2017 Innovation Express Call Info

Looking back at 2017

date 02.06.2017


What is Innovation Express?

Innovation Express – a common European approach for supporting the internationalisation of SMEs through cluster initiatives.

The funding instrument aimed at facilitating internationalisation, smart specialisation, and cross-border learning and competence development by developing transnational linkages between SME networks, clusters and other specialised research and innovation nodes – for the benefit of their members.

Innovation Express represents a joint call for proposals implemented within the framework of the BSR Stars programme – a flagship of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region which fosters macro-regional smart specialisation. The call is funded by national/regional funding agencies to initiate, develop or enhance transnational cooperation activities – leveraging cluster organisations (or similar) to develop proposals for their SME members.

Applications were evaluated based on their potential to create benefits for participating cluster initiatives and companies, along with criteria from regional/national funding organisations.


Scope and opening of the call

Innovation Express partners (see “funding, cooperation and extended partners for Innovation Express” below) supported proposals submitted by groups of SMEs and/or cluster governances located in their geographical area and addressing transnational cooperation activities that benefit their SME members.

A broad variety of innovation activities, including technology/knowledge transfer, training, feasibility studies, strategic analysis and mutual benchmarking are supported, as well as many different stages of international cooperation (from initial contact and networking through to the final set up of a long-term innovation project). Within the framework of BSR Stars, there is a particular focus on supporting linkages between clusters with complementary fields of expertise (cross-sectoral) in order to tackle shared challenges or pursue international market opportunities through collaborative efforts. A further particular focus in the 2017 call is supporting linkages between clusters with a comprehensive attention towards sustainability (environmental or social).

Please refer to the table of supported innovation activities for each funding partner (below), and get in touch with the relevant contact person for more detailed information.

Denmark Danish Agency for Institutions and Educational Grants A B C D E F G H Mr. Hans Henrik Lomholt

Lithuania Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology

A B D E F G Ms. Daiva

Norway Innovation Norway

A B C D E F G H Mr. Hans Eirik Melandsø



Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth


(special focus on “the 6 constellations”)

Ms. Ewa Andersson

Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management

Ms. Charlotta Stadig



Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing A B C D E F G H Ms. Andrea Krueger


Catalonia ACCIÓ

A B C F H Ms. Emma Vendrell

A: Workshops and study trips

B: Networking and speed-dating activities

C: Market research activities

D: Technology/knowledge transfer

E: Recruitment/training/education

F: Cross-sectorial inter-cluster activities

G: Feasibility studies and piloting prior to RDI projects

H: Inter-cluster strategy development activities


Targeted cluster initiatives or SME networks can be located within the Baltic Sea Region, or elsewhere within or outside Europe. All activity sectors are eligible. However, Sweden has a particular focus on “the 6 constellations” (see more in the documents section below).

Submission of proposals possible from 2 June – 31 October 2017.


Application process

Targeted beneficiaries and eligibility criteria

Innovation Express targets groups of SMEs and/or cluster initiatives and their partners (e.g. technology providers, large companies, universities, research centres, etc.). With their proximity to firms, cluster organisations (or similar) are considered as an effective vehicle for involving SMEs which have more difficulties to develop international cooperation. They can also help them identify relevant partners to initiate trust-building processes and generate market impact.

Eligible applicants are SME networks or cluster governances located within a geographical area where an Innovation Express funding or extended partner is present (see funding and extended partners below). Proposals must be submitted by the representative of the SME network/cluster initiative for the benefit of its SME members – in accordance with them and driven by their internationalisation needs.

Eligibility criteria:

  • The applicant is a legal entity representing an SME network, cluster initiative or other specialised research and innovation environment.
  • The applicant is located in a geographical area where an Innovation Express funding or extended partner is present.
  • Proposed activities must include the participation of at least 3 SMEs. (The participation of even more SMEs is strongly recommended. Participation of large companies, company associations, universities, research organisations, and other public organisations is encouraged; however these cannot be the sole beneficiaries.)
  • Applications must target another cluster initiative or SME consortia in at least one other country (within the BSR or elsewhere internationally).
  • Other eligibility criteria may be defined directly by the funding organisations.

Special, local requirements:

Sweden: Specific, Swedish requirements, I/II (pdf), On Cross Clustering – Special, Swedish Requirements, II/II (pdf)

Denmark: DK special requirements (pdf)  

Application via joint online application portal

Application forms (in word format) can be accessed in the Document Overview the BSR Stars homepage ( for preparatory purposes.

Proposals must be in line with the supported innovation activities and other guidelines outlined by the funding agency in the applicant’s geography (to be found on funding agency’s own website). It is required that applicants contact their local BSR Innovation Express contact person (see above) in order to be informed about funding conditions.

Application forms were to be completed in English via an online application portal. by 31 October, 2017 at the latest.

Completion and submission of additional forms was required (according to guidelines defined by Innovation Express funding/extended partners).


Funding, cooperation and extended partners for  the 2017 Innovation Express

  • LT: Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA)
  • NO: Innovation Norway
  • SE: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket), Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (HoV)
  • Baden-Württemberg, DE: Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing
  • Catalonia, ES: ACCIÓ, Government of Catalonia
  • DK: Danish Agency for Institutions and Educational Grants


Funding process

All proposals are expected to provide:

  • Clarity and relevance of the content of the transnational cooperation activities (action plan)
  • Added value and benefits for cluster/network initiatives and SME members involved
  • Identification of clear outputs/deliverables or expected results
  • For repeat applicants, description of the development of the partnership and motivation for continued/more ambitious activities – including how will build on previous results The funding decision (i.e. the level of funding and the costs covered) will be made dependent on the scope of the proposal (kind of activities, partners involved, etc.) and on the guidelines of the relevant national/regional funding agency. All usual national or regional programme rules apply. The amount of money granted from funding partners will depend on the national/regional schemes used. It is expected that the amount granted will be 10-60.000 EUR per approved project per country.  Contact points across the BSR
  • In addition to the funding partners (listed above), other regional and national organisations are involved as associated partners in the Innovation Express call. Both funding and associated partners agree to serve as a source of information regarding cluster initiatives in their geography (e.g. which exist, their areas of specialisation, their desired areas of collaboration, contact names, etc.), and will help to “open doors” and facilitate initial contacts between cluster initiatives.

Finding partners

Funding decisions were communicated mid December 2017.

Funding decisions were made by regional/national funding agencies and communicated/registered in the common database.

All submitted proposals were registered in a common database and distributed to the relevant funding agency.



Iceland Innovation Center Iceland

  Ms. Arna Lára Jónsdóttir

Estonia Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

  Kaie Nurmik
Finland Ministry of Employment and the Economy

  Pirjo Kutinlahti


Germany German Cluster Excellence Initiative go-cluster c/o

VDI/VDE-Innovation + Technik GmbH,

  Gerd Meier zu Koecker

Latvia Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia

  Evita Feldberga
Poland Ministry of Economic Development


Agnieszka Malkowsk
Sweden VINNOVA – Sweden’s Innovation Agency

  Lars-Gunnar Larsson


Matchmaking event in Stuttgart 20-21 September 2017

In connection with the BSR Stars Innovation Express call, a Cluster Matchmaking Conference was hosted by the Baden Württemberg Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing, targeted at cluster organisations and SME networks wishing to explore opportunities for international collaboration on behalf of their members. The programme focused on cluster to cluster matchmaking, workshops and other opportunities to establish cooperation. The matchmaking event was organised in close collaboration with Cluster Excellence Denmark.

Conference invitation: 5th C-2-C Matchmaking Conference Invitation flyer

Additional resources

Contacting Eureka representatives in your home country

Additional information
For more information about the Innovation Express Instrument, you are welcome to contact Hans Henrik Lomholt ( at the Danish Agency for Institutions and Educational Grants, coordinating project manager of the BSR Stars Innovation Express in 2016 and 2017.