Piloting demand-driven collaborative innovation models in Europe

Specific Challenge

Facilitating open innovation would ensure that ideas and knowledge are transformed into socio-economic value for European citizens. An important market failure in Europe is that it has an abundance of unexploited ideas and research results with considerable innovation potential, which are not being brought to the markets.

Some of the main issues are linked to the difficulty in matching demand and supply of ideas due to the great amount of information available and to the difficulties in communicating it. The latter can be aggravated by the lack of absorptive capacity and the difficulty of certain actors to formulate a demand for innovative ideas or to adopt/adapt existing ones.

In open innovation and collaborative innovation projects it is more difficult to find appropriate sources of funding, since investors might fail to identify the potential of such projects, the actors involved and they might perceive an increased level of risk stemming from such configurations.


Experimenting mechanisms to facilitate the match between supply and demand for innovative ideas, as well as the development of absorptive capacities within businesses and other knowledge users. Addressing such issues would facilitate knowledge co-creation among actors that better understand each other's needs and language.

The pilots need to address at least two of the following elements of the innovation eco-system:

  • Designing and piloting systematic ways of connecting innovation systems across Europe, so that knowledge flows from one to the other easily and meaningfully. One way of achieving this could be by facilitating human capital mobility and therefore the absorptive capacities of the parties involved. This could include ideas such as "Innovation Human Capital Vouchers" aimed at stimulating SMEs to contact higher education institutes in order to find a solution to their problems;
  • Focus on the skills and capabilities of businesses to tap into the European knowledge-base, by developing and piloting specific skills-sets that allows for an effective monitoring of new relevant knowledge, as well as skills that allow a better formulation of a demand for innovative solutions fit for the companies' needs (facilitating interaction between business and academia and/or between businesses);
  • Design and pilot public/private funding mechanisms aiming at increasing private funding participation in collaborative innovation projects, contributing to bring innovative ideas to the market. Such mechanisms could build on or combine existing mechanisms;
  • Piloting other concrete measures favouring collaborative forms of innovation from a demand-side point of view (i.e. with a focus on businesses needs).

All activities must be concrete experiments or pilots with quantifiable results. All piloted actions will be ready for replication and scale-up.

Activities that fall out of the scope of this call include: research activities, mapping of existing initiatives, collections of best practices, etc.

Applicants could include partners from different sectors, such as knowledge transfer offices, regional development agencies, business associations, business accelerators, networks bringing together businesses and academia, innovation hubs, innovation centres, investment funds, venture capital, crowdfunding platforms, research and technology organisations etc.

The action should take into account and coordinate with, where appropriate, with other EU and national initiatives in the field, such as those supported in the context of Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliances.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the order of EUR 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. This does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact

It is expected that by better linking demand and supply of ideas and knowledge through new collaborative models, the projects will contribute in the medium term to an increase of innovation and competitiveness in Europe. In addition, starting from in the short to medium term, they will promote socio-economic benefits for European citizens, through the co-creation of solutions adapted to their needs, enabled by increasing the capacity of companies to absorb information. In the long term, due to the replication and scale up potential that the pilots will demonstrate, this will contribute to creating a European innovation ecosystem able to transform ideas and knowledge into socio-economic value for the European citizens.

The mechanisms and pilots supported by this topic will improve the flow of information though collaborative models with increased business participation. By strengthening business innovation through empowering the innovators to screen, identify and formulate a demand for relevant information, as well as increasing their capacity to absorb it and turn it into value, the projects will contribute to boosting innovation across Europe.

Application date
Social sciences
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology