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European Research Executive Agency
News article11 July 2023European Research Executive Agency3 min read

Excellence Hubs: strengthening regional innovation in Widening countries

Find out more about the Excellence Hubs funding opportunity for Widening countries and how to build a successful application for your project.

Discover the Excellence Hubs funding opportunity
(c) European Union, 2023. Image source: Billion Photos, CANVA.

For innovation to happen, multiple players need to join forces, such as academic institutions, business entities, public authorities and societal actors (e.g. civil society organisations, citizens, end users, media, cultural actors etc.). All have the crucial role of keeping a balance between the world’s needs and the end-products of the innovation process. 

This is known as the ‘Quadruple Helix’ model of innovation and collaboration. This innovation model stands at the basis of the Excellence Hubs, an EU-funded action, soon to launch its second ever call for project proposals. 

What are Excellence Hubs? 

Excellence Hubs focus on innovation in Widening countries and beyond. They allow innovation ecosystems to team up and create better connections between academia, business, government and society. To be eligible for Excellence hubs, the coordinator must be from a Widening country however the participants in the project can be from any country associated to the Horizon Europe programme.

The first call for proposals of this action was launched in November 2021, with 13 selected projects and more than EUR 50 million in Horizon Europe funding available. The second call for proposals will open on 28 September 2023, with an overall indicative budget of EUR 60 million. 

Excellence hubs are part of the European Excellence Initiative and complement the science-oriented schemes: Teaming, Twinning, ERA Chairs and the European Excellence Initiative for universities by a dedicated innovation component.  

What you need to know before applying? 

Watch the recording of the latest Horizon Europe info day - WIDERA Work Programme 2023-2024 (the section on Excellence Hubs starts at 2h:26, followed by Q&A), and check the Topic related FAQ that are continuously updated. 

Learn from successful projects: 

SolarHub – A Greek-Turkish Solar Energy Excellence Hub to Advance the European Green Deal

The project highlights the role of renewable energy in combatting climate change. Its main goal is to strengthen connections between five Greek and Turkish solar energy innovation ecosystems, co-developing a Hub Strategy and a Joint Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. By engaging with industry actors, governmental institutions, research institutes and the public, SolarHub will initiate joint research activities and develop four pre-designs of diverse solar energy solutions. For a greater impact, the project will develop relevant research strategies, networking and training opportunities for stakeholders and promote synergies between research infrastructures. 

More about SolarHub 

EXCEL4MED – Excellence hub in green technologies: Introducing innovation ecosystems in the Mediterranean food value chain 

The project is contributing to the Mediterranean food value chain, advocating for the sustainable growth of the agricultural sector, economic growth and job opportunities in rural areas. The EU-funded EXCEL4MED project focuses on innovation ecosystems that produce nutritious food products. Specifically, it will set up a cross-border collaboration between Greek, Maltese and French based organisations, research institutions and governmental bodies, with the aim of reinforcing the region’s food added-value chains. 

More about EXCEL4MED  

BCThubs – Blue Culture Technology Excellence Hubs in EU Widening Member States 

BCThubs is developing blue technologies for Underwater Cultural Heritage (UWCH) sites and assets. The EU-funded project will build R&I capacities in the Blue Economy sector by establishing Blue Culture Technologies (BCT) Excellence Hubs in Greece, Malta and Bulgaria. The project will provide BCT Excellence Hubs with new innovative solutions and products. Each Excellence Hub engages actors related to Blue Culture and UWCH, reinforcing their capacities and effectiveness towards raising the innovation excellence in sustainable Blue Economy/Culture, in line with regional or national strategies. 

More about BCThubs 

Excellence hubs to boost your innovation

The funding programme can not only help you and your project evolve and actively innovate, but it can also guide you to find valuable allies in the public or private sector or amongst NGOs or other societal actors. Check out the partner search announcements for details. 

For more information on how to submit your proposals, look into the Work Programme 2023-2024 and the Funding & Tenders portal. Keep in mind that the Excellence Hubs call opens on 28 September 2023 and will close 7 March 2024. 


Publication date
11 July 2023
European Research Executive Agency