The new "Seal of Excellence" scheme will allow regions to recognise the quality label awarded to promising project proposals submitted under Horizon 2020, the EU´s research and innovation programme and promote their access to different funding sources like the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and other national or regional investment programmes.
Commissioners Corina Creţu, responsible for Regional Policy and Carlos Moedas, responsible for Research, Science and Innovation launched the initiative today at the OPEN DAYS - Week of European Regions and Cities.
Commissioner Corina Creţu said: "For 2014-2020, €100 billion worth of investments from the European Regional Development Fund will foster research and innovation, including over €32 billion earmarked to support SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs, the main drivers of innovation in Europe. The Seal of Excellence will help identify and support innovative projects and help them grow and compete internationally."
Commissioner Carlos Moedas said: "EU regions are already a major investor in quality research and innovation in Europe. Through the Seal of Excellence they can benefit from the world class Horizon 2020 evaluation system to easily identify the best projects in their regions to support with their funds".
Markku Markkula, President of the European Committee of the Regions said: "Thanks to the Seal of Excellence regions and cities can include in their innovation and investment plans outstanding SMEs projects that comply with their growth objectives and priorities. This is also why the European Committee of the Regions and the Commission will establish a Knowledge Exchange Platform for local and regional authorities, boosting synergies between Horizon 2020 and the European Structural and Investment Funds".
The "Seal of Excellence" quality label will be awarded to promising projects submitted under Horizon 2020 which could not secure funding due to budgetary constraints but received high assessment scores in the demanding and independent evaluation process. In its pilot phase, the "Seal of Excellence" will first be given to proposals by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) submitted under the SME instrument of Horizon 2020. The action could then be extended to cover more areas of Horizon 2020.
The ´Seal of Excellence´ initiative is a concrete example of the Commission´s broader commitment to maximise the impact of EU investments in research and innovation by improving synergies between Horizon 2020, the European Structural and Investment Funds and other EU programmes such as COSME and Erasmus+. This was also stipulated by President Juncker in his State of the Union speech on 9 September.
Horizon 2020, the EU´s research and innovation funding programme between 2014 – 2020, offers nearly €80 billion in investments for research and innovation projects to support Europe’s economic competitiveness. At least 20%, or nearly €9 billion from the programme´s ´leadership in industrial technologies´ and ´societal challenge´ pillars, is expected to benefit SMEs directly in the form of grants, including via the "SME Instrument".
Since 2013, the new rules governing investments under the European Structural and Investment Funds call for a more strategic and synergetic use of different EU funds for a greater impact on growth and jobs. With a budget of €450 billion for the 2014–2020 period, the European Structural and Investment Funds invest in key growth-generating areas such as innovation, support to SMEs, training and education, social inclusion and the low-carbon economy.
The OPEN DAYS – the European Week of Regions and Cities are co-hosted by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions. From 12 to 14 October 2015, 6,000 representatives from Europe´s regions and cities are gathering in Brussels for the 13th annual OPEN DAYS to exchange their views on how to fully exploit the potential of Cohesion Policy in terms of growth and job creation.