The Innovative Cities and Communities concept supports the research, development and innovation activities of university cities and towns, while implementing sustainable urban development in line with the EU’s objectives.

Of the Regional Development Fund, 8% of the funds have been allocated to sustainable urban development in the EU programme period 2021–2027.

The aim of project funding is to strengthen the expertise within and between cities and to develop innovation platforms that are significant on an international level.

Ecosystem agreements

The funded projects are based on the ecosystem agreements signed by the cities. The InnoCities will decide which projects are funded. The funding is granted by the regional councils.

The ecosystem agreements are funded jointly by the EU, the Finnish State and the cities, and the projects receive funding mainly from the European Union’s Innovation and Skills in Finland 2021−2027 programme. The bulk of the funding is ERDF funding for sustainable urban development and other public funding, with a total of approximately EUR 140 million available for the 2021–2027 programming period. The Finnish Government allocated a total of approximately EUR 21.6 million in funding from the Innovation and Skills in Finland programme to the implementation of ecosystem agreements for 2022 and nearly EUR 13 million for 2023.

ESF+ or JTF funding applications can also be implemented to support the goals of the ecosystem agreements.

Lead themes

In addition to the Cities’ priority areas, the strengths of different cities are utilised in cooperation revolving around lead themes or projects, which receive separate funding. The lead themes are nationally interesting themes that bring together the strengths of the cities.

The lead themes boost national competence and the use of development platforms and good practices. They also support the emergence of comprehensive, internationally significant work.

Innovation and competence networks

In addition to the InnoCities ecosystem agreements, the innovative cities and communities entity includes the ERDF’s national Innovation and Competence Networks theme. Its aim is to improve RDI operators’ ability to design and carry out cross-regional projects that aim to commercialise innovations on a large scale. The projects include innovation, development and investment projects that are carried out in close cooperation with the business community.

The Innovation and Competence Networks theme project funding applications are open to everyone.

The EU and the Finnish State finance the development of Innovation and Competence Networks with approximately EUR 27 million. The Finnish Government has allocated approximately EUR 6.9 million for the implementation of the national Innovation and Competence Network.

Preparatory projects will receive a maximum of EUR 50,000 in funding to prepare for the actual application process.

Innovation and Competence Networks theme ( [structural funds])