International development lab (Policy support) International development lab (Policy support)


Developed by JRC as part of its RIS3 targeted support activities, Project Development Labs (PDL) aim to further develop business ideas identified in Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) focus groups. The approach has potential to address the shortage of internationalisation and the need for multiple funding sources for project implementation. The concept of International PDLs has been tested in Centro region (Portugal) to bring a stronger international dimension into the design, the partnerships and the funding of initial ideas. Internationalisation and diversification of funding sources are two challenges for RIS3 implementation in Centro. The initiative constitutes a collaboration between S2E and the JRC Lagging Regions project.


Work conducted

  • Methodological development: International Project Development Labs further advance earlier experiences in Greece with PDLs by reinforcing four dimensions: widen local stakeholder engagement, reinforce international dimension, enrich funding and collaboration portfolio, and embed PDL in wider initiatives. A refined methodology is developed using a participatory working meeting alternated with brief pitches from experts related to idea design, partnering and funding.
  • Testing: Building on the outcomes of an EDP focus group in Centro region (25 May 2017) under the JRC Lagging Regions project, the approach was tested during an International PDL on the wine value chain on 19th June 2018 in Anadia (Portugal). Local stakeholders worked with national and international R&I networks and funders (such as Climate KIC, Biobased Industry Joint Undertaking, Winetwork under H2020, etc.) to test early integration of business ideas at design phase into international value chains and R&I agendas, aiming to optimise the market potential of the proposals that are in the pipeline.
  • Five working groups developed detailed project ideas together with international experts, including potential impact, barriers, funding options and international partners. The approach was perceived as innovative by lab participants.

Lessons learned

  • Early involvement of international networks in the design of projects is essential for increasing their innovative character, avoiding unnecessary duplication with projects elsewhere, positioning projects in international R&I agenda's, testing their relevance for an EU wide application, and for identifying potential funding sources early on.
  • It is not all about seeking funding, much can be gained from collaborating with existing initiatives, such as participation of local stakeholders in international training programmes, use of existing project results, collaborating with international partners in project implementation, etc. Too often a project idea translates directly in a search for funding without considering existing alternatives.
  • The international PDL brings together lessons from other activities developed under S2E III, and brings them together in one territory around one specific topic. E.g. collaboration modes with EIT KICs (i.c. Climate KIC) or with Joint Undertakings (i.c. BBI JU) prove to have good potential for wine in Centro region.
  • The lab created a momentum. At the same time the event showed that complementary activities are needed for the lab to have a lasting impact, including:
  • targeted support and good follow-up, including the need to establish a group of core members for each working group and to offer support to further advance the work of the working groups;
  • additional measures to increase internationalisation, such as international mobility programmes for short stays abroad to increase the degree of internationalisation among entrepreneurs and researchers;
  • consideration of rural specificities, in particular the socio-political dimension of RIS3 implementation in rural areas, e.g. through the involvement of additional local actors, particularly representatives of municipalities, as they have crucial capacities, resources and political power to support local innovation and economic growth;
  • the need for the regional RIS3 team to make resources available to manage stakeholder engagement with a particular focus on wine (thematic priority manager);
  • the need to reinforce multi-level governance of RIS3, between local, regional and national levels
  • support to entrepreneurship and increase of business participation in project development.


Related report

  • Haegeman, K, Harrap, N, Torrecillas, C, Arregui, E, Valero, S (2018):  A structured approach to International Project Development Labs – The case of the wine value chain in Centro region  (JRC Internal report)