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Policy Area Innovation (PA INNO):

  • Promotes a globally competitive position within innovation for sustainable economic growth in the BSR, and provides a strong platform for an enhanced macroregional collaborative ecosystem for innovation, research, SMEs and digitalization;

  • Enables shared learning through knowledge-transfer activities;

  • Creates and strengthens networks across the Baltic Sea region;

  • Aligns resources and regulations e.g. through coordination of funding sources;

  • Facilitates the joining up of forces in common programs and investments and in the development of solutions for common challenges;

  • Enhances BSR’s profile, visibility and attractiveness as a partner of choice for international innovation cooperation within and beyond the BSR.


Context and challenge

Innovation is one of the key themes of EUSBSR and BSR cooperation in general. It is a relevant element in all EUSBSR objectives and sub-objectives, especially concerning the ‘Increase prosperity’ goal (BSR as a frontrunner for deepening and fulfilling the single market; Improved global competitiveness of the BSR; Climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management).

In line with the focus of the EUSBSR action plan on emerging global challenges, PA INNO also focuses on tackling common BSR challenges by development of shared solutions and, on turning challenges into opportunities for sustainable growth in BSR.

EU’s Green Deal and ambitious and urgent goals on the twin digital and green transition further underline the importance of innovation cooperation in BSR and EUSBSR.

In EUSBSR, policy areas (PAs) are increasingly interlinked and interdependent. In PA INNO, due to the cross-sectoral nature of innovation, these interlinkages are especially important. Innovation is one of the key themes in most relevant funding programmes for EUSBSR implementation.

PAs have a leading role in ensuring the EUSBSR implementation and in achieving its objectives. PA INNO coordinators (PAC FI, PAC EE and PAC PL), with support and guidance of PA INNO steering group, are responsible for responding to the above important opportunity and tasks on the promotion of EUSBSR innovation cooperation.


Key PA achievements so far

PA INNO has helped versatile Baltic Sea region innovation cooperation to evolve into strategic and complementary actions with stronger impact and more scalable results. Altogether, 27 PA INNO flagships have been implemented during the EU programme period 2014-2021. PA INNO flagships such as BSR Stars, SUBMARINER Network, ScanBalt, Baltic Science Link and BSR Digi co-lab have produced numerous interesting and highly relevant results and new solutions in the fields such as research collaboration, health, blue growth, and circular and digital economy. PA INNO has supported the flagships in the project development, promotion, dissemination and scaling-up of their results, in policy learning and dialogue, and facilitated the development of the flagships’ follow-up/new project initiatives.

PA INNO has collaborated closely with the PA INNO Steering Group and BSR ERDF managing authorities, and it has been active in relevant high-level platforms, networks and meetings on EU, BSR and MRS innovation policy and cooperation, all the while attracting and engaging new BSR stakeholders. Through its many activities, PA INNO has facilitated active policy exchange, learning and dialogue in the Region, and it has contributed to the embedding of EUSBSR in relevant financing programmes.

PA INNO has organized numerous events across BSR, as well as in Brussels, and it has frequently contributed to relevant events through presentations and keynote speeches on EUSBSR/PA INNO, BSR, and its innovation potential and cooperation.

Regions have an important role in strengthening the commitment of all actors in BSR innovation ecosystems, including the business sector, to move forward with selected strategic direction within interregional cooperation. PA INNO has prioritised the role of regions and smart specialisation to ensure that innovation measures are designed to better meet the local and subregional level need of actions. BSR S3 Ecosystem Platform project, financed by Interreg BSR, led by Region Västerbotten and partnered by PAC FI representing PA INNO, has been a key framework and platform for PA INNO activities in and contribution to S3 related cooperation. PA INNO experiences and results on transnational S3 are providing strong evidence and basis for the next wave of S3 in the EU programming period 2021-2027.


Main themes and project topics

As regards innovation themes and topics under which concrete actions and projects are facilitated by PA INNO, the focus will be on the following three Actions based on the EUSBSR action plan:

Action 1: Challenge-driven innovation 

Macroregional challenge-driven innovation policies and actions aiming at fostering disruptive, breakthrough and market-shaping innovations to respond to the 21st century social, environmental, and economic grand challenges in the BSR (e.g. climate change, resource efficiency, demographic change, pandemics, rapid urbanization, healthy living and aging, clean energy, inclusive societies, sustainable food and feed production and various environmental challenges of the Baltic Sea). 

Potential topics

  • Sector/S3 priority-specific S3/4 initiatives (e.g. on blue growth, circular economy/industrial symbiosis, health, industry 4.0, smart cities, low carbon energy) having the potential to solve BSR challenges, to generate new business, and to encourage the development of BSR value chains;
  • Promotion of stronger BSR value/supply chains that would be able to respond to future undesired external disruptions;
  • Methods and tools for the facilitation of the systemic change needed for green transition and sustainable and inclusive growth;
  • Initiatives on public procurement for innovation (challenge-based procurement).

Action 2: Digital innovation and transformation

Digital transformation is a societal change in BSR. Emerging digital technologies such as AI, VR/AR, blockchain, robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) are key tools to tackle societal challenges, facilitate new businesses, innovations, services and more sustainable, usable and vital living environments and infrastructures, and develop BSR innovation (e.g. smart city initiatives) and startup ecosystems. 

Potential topics

  • Real-Time Economy; Development of common standards for interoperable public and private solutions;
  • Joint development and implementation of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs);
  • Digital, data-driven solutions for sustainable business and growth in BSR (promoting the twin transition in BSR), e.g. Digital transformation of (blue) bioeconomy /circular economy in BSR.

Action 3: Co-creative innovation

Ecosystems and platforms are emerging as key frameworks for economic and innovation activity also in the BSR. Transnational platforms and change agents are needed to connect Baltic Sea region innovation ecosystems and to engage the public as well as research and business groups in the collaborative process of co-creation in order to bridge the existing knowledge, skills and market access gaps for SMEs. Efficient transnational linkages and matching of end users, innovative firms and research partners for team co-creation, and access to other resources such as knowledge and prototyping is a critical success factor for co-creation scale up and growth. Transnational linkages allow organisations to tap into a larger base of ideas and technology, find complementary expertise and pool competencies in order to overcome barriers, such as lack of management resources.

Potential topics

As a horizontal theme / overarching approach to all EUSBSR PA INNO actions, co-creation principle can be applied to any topic/project to:

  • Scale up the use of co-creation among BSR SMEs through improving their capabilities and absorptive capacities to efficiently turn market demand driven ideas into innovations;
  • Connect innovation ecosystems across BSR through developing and piloting systematic models and practices to engage BSR SMEs, researchers, test facilities and end users in co-creation activities;
  • Facilitate the understanding and change of mindset among policy-makers and SMEs to scale up practical co-creation activities in BSR and;
  • Promote transnational cooperation and SMEs access to RDI infra, and transnational exchange and joint development between Innovation Infrastructure Organisations and incubators.