Stairway to Excellence Stairway to Excellence

A new phase of STAIRWAY TO EXCELLENCE (S2E) began in the second half of 2018. Updates on project activities will be posted here shortly.

What is Stairway to Excellence

The "Cohesion Policy and the synergies with the research and development funds: the STAIRWAY TO EXCELLENCE (S2E)" project was launched in 2014. It is currently implemented as part of the JRC's Smart Specialisation targeted support activities.

The Stairway to Excellence (S2E) project aims to support EU member states and their regions in developing and exploiting the synergies between European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), Horizon 2020 (H2020) and other EU funding programmes and:

  • Assist them in closing the innovation gap, in order to promote excellence in all regions and EU countries;
  • Stimulate the effective implementation of national and regional Smart Specialisation Strategies.

Activities of S2E

Background for the Project

National Events

National Events were organised in EU13 Member States to:

  • Ease understanding of national and regional innovation ecosystems
  • Raise awareness to enable synergies between EU funding programmes
  • Share experiences in combining Structural Funds and Framework Programme to improve excellence
  • Draw lessons for the future and identify follow-up actions to enhance potential synergies  

Country & Region Information

Quantitative and Qualitative information were produced for EU13 member states and their regions:

  • National and Regional Fact & Figures aim to draw the European profile of a country/ region with statistical and financial information coming from the EU's 7th Framework Programme and Structural Funds dedicated to research and innovation. 
  • S2E Country Reports provide further analysis on selected policy issues that affect optimal use and the combination of key EU funds for R&I and offer country-tailored policy suggestions aiming to tackle the weaknesses identified in the analysis.


     BG         HR           CY           CZ          EE           HU           LV          LT           MT           PL          RO          SK           SI

R&I Regional Viewer

The R&I Regional Viewer (ESTAT/ ESIF/ H2020 data) is a tool allowing to visualize and compare Research & Innovation investments under different funding channels and EU programmes across EU Regions, i.e. economic indicators from Eurostat, planned R&I-related investments under ESIF, and Horizon 2020 funding captured by stakeholders.

Synergies examples

Synergies examples are provided in which SF/ ESIF and FP7/ H2020 funds have been combined in order to amplify the R&I investments and their impact, using different forms of innovation and competitiveness support, or carrying innovative ideas further along the innovation cycle or value chain to bring them to the market.

Relevant Instruments, Platforms, Projects and Documents

Fiches are available on a selection of European instruments/ platforms/ concepts that can be considered as facilitators especially for "downstream activities", to exploit and diffuse results from earlier programming period (FP7) and current one (H2020), and as key elements in monitoring the implementation of synergies in their various forms.

Beyond the Reference Documents (below) and Related Links (left), there are a number of Relevant Initiatives, Projects and Platforms for Cohesion Policy and the synergies with the research and development funds.

We gather Related Documents relevant to Cohesion Policy and the synergies with the research and development funds, including guidance for Policy-Makers, Implementing Bodies and Beneficiaries of EU Funds and instruments issued by the European Commission or other bodies.


Frequently Asked Questions relate to practical application of the Guidance on synergies between ESIF, Horizon2020 and other research, innovation and competitiveness-related Union programmes.

A list of acronyms is also available.


Events Events

Smart Specialisation: monitoring and evaluation State of the play and next steps

Given its experimentalist and result-oriented approach, Smart Specialisation places a strong emphasis on the role of monitoring and evaluation.

Learning Lab on "Supporting mechanisms for capacity building in framework programme participation (H2020/Horizon Europe)"

This event is designed as a Mutual Learning Event where cases showing good practices will be shared and discussed, and where participants may present...

ICT NCPs network (Ideal-ist) information day

New collaborative models for ICT projects and the increasing role of territoriality and RIS3
View more

Latest News Latest News

"Made in the EU" Smart Specialisation inspires the world

The EU's approach to regional economic development through Smart Specialisation is gaining a world-wide following. The JRC organises the first...

JRC and Climate KIC sign collaboration agreement

Vladimír Šucha, Director General, Joint Research Centre (JRC), and Kirsten Dunlop, Chief Executive Officer, Climate-KIC, have signed a...

Seminar on synergies between funding in the aeronautics field

The Stairway to excellence project and the Cleansky Joint undertaking are organising a Seminar with the Member States and Regions on Synergies...
View more