EIT Knowledge and Innovation Communities: Collaboration in a RIS3 Context

Publication article | | Nida Kamil Ozbolat, Karel Haegeman, Katerina Sereti

This report elaborates on the benefits and opportunities of collaboration between the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), its Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) and the communities involved in developing and implementing Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3), particularly Managing Authorities (MAs) of European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). In this way, the report analyses for the first time the relation between RIS3 and the approach of the EIT.


Innovation in the European Union is called upon to increase competitiveness, to improve territorial cohesion, and to address societal challenges. Challenge-driven innovation is also high on the global agenda and calls for building sufficient critical mass by taking full advantage of synergies and complementarities between innovation initiatives, in particular between cohesion policy and excellence-based innovation. 

This report investigates in particular the motivations, practices and opportunities for strengthening collaborations between the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Knowledge and Innovation Communities (EIT KICs) (focusing on excellencebased innovation) and the Managing Authorities of national and regional European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) (focusing on innovation in line with the cohesion policy), within the context of Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3).

Closer collaboration between the actors of RIS3 and of EIT KICs across Europe seems natural, as both aim at building Europe-wide value chains, encompass similar sets of stakeholders, and tackle similar societal challenges through innovation. However, collaboration does not seem to come naturally, given the limited practices to date. Detailed analysis of both conceptual and practical similarities and differences between both approaches and the related communities identifies arguments, opportunities and bottlenecks for increased collaboration. Different modes of collaboration are considered, as well as proposals to scale up current collaboration practices and unlock the collaboration potential.

The report aims to make an important practical contribution to optimising the efficiency of research and innovation spending, to combining the objectives of increased competitiveness and cohesion, to spreading excellence across the EU and its territories, and to better addressing the big challenges our society is facing on the eve of the launch of the new Multi-Financial Framework. More concretely, more collaboration between European R&I actors will help to build wider coalitions to support the European Green Deal, as well as other ambitions for Europe over the next five years and beyond, by involving territories and actors across the entire EU, as well the necessary excellence to achieve the ambitious objectives. 

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