This Policy Brief addresses the concept of synergies arising from the two major EU funding sources (The European Structural and Investment Funds and Horizon 2020) in the context of the new Stairway to Excellence Project. This project is centred on the provision of assistance to Member States who joined in 2004, 2007 and 2013 in using innovation funding under ESIFs via the early and effective implementation of RIS3 with the aim of closing the innovation gap and promote scientific and technological excellence. This Policy Brief summarises the discussion and case studies presented at the launching conference of the Stairway to Excellence Project held in Prague in October 2014. This event offered a first opportunity to identify the key elements for building successful synergies and gave a useful insight into how synergies could be achieved in practice. A diverse set of experiences from five EU countries (Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Spain, and the UK) and an international organisation were presented. In turn, this could be a source of inspiration for other regional and national managing authorities and the research community.