Synergy approach and impact

Horizon Europe (until 2021 Horizon 2020), the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, and the European Structural and Investment Funds are the most important European funding programmes for research and innovation and offer extensive possibilities for dovetailing the two programme worlds and for collaboration. Tapping the potential for synergies between different EU funding programmes for research and innovation and profiting to a maximum degree in the process from all available funding instruments holds new opportunities for companies, scientists and researchers in North Rhine-Westphalia, yet at the same time confronts them with major challenges. Through synergies, the different measures for advancing technologies can be mutually complementing.

The European Council, Parliament and Commission have called for and supported the use of synergies between regional and European research and innovation funding for many years, with the goal of achieving a greater leverage effect of EU funds for the development of Europe’s regions. Here, operationalising synergies between various EU programmes and financial instruments is a key to maximising the quality and impact of research and innovation-related investment. With its Brückenbildung NRW pilot project, North Rhine-Westphalia was the first region Europe-wide to explore synergy building between the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP 7) and the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Horizon Europe (2021-2027) is to further enhance synergies with other EU programmes: This will range from conceptualisation and strategic planning to project selection, management, communication, dissemination and exploitation of results to monitoring, auditing and governance.

Under the slogan “Play your part!”, Synergien.NRW mobilises and trains research and innovation stakeholders and multipliers in North Rhine-Westphalia through targeted networking and exchange at regional, national and European level and empowers them to make better use of the potential for synergies. This creates the framework conditions in North Rhine-Westphalia needed for a greater level of participation in EU funding programmes as well as for the necessary transfer of results. As a consequence, research and innovations in North Rhine-Westphalia are supported more effectively and more closely interlinked.

A further focus of the project lies on networking and interregional cooperation between North Rhine-Westphalia and (industrialised) European regions as well as EU institutions (European Commission, European Committee of the Regions, etc.) on the topic of synergy building.

Between 2014 and 2020, North Rhine-Westphalia will receive a total of around € 1.212 billion from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which is being invested in the framework of the region’s Operational Programme for Investment and Growth out of the European Regional Development Fund (OP ERDF NRW) 2014-2020. For ERDF.NRW 2021-2027, around € 1.3 billion are expected for NRW from the European Regional Development Fund. Funds for cutting-edge research on about the same scale were secured by North Rhine-Westphalian research and innovation stakeholders in the Seventh Framework Programme. The funding raised in the current EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, is expected to exceed the ERDF budget by the end of the funding period. Funding from Horizon 2020 for NRW currently amounts to € 1.7 billion and is estimated to reach € 1.8 billion for the next funding period of Horizon Europe.

Synergies can dovetail the two programme worlds of regional and research policy more closely and facilitate efficient coordination between them. Technologies from cutting-edge European research can then be used – with the help of ERDF funding in North Rhine-Westphalia – to support the region’s research and innovation policy goals over the longer term.

Synergien.NRW supports the planning and implementation of North Rhine-Westphalia’s research and innovation policy by developing and testing strategies, methods and information products for the use of synergy potential between the EU’s research and innovation programmes on the one hand and the support measures in place in North Rhine-Westphalia on the other. The use of synergies through the combination of various EU funding programmes thus boosts the transfer of technology from research into innovative product developments, the embedding in European value chains and North Rhine-Westphalia’s overall position as a major economic hub. Once synergy potential has been utilised, other economic sectors in North Rhine-Westphalia can profit from the know-how generated.