attracting and facilitate the integration of potential new partners with the EIT KICs, as well as, linking local innovation ecosystems to pan-European innovation ecosystems.
EIT RIS Innovation in action:
Below, a few example of EIT RIS activities delivered by the EIT Community
- EIT Climate-KIC, in cooperation with its EIT Hubs, runs its EIT RIS Accelerator since 2016. The Accelerator supports cleantech entrepreneurs from EIT RIS eligible countries and regions and provides education, training, networking opportunities and grants to businesses at the forefront of climate change adaptation and mitigation.
- Since 2018, EIT Digital runs an ARISE Venture Programme in cooperation with local accelerators. The programme, a two-stage competition, supports the establishment of deep-tech-based ventures.
- EIT Health introduced the InnoStars Awards programme specifically designed for business development and product validation in EIT RIS eligible countries. Selected candidates participate in the InnoStars Final pitch event.
- EIT InnoEnergy organises PowerUp! – the biggest competition for energy, cleantech, mobility, cybersecurity and smart city start-ups in Central and Eastern Europe. The Innovation Community also runs a pre-acceleration programme Primer in cooperation with its EIT Hubs.
- In 2017, EIT Health, EIT Food and EIT Raw Materials started to jointly run the EIT RIS cross-sectoral business creation programme, EIT Jumpstarter, for early stage entrepreneurs. The programme helps start-up teams to move their research from lab to market. Since 2020, EIT InnoEnergy, EIT Manufacturing and EIT Urban Mobility joined the organisation of the programme.
- EIT Food, together with its EIT Food Hubs, organises one of Europe's largest start-up competitions in the agrifood sector, in 15 EIT RIS countries of Eastern and Southern Europe. In each country, up to 10 innovative agrifood entrepreneurs or early-stage start-ups compete for two main Innovation Prizes of EUR 5 000 and EUR 10 000. The prizes help them develop new products and services to transform our food system, making it healthier, more sustainable and more trusted.
Fejuice and Hydrustent are examples of start-ups based in EIT RIS countries that took advantage of the entrepreneurship programmes available, taking them to greater success. Read more success stories here.
More information about EIT Innovation Communities’ RIS activities can be found here:
EIT RIS contacts
- EIT: Luke Incorvaja: luke.incorvaja[@]eit.europa.eu
- EIT Climate-KIC: Annalisa Spalazzi: annalisa.spalazzi[@]climate-kic.org
- EIT Digital: László Gulyás: laszlo.gulyas[@]eitdigital.eu
- EIT Food: Milda Krauzlis: milda.krauzlis[@]eitfood.eu; and; Elvira Domingo: elvira.domingo[@]eitfood.eu
- EIT Health: Monika Toth: monika.toth[@]eithealth.eu
- EIT InnoEnergy: Christo Balinow: christo.balinow[@]innoenergy.com
- EIT Manufacturing: Konstantinos Georgoulias: konstantinos.georgoulias[@]eitmanufacturing.eu
- EIT RawMaterials: Tina Zajc Benda: tina.benda[@]eitrawmaterials.eu
- EIT Urban Mobility: Bence Huba: bence.huba[@]eiturbanmobility.eu