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Smart Specialisation for systemic eco-innovation/circular economy
Deadline: Mar 8, 2016  

 Natural Resources
 Horizon Europe

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Regions are key players in the transition to a circular economy and can together create new circular economy value chains with critical mass. However, knowledge of each other's strengths and the available resources and services is often limited. Developing joint strategies, built on complementarities and respective strengths, can therefore be valuable for better realising their individual and combined potential.


The purpose is to support a transition towards the circular economy in European regions in synergy with Smart Specialisation strategies. A systemic approach should be adopted that seeks connections between sectors, value chains, markets, natural resources and relevant societal actors. The project should develop a coherent EU reference framework enabling and encouraging regions and Member States to establish operational synergies between R&I investments from Horizon 2020 and the European Structural and Investment Funds leading to market uptake and replication of innovative solutions. The developed reference framework should include recommendations for policy makers, in particular in EU Cohesion countries, providing guidance on how to invest European Structural and Investment Funds to support the transition to a circular economy within the context of existing smart specialisation strategies.

Participants must be regional authorities and/or national/regional/local structures responsible for the implementation of Smart Specialisation strategies.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1 million and EUR 1.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Realisation of complementarities between existing smart specialisation strategies of a sufficient number of regions, addressing all of the following elements:

  • identification of concrete sectors or areas with high potential to support a transition to a circular economy, within a European reference framework;
  • investment needs per region and sector/area to enhance existing smart specialisation strategies of involved regions;
  • operational actions to connect the activities of the identified sectors/areas of involved regions in view of trans-national cooperation along relevant value chains;
  • development of policy support advisory services that enable regions to invest EU funds to leapfrog to circular economy solutions in achieving compliance with EU objectives and targets.

Such cooperation in the implementation of smart specialisation strategies should lead to a measurable transition towards a circular economy within the identified sectors/areas, in the regions and Member States involved. The transition can be measured in, for example: application of new business models; application of adjusted value or production chains; application of new product and/or service design; or 30% increase in resource efficiency.

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