Innovation actions in new EUSBSR Action Plan

The European Commission has approved the revised EUSBSR Action Plan on 17 February 2021 and the revision process is now completed.

The revised Action Plan brings along, among others, the following elements to the Strategy:

  • 14 Policy Areas, no more Horizontal Actions
  • Neighbours & Climate are mainstreamed
  • Empowers stakeholders & increases ownership
  • Baltic Sea Strategy Point to provide administrative and technical support

The new EUSBSR Action Plan can downloaded from here

From 2021 onwards, PA INNO will focus on the following three priorities (Actions):

Action 1: Challenge-driven innovation

Macroregional challenge-driven innovation policies and actions aim at fostering disruptive, breakthrough and market-shaping innovations to respond to the 21st century social, environmental, and economic grand challenges in the BSR (e.g. climate change, resource efficiency, demographic change, pandemics, rapid urbanization, healthy living and aging, clean energy, inclusive societies, sustainable food and feed production and various environmental challenges of the Baltic Sea).

Building on the strong background and experience on challenge-based innovation cooperation, and leveraging and scaling up the successes and best practices, stronger innovation ecosystems can be created and common BSR challenges tackled by developing shared solutions and related new pan-Baltic value chains.

The aim is to turn challenges into opportunities for sustainable growth in BSR.


Action 2: Digital innovation and transformation

Digital transformation is a societal change in BSR. Emerging digital technologies such as AI, VR/AR, blockchain, robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) are key tools to tackle societal challenges, facilitate new businesses, innovations, services and more sustainable, usable and vital living environments and infrastructures, and develop BSR innovation (e.g. smart city initiatives) and startup ecosystems.


  • to develop common standards for interoperable public and private solutions (e.g. e-identity) and promote harmonizing of data – supporting transfer of solutions across BSR, new market opportunities and globally more competitive digital ecosystems.
  • to give businesses and public service providers opportunities to analyze, evaluate, develop, co-create and test new ideas and services together.
  • to promote knowledge sharing and institutional capacity building within digitalization to facilitate digital transformation and bridge digital divides in BSR.


Action 3: Co-creative innovation

Innovation ecosystems (local, regional or sector-based) are emerging as key frameworks for economic and innovation activity also in BSR. Transnational platforms and change agents are needed to connect BSR innovation ecosystems. Co-creative and open innovation as key innovation methods.


  • To scale up the use of co-creation among BSR SMEs through improving their capabilities and absorptive capacities to efficiently turn market demand driven ideas into innovations
  • To connect innovation ecosystems across BSR through developing and piloting systematic models and practices to engage BSR SMEs, researchers, test facilities and end users in co-creation activities
  • To facilitate the understanding and change of mindset among policy-makers and SMEs to scale up practical co-creation activities in BSR and
  • To promote transnational cooperation and SMEs access to RDI infra, and transnational exchange and joint development between Innovation Infrastructure Organisations and incubators.

Key themes and tasks of Policy Area Innovation in 2021:

PA INNO actively follows and contributes to the preparation of the relevant new EU 2021-2027 funding instruments
. Together with its ongoing flagships, and when relevant, with other Policy Areas, PA INNO contributes to programmes’ consultation processes, participates in relevant events and discussions and dialogue with the programmes and their managing authorities, other relevant national authorities, the Commission and other stakeholders. It actively promotes and disseminates PA INNO flagships’ results and their recommendations and proposals for new actions and projects. During 2021, PA INNO aims to make a strong contribution to policies, actions and instruments of the EU’s post-2020 innovation agenda, and facilitate the creation of a strong basis – with concrete need- and challenge-driven project initiatives – for the implementation of the new EUSBSR action plan with EU 2021-2027 instruments.

In 2021, a number of PA INNO flagships which started in 2018-2020 are being implemented and finalized. PA INNO supports the ongoing flagships in promotion, dissemination and scaling-up of their results, in policy learning and dialogue, and facilitates the development of the flagships’ follow-up/new project initiatives. PA INNO promotes, participates and contributes to the flagships’ events, and invites flagships’ representatives to present and discuss the projects’ results and their scaling-up and utilization in PA INNO steering committee meetings.

PA INNO also supports dissemination, policy learning and scaling-up activities of ongoing Interreg BSR platform projects consisting of and led by PA INNO flagships: ‘BSR S3 Ecosystem’ (with PAC-FI as a partner), and ‘Blue Platform – Advancing Blue Bioeconomy Capacities in the Baltic Sea Region’ by Submariner Network. Furthermore, PA INNO contributes as a partner (PAC FI) to the ‘GoSmart&Excel – Strengthening smart specialisation by fostering transnational cooperation and practical application of novel solutions for regions and SMEs’ extension project under Interreg BSR.

New areas and topics of innovation cooperation projects are identified and supported in line with the new PA INNO action plan and new EU 2021-2027 programme priorities. PA INNO serves as a co-creation and matchmaking platform for new ideas and BSR opportunities. The aim is to engage new BSR innovation stakeholders to PA INNO activities, and to broaden PA INNO actions’ funding base towards EU programmes such as Horizon Europe, Digital Europe and I3, with also European-wide/cross-macroregional partnerships. Furthermore, a strong focus in 2021 is in the promotion and facilitation of macroregional/PA INNO actions in the framework of mainstream structural fund programmes in BSR (coordinated calls, joint/coordinated actions between mainstream programme projects).

Current PA INNO flagships/flagship leaders and networks such as Submariner Network for BlueGrowth, ScanBalt, BSR S3 Ecosystem (and its S3 partner projects), BSR Digi co-lab (Real-Time Economy) and Baltic Science Link are supported as they are developing and promoting their new project ideas and initiatives. PA INNO (PACs) also participates in some new projects as a partner responsible e.g. for policy exchange and learning and dissemination.

Special support is also provided for ongoing PA INNO seed money projects funded by Interreg BSR: ‘DNA – Digihealth Nordic Acceleration’; DigiResBSR – Digital Innovation Research Community for the BSR’; ‘Regions 4 Future: enabling policy mix tool and training to expand 5G&AI for regional single market development’; ‘Distance LAB’; and a joint PA Hazards – PA INNO project ‘Change(K)now!: Innovative approaches to behavior change in consumption pattern for fostering reduction of hazardous substance to the Baltic Sea’; as well as ‘The Alliance Accelerator service offer of the SUBMARINER Network for Blue Growth’.


Coordination, management and communication:

The above PA INNO actions and the ‘PACINNO-2’ coordination project funded by Interreg BSR are managed and coordinated in close cooperation of the three PACs: PAC EE, PAC PL and PAC FI.
The overall strategic management for PACINNO-2 project is organised by PAC FI as the project lead partner. PACs will meet regularly during 2021 (monthly online meetings, and weekly collaboration and communication).

In line with the new EUSBSR action plan requirements, the role of the steering committee will be strengthened and emphasized from 2021 onwards: To disseminate PA INNO/projects’ results, ensure policy impact, and actively contribute in strategic level to goals and new processes, projects and activities promoted in EUSBSR/PA INNO. Minimum three PA INNO SC meetings will be organized in 2021 as online meetings. The new rules of procedure, and composition and tasks of the steering committee according to new EUSBSR action plan will be discussed and agreed on in the first SC meeting in 2021 (including agreement on the rotating chairmanship and the proposed extension of SC with a representation of BSR regions). S3 has been an important policy framework and action topic for PA INNO with many related flagships. At the moment, results of implemented projects are scaled up and the next wave of S3 in BSR prepared in connection with the PA INNO flagship ‘BSR S3 Ecosystem’. Therefore, it is proposed that from 2021 onwards also subregional/local level will be represented in the PA INNO SC (one subregional/local level SC member, annually rotating between a member appointed by CPMR, BSSSC and UBC). Flagship representatives and, when needed, external experts and speakers will be invited to SC meetings to facilitate discussion and to provide presentations and insights.

PA INNO communication and other promotion activities will be implemented (Twitter, PA INNO website, presentations at various relevant EUSBSR, BSR, EU and national events). This is especially important for ensuring the successful launch and visibility for the new EUSBSR action plan and EUSBSR’s/PA INNO’s important role, impact and involvement in the new EU 2021-2027 programmes.

PA INNO works in close cooperation with other EUSBSR Policy Areas (e.g. PA Bioeconomy, PA Transport, PA Hazards, PA Energy, PA Education), and in line with the new EUSBSR action plan, promotes cross-sectoral collaboration and projects. Joint meetings and events are organized especially related to the initiation of new cross-sectoral project initiatives.

PA INNO participates in and contributes actively to joint EUSBSR meetings, joint meetings with other EU macroregional strategies, national EUSBSR meetings, and various BSR and EU-wide events on relevant innovation topics, as well as in PA INNO flagship events, and EUSBSR Annual Forum 2021.


Please follow us on Twitter for frequent updates, and please contact PA INNO coordinators:

Twitter: inno_pa
Esa Kokkonen, esa.kokkonen@tampere.fi
Reet Reismaa, Reet.Reismaa@mkm.ee
Tomasz Jalukowicz, Tomasz.Jalukowicz@mein.gov.pl