The EIT Regional Innovation Scheme (EIT RIS) was introduced in 2014 to boost the innovation performance of countries with moderate or modest innovation scores as defined by the European Innovation Scoreboard. The RIS is steered by the EIT and implemented through the EIT's Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). Since its establishment, it has successfully led to a significant expansion of EIT Community activities to more countries and regions across Europe, contributing to a pan-European spread of EIT Community opportunities and networks.
Countries eligible to take part in the EIT RIS (2021-2024):
- EU Member States: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia
- Horizon Europe Associated Countries*: Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Türkiye, Ukraine
- Outermost Regions: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte and Saint-Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal), and the Canary Islands (Spain)
Who can participate?
Any entity from an RIS-eligible country or region can participate in EIT RIS activities. Each EIT KIC will engage with local innovation actors through the RIS. "Innovation actors" can be individual students, researchers, and entrepreneurs. They can also take the form of organisations like SMEs, universities, research labs, regional governments, NGOs, and cities. The EIT KICs will also involve local players in education, business creation and acceleration, and innovation-driven research.
What are the EIT RIS objectives?
The goal is to boost the innovation performance of eligible countries and their regions. The RIS does so by strengthening the capacity of innovation actors and the links between them.
During the 2021-2027 period, the EIT RIS will aim to deliver on the following objectives:
- Improve the innovation capacities of the local ecosystem via capacity building activities and closer interactions between local innovation actors (such as clusters, networks, regional public authorities, Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), research organisations, Vocational Education and Training (VET) institutions, or SMEs)
- Help attract and facilitate the integration of potential new partners into 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
- Act 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)
Want to know where to find your EIT RIS Hub?
The EIT just drew up this interactive map for you.
How is the EIT RIS implemented?
The EIT RIS is an integral part of all the EIT KICs’ activities. The EIT KICs have a degree of flexibility in designing their own RIS activities (in line with their multi-annual strategies and priorities) provided that the activities contribute towards achieving the EIT’s objectives in an impactful way.
All EIT KICs use 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 competition and are designated to function as an EIT Hub for a specific EIT KIC. The primary role of the EIT RIS Hubs are to make the EIT Community more visible and raise awareness of its activities and cooperation opportunities for local players in education, business, and research. They also attract and facilitate the engagement of new participants in EIT KIC activities. EIT RIS Hubs can liaise with relevant national, regional, and local authorities and facilitate the sharing of EIT 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 2021-2027 EIT budget for implementing EIT RIS activities will be at least 10% and at most 15% of the overall EIT funding for KICs. The EIT grants funds to each KIC for EIT RIS implementation. Each KIC uses these funds in line with its strategy and designs its activities accordingly.
EIT RIS Innovation in action:
Here are a few example of EIT RIS activities delivered by the EIT Community:
The ClimAccelerator supports businesses across eight EIT-funded ClimAccelerator programmes. This includes four thematic ClimAccelerators which operate throughout the EU and four place-based ClimAccelerator consortia in RIS countries. ClimAccelerator programmes provide education, training, networking, grants, and investment opportunities to start-ups and scale-ups at the forefront of climate change adaptation and mitigation in the following RIS ClimAccelerator consortia and countries:
- MED: Malta, Cyprus, & Portugal
- Black Sea: Romania & Bulgaria
- Beyond: Czechia, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, & Greece
- Baltics & Slovakia: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, & Slovakia
Since 2018, EIT Digital runs the ARISE Venture Programme in cooperation with local accelerators. This two-stage competition supports the establishment of deep tech-based ventures. On average, EIT Digital has attracted around 180 - 200 submissions each year from countries across the RIS region.
A success story in their RIS Venture programme is the start-up, VisionAnchor. VisionAnchor was selected by EIT Digital’s experts during the RIS Venture programme as one of the best in the cohort. EIT Digital gave it mentoring, coaching, and initial funding. VisionAnchor continued this partnership by applying to the EIT Digital Innovation Factory programme. They were ultimately selected and have since become a member of the EIT Digital ecosystem.
EIT InnoEnergy’s start-up programmes pay special attention to the EIT RIS areas by providing them greater support and promotion of their activities. EIT InnoEnergy is cooperating with renowned science bloggers, inviting them to its flagship event "The Business Booster (TBB)" in Lisbon. There, the bloggers can meet start-ups from RIS countries in EIT InnoEnergy’s portfolio. Mr. Maciej Kawęcki, PhD, presented the potential of their assets, EcoBean, Sunroof, and The Batteries, in his social media accounts on LinkedIn (3 219 likes, 272 630 views), Facebook (3 890 likes and 185 811 views), TikTok (23 746 likes and 422 020 views) and Twitter (5 914 likes, 309 442 views).
EIT InnoEnergy, in cooperation with EIT Climate-KIC and Accelpoint, started the ClimAccelerator programme. They are looking for the most promising sustainable and green energy solutions interested in developing on the Polish market. Selected teams receive mentoring, business development, and investment support.
EIT Health's Attract To Invest programme prepares companies with products or services in the European market for successful investment rounds. Attract to Invest uses Board Meeting Simulations sprints, where dedicated consultants and investors pose real-life questions and challenges to the selected 15 contestants. Finalists are further supported through funding, networking, mentoring, and other fundraising training services. The first edition of Attract to Invest (2022) has raised over 70 applicants. This programme is suitable for micro, and small enterprises, spin-offs and start-ups that:
- Have a prototype, MVP or final product available for customers in at least one EU market
- Have a product/service already generating revenue
- Are registered as a legal entity in one of the following countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Türkiye
The EIT RawMaterials RIS Internship programme offers structured one-to-three-month internships for MSc raw materials (RM) students willing to work at organisations in the RIS region. Territorial coverage of the project includes the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Slovakia. The around 367 students will work in 300 companies. It is estimated that about 40 students will remain employed in the industry after graduation. Train-the-trainer activities focused on 270 industry supervisors will additionally increase the interns' entrepreneurship/business skills and broaden University-Business Cooperation (UBC) activities. The programme will encourage RM graduates to seek employment in RIS country industry and reduce brain drain from the East and South-East Europe region.
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.
With the Sales Booster programme, EIT-Food helps agrifood entrepreneurs expand their business outside their home market. It's a unique opportunity for high-impact agrifood startups in RIS-eligible countries to create a roadmap to internationalisation. They benefit from customized coaching by sales experts and access to the EIT Food industry network. The programme is also open to innovative solutions or scientific applications not directly related to the agrifood business. Sales Booster serves as a pipeline for RIS-based scale-ups.
The EIT Manufacturing LEADERS programme selects women innovators developing solutions with high potential impact in manufacturing. In 2021, the LEADERS program supported 30 women from 17 RIS countries with pitch trainings. It awarded prize money to three winners.
EIT Urban Mobility
EIT Urban Mobility introduced the Rapid Applications for Transport (RAPTOR) in 2021. RAPTOR is an innovation programme that takes the urban mobility challenges of cities and runs a competition to find the best solutions from start-ups/SMEs. It then provides a period of solution development, capped with an in-situ demonstration. Thanks to its success, RAPTOR started a special pilot in 2022 dedicated to eastern and central European RIS cities such as Prague, Riga, Tallinn, Cluj-Napoca, and Bratislava. EIT Urban Mobility supports the competition winners financially with a support package worth EUR 50 000. Winners also get to develop and test their solutions from August to December 2022.
Cross KIC/EIT Jumpstarter
Six EIT KICs jointly run EIT Jumpstarter, their Cross-sectoral Business Creation programme for early-stage entrepreneurs. It helps start-up teams move their research from the lab to the market. More than 750 innovative teams were trained between 2017 and 2022. They received support in validating their business cases and creating their business models. Out of those 750 teams, 45 started a company during the programme. The KICs' goal for the next three years is to train another 630 innovative teams and create 156 technology-based start-ups with a particular focus on Ukraine and the Western Balkans.
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 Regional Innovation Scheme Activity Reports
EIT RIS contacts
- EIT: Luke Incorvaja: luke.incorvaja[@]eit.europa.eu
- EIT Climate-KIC: Beatriz Camacho Avila: beatriz.camacho[@]climate-kic.org, Nasko Vangelov: nasko.vangelov[@]climate-kic.org
- EIT Digital: Tuan Trinh: tuan.trinh[@]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: Pior Pawelec: piotr.pawelec[@]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, Laszlo Soos: soos.laszlo[@]eiturbanmobility.eu