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New Seal of Excellence initiative to help regions make top research investments

The Commission is today launching a new initiative to ensure that taxpayer money is spent efficiently by improving the synergies between EU funding for regional policy and for research.

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.

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Courtesy of the European Commission