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Expanding Acceleration Ecosystems (HORIZON-EIE-2021-SCALEUP-01-01)

Incubators, accelerators and different types of 'company-builders' play a crucial role in providing start-ups with growth support. Due to the diverse innovation landscape in Europe, start-ups from better-connected innovation ecosystems benefit from more local accelerators with greater funding opportunities and more qualified business support services compared to their counterparts elsewhere[1]. This geographical gap often requires start-ups from less connected ecosystems to move to more established hubs elsewhere in Europe[2]. Consequently, there are fewer scale-ups in less connected innovation ecosystems, creating unbalanced business activity and employment opportunities. The Expanding Acceleration Ecosystems should reverse this flow by making 'modest' and 'moderate' innovation ecosystems more attractive to international companies interested in setting up their businesses outside the established centres and tapping into the potential of local ecosystems.

The action supports co-designed programmes of activities, of at least two (2) calendar years, proposed jointly by business acceleration entities located in less connected innovation ecosystems ('modest' and 'moderate') and innovation hubs ('strong innovators' and innovation leaders')[3], to improve the quality of business acceleration services, their network outreach and scale-up support, such as:

o share business acceleration related best practices, knowledge, tools and methods;
o exchange of promising start-ups and SMEs, including women-led businesses, involving participation in acceleration programmes abroad and introduction to foreign financing institutions;
o exchange of accelerator programme experts, including evaluators, thematic experts, mentors and investors;
o establishing links between local actors in developing ecosystems, particularly research, education institutions and local authorities and incoming start-ups, international accelerators and experts to enhance transfer of technology and knowledge to supply them with innovative solution;
o establishing a virtual platform with an overview of accelerator programmes, financial resources, mentors, events in partner ecosystems.

To ensure that the impact of the action goes beyond consortium members and their respective countries, it is encouraged that the consortium works closely with innovation agencies from their respective territories and beyond, and seeks for synergies with relevant EU initiatives such as the European Europe Network.

arget group(s): Business-acceleration providers such as incubators, accelerators, company-builders, innovation agencies, business clubs and networks, regional public authorities and educational institutions.
In today's competitive landscape, innovative companies thrive through the support of an ecosystem that provides additional capabilities, data, customers and knowledge. Network connectivity within and between innovation ecosystems greatly contributes to sustainable business growth with high societal value. An ecosystem focused on the meeting concrete needs of companies helps them to stimulate their expansion at European and global level and lead to accelerated growth.

This destination aims at strengthening and expanding cooperation between innovation players to better support the next generation of innovative companies whose solutions will lead the shift towards a more competitive EU and a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient world.

The actions of this destination will help innovation ecosystems to support companies to better sustain their growth and gain new competitive advantage. Besides stronger innovation performance, increased competitive sustainability and more rapid transitions to a green and digital society, ecosystem integration can provide companies with access to new markets and customers and contribute to disruptive strategies. By being actively engaged in their local, national and European networks, companies can increase their overall growth potential.
Expected impact

Proposals for topics under this destination should set out a credible pathway to contributing to elevating the scalability potential of business, and more specifically to one or several of the following impacts:
o Enhanced network connectivity within innovation ecosystems by reinforcing their capacity to support existing and emerging innovators and companies;
o Strengthened and expanded cooperation between innovation ecosystems worldwide;
o More inclusive and gender equal innovation ecosystems.

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