This site has been archived on
the Pilot Action of Excellence on Innovative Start-ups
Europe Media Information Newsletter
Last update : 27/03/2006

Media information

  • Press releases
    • Innovating Europe : Commission Rewards Six Regions for Successful Transfer of Innovation Schemes | English |
    • EEDA and the NHS announce new enterprise partnership | English |
    • Oxford Bioincubator wins international award | English |
    • New PAXIS initiative | English |
    • Launch seminar European Day of the Entrepreneur | English |
    • The second PAXIS workshop in torino | English |

  PAXIS Backgrounder

The European Commission developed PAXIS so as to take example from the experience of the Regions of Excellence and learn from the sophisticated policies that support their networking activities. This facilitates better documentation of policy decisions and the elaboration of solid measures, which enable regions to be more innovative and competitive, simultaneously transferring their expertise to other regions. Creation of new innovative enterprises, support of spin-off companies and development of start-ups are some of the main policy objectives in both the EU and worldwide. The rich European scientific base needs to be further explored and promoted so as to include European citizens" welfare, developing new ideas for implementation. PAXIS aspires to gather all these ideas and recommendations and through advanced networking and collaboration, make them prolific and accessible.

Frequent Questions & Answers

PAXIS, the Pilot Action of Excellence on Innovative Start-ups, was launched in 1999, following the First European Forum for Innovative Enterprises held in Vienna. This Pilot Action, launched by the European Commission"s Enterprise Directorate-General, has three main priority areas : Thematic Networks , consisting of 22 European cities and regions, Projects designed to validate start-up concepts, and Accompanying Measures , aiming to support PAXIS.

The European Commission"s Enterprise Directorate-General developed PAXIS to take example from the experience of the Regions of Excellence and learn from the outstanding policies that support their networking activities. This facilitates better documentation of policy decisions and the elaboration of solid measures, which enable regions to be more innovative and competitive, simultaneously transferring their expertise to other regions. Creation of new innovative enterprises, support of spin-off companies and development of start-ups are some of the main policy objectives in both the EU and worldwide. PAXIS aspires to gather all these ideas and recommendations and through advanced networking and collaboration, make them prolific and accessible.

1. What are the PAXIS Thematic Networks?
PAXIS has five Thematic Networks, involving Europe"s 22 most innovative regions- the Regions of Excellence- which members analyse and describe their process models in order to encourage and develop start-ups. The results of this work are then shared between all the members of the network who learn from each other and are able to adapt ideas and approaches tried and tested elsewhere. Through this benchmarking exercise, the cross-fertilisation of ideas is continuously developing and adapting a best of breed model for the creation and development of start-ups and is followed by more tangible links between the participating organisations. Similarly, the networks assist players in the field of innovation to make national and international contacts which, in turn, help SMEs access new markets for the products and services, and find international partners and customers.

A newsletter and a web service /paxis with an Intranet have been established to help the day to day networking of these ‘Regions of Excellence" and to promote their success.

2. Which are the five PAXIS Thematic Networks?
The five Thematic Networks and their members are :

  • KREO : Oxford (UK), Karlsruhe-Pforzheim (DE), Lyon-Grenoble (FR) and Emilia-Romagna (I)
  • HIGHEST : Alpes-Maritimes (FR), Helsinki Region (FIN), Torino Area (I), South Sweden (S) and Berlin (DE)
  • SPRING : Stockholm (S), Cambridge (UK), Stuttgart (DE) and Madrid (ES)
  • PANEL : Munich (DE), Milan (I), Barcelona (ES) and Dublin (IR)
  • START : Vienna Region (A), Copenhagen (DEN), Edinburgh (UK), Hamburg (DE) and Veneto Region (I)

The KREO network brings together Oxford, Karlsruhe- Pforzheim, Lyon-Grenoble and Emilia-Romagna, partners with a strong research background, particularly in physics and nuclear research. They all have a strong track record in spinning-off companies from a research base, especially in areas such as biosciences - e.g., drug discovery and drug delivery companies - and physics - e.g., development of new materials.

The HIGHEST network links enterprise organisations in five regions - Alpes-Maritimes, Helsinki, Torino, South Sweden and the city of Berlin, that was selected to join this network in 2001. The partners have worked together in the past and they all specialise in several common sectors such as e-commerce.

The SPRING network comprises Stockholm, Cambridge, Stuttgart and Madrid. Stuttgart was identified in a Eurostat report last year as the high-tech capital of the EU. The report found that high-technology sectors accounted for 23.3% of its total employment. In the past few years Stockholm has experienced a boom in the IT, telecommunications, new media and electronics sectors, and is represented in the network by the Kista Science Park.

Munich, Milan, Barcelona and Dublin have joined forces to form the PANEL network. The three original cities have similar sizes and have similar profiles - none are capital cities but all are the first or second most powerful economic centres in their respective countries. Barcelona is represented by Associació Pla Estratègic Barcelona 2000 which comprises the city authority, the University of Barcelona, and other business and commercial organisations. Milan is represented by the Province of Milans economic development department, while Grüderregio M, an umbrella body bringing together 13 organisations from all business sectors, represents Munich. The organisation was founded in July 1998 to support young entrepreneurs from higher education institutions seeking to set up their own businesses. Dublin, represented by the Trinity College, is going to contribute with specific outstanding approaches stemming from Irish most recent experience in creation of innovative start-ups.

START, the newest of the PAXIS networks. It comprises Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Veneto and Vienna. These five economic areas have started working together and sharing experiences in January 2003. These new comers will contribute to feed new ideas to the PAXIS network.

3. Which are the eligibility criteria to become a member of a network?
To become a member of the network of excellence, three main conditions had to be fulfilled :

  • To be a candidate by submitting a proposal in due form and order to the Commission
  • To fulfil the criteria of excellence established on the basis of a set of statistical indicators and conditions
  • To present an appropriate work programme, declaring availability to participate in a common learning process, sharing experience within a network

To be eligible for the network the regions had to be able to demonstrate the strong support of political authorities. In some cases, the agencies involved are public sector organisations such as regional or municipal authorities. In other instances, regions are represented by intermediary organisations with delegated responsibility from a public authority.

In 2001 some 37 regions applied for the pilot action funding. No proposals were received from 5 EU countries (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal and Greece), and a Norwegian region was the single candidate from Associated Countries. Members of the current network of areas of excellence PAXIS submitted 15 out of the 37 received proposals, and 7 new economic areas had the opportunity to join them as part of the Thematic Network.

The regions were selected mainly according to 24 competitiveness indicators. These included the gross domestic product (GDP) per head, the level of R&D expenditure in the region, the infrastructure available, and the cost of services such as electricity, transport and telecommunications, among others. All the regions had to be acknowledged as excellent at national level. The decision was taken to group the regions into networks of three to five members with the rule that no more than one region from the same country could be in the same network. In some cases the groupings were apparent from the start, with regions which had worked together in the past proposing themselves as a network.

4. What is the Award of Excellence for Innovative Regions?

The Award of Excellence for Innovative Regions was bestowed for the first time to 15 participating regions during the Second European Forum for Innovative Enterprises in Lyon, on 20 November 2000. This formed the basis of a European showcase of innovation, which has had a substantial knock-on effect on all regions, encouraging economic areas to implement similar initiatives which can be adapted to suite their local environment.

“These 15 regions are leading the way in facilitating the creation and the development of innovative enterprises,” said the European Commissioner for Enterprise and Information Society Erkki Liikanen at the ceremony held in Lyon, "they are not the only dynamic regions in Europe but they have surpassed their commitment to Europe and their willingness to cooperate."

In April 8, 2002, 22 regions will receive the second Award of Excellence during the Third Forum for Innovative Enterprises. 15 of these areas were already introduced at Lyon, and the seven new regions selected were: Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Veneto Region and Vienna Region.

This ceremony took place with the presence of Commissioner Liikanen and the crown princess Victoria at the Blue Hall at Stockholm City Hall, famous for hosting the yearly Nobel Prize gala Dinner.

5. What are the PAXIS Projects?

As part of Enterprise Directorates pilot action on the creation of start-ups, the European Commission supports Projects which demonstrate best practice in setting up and developing innovative companies. Universities, research organisations and public sector bodies have been invited to propose Projects for funding and 60 proposals were received. The Projects are funded on a shared-costs basis.
Six large projects have been selected for :

  • Transferring existing, successful concepts on innovative start-up creation to associated candidate countries or
  • Generating new support models for start-up creation


A methodology for the creation of effective seed and venture capital sources for the high-tech industry in Latvia, Estonia and the Slovak Republic by implementing the proven success factors of the Yozma and Technological Incubator Programmes.
The completion of the project will provide identification of those sectors within the NACs that have the potential produce high concentrations of entrepreneurial activity. Analysis of these sectors will then be undertaken in the hope of understanding the particular characteristics and needs of each sector and of identifying the barriers that financial operators may face in investing in innovative start-ups.

Project partners

  • Università degli Studi di Pavia (Italy)
  • National Agency for Development of SMEs (The Slovak Republic)
  • BIC Bratislava (The Slovak Republic)
  • Latvia Development Agency (Latvia)
  • Ernst and Young Latvia
  • Ernst and Young Estonia
  • Enterprise Estonia
  • University of Haifa (Israel)
  • RANAI Ltd. (Israel)

Aiming to create a successful homogeneous methodology of establishing regional programmes to stimulate the promotion of profitable start-ups in five regions of Newly Associated Countries (NACs) through integration with four EU Member State countries that will offer validation and transfer expertise.

The Promotor+ project aims to improve the performance of the start-up market in NACs by promoting co-operation between companies and organisations from 4 Member States, (Spain, Germany, Austria and Greece) and the start-up community in 5 regions in the NACs, (Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria and Slovenia). This collaboration will enable the exchange and subsequent improvement of existing methodologies.
As well as creating conditions for an overall framework for a start-up industry, it is hoped that co-operation between NACs and Member States will introduce ways to set up specific mechanisms such as financing solutions, and to encourage the development of university start-ups, corporate spin-offs and regional clusters.

Project partners

  • CARSA (Spain)
  • Universität des Saarlandes (Germany)
  • Kaernten Technologie GmbH (Austria)
  • Paragon Ltd (Greece)
  • Adam Wickiewiez University Foundation (Poland)
  • Politechnika Wroclawska (Poland)
  • Latvian Technology Centre (Latvia)
  • Sofia University (Bulgaria)
  • Primorski Technology Park (Slovenia)

The project"s aim is to transfer proven and successful university based start-up support schemes to innovative actions in Newly Associated Countries (NACs).
The project aims to transfer existing university based start-up support schemes, having proven their excellence in regional, national and European evaluations, to NACs. Transact will have a strengthening impact on the economic potential and competitiveness amongst the NAC regions, with an aim to improving conditions for the creation and development of new companies.

Project partners

  • Attempto Service GmbH (Germany)
  • Innovation und Bildung Hohenheim GmbH (Germany)
  • Fraunhofer Institut für Systemtechnik und Innovationsforschung (Germany)
  • Universidad Politecnica de Valencia (Spain)
  • Crealys (France)
  • Czech Technical University in Prague (Czech Republic)
  • INNOTECH Innovation Park of the Technical University of Budapest Ltd (Hungary)
  • University of Tartu (Estonia)
  • University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine - Bucharest (Romania)


Aiming to identify complimentary advantages and successful experiences gained from an international consortium of five bio-technology incubators thus enabling the design of a toolkit for best incubation practice that will subsequently be applicable to incubators in other fields of technology.
Biolink"s objective is to enhance start-up creation and development in Europe by designing a Toolkit that will provide users with the information to employ the most effective and efficient practices during the start-up incubation process. It will achieve this by forming an international consortium of five biotechnology incubators, each of which implement different incubation methods.
Both the complementary advantages and the individual experiences of the five incubation processes, along with two successful incubator models from the US, will be analysed with the objective of defining a co-incubation scheme so that start-ups can benefit from the combined expertise of different incubators.

Project partners

  • Oxfordshire BiotechNet (UK)
  • Bio M (Germany)
  • Genopole (France)
  • Jerusalem Biotechnology Center (Israel)
  • Consorzio Ventuno (Italy)
  • University of Wales (UK)
  • Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies (Israel)
  • Hadasit Medical Research Services and Development (Israel)

This Project assists the creation and consolidation of innovative start-ups by integrating and formalising new practices, supplying support services and providing training.
The Tractor project, which is to be implemented in regions within Spain, Sweden, France and Slovenia aims to integrate and formalise the new practices resulting from the creation and development of new innovative enterprises across Europe. The principal objectives are to increase the existing start-up creation rate, thus reducing the gap between Europe and the United States. The success rate of start-ups by the end of the project is targeted at being between 40% and 60%, which would mean making considerable increases from the current rate, which is between 10% and 30%.

Project partners

  • Fundación LABEIN (Spain)
  • LUND University (Sweden)
  • Ecole Supérieure des Technologies Industrielles Avancées – ESTIA (France)
  • BEAZ S.A Business Innovation Centre (Spain)
  • SBDC Small Business Development Centre (Slovenia)

6. What are the PAXIS Accompanying Measures?
The Accompanying Measures are designed to analyse and disseminate PAXIS results and good practices to all interested parties across Europe. Three new Accompanying Measures were appointed in 2002 to support the forthcoming PAXIS II over a period of 42 months.

Accompanying measure 1
AM1 provides a range of communication tools and activities to support the PAXIS pilot action. It will facilitate communication amongst the members of the network through the newsletter, publications, events and the PAXIS web site and support the exchange of knowledge through GOPP-sessions and visiting schemes. The necessary expertise for content, networking and communications is being provided through a consortium of two partners: Saatchi & Saatchi Business Communications (Belgium) and Logotech SA (Greece)

Accompanying measure 2
The ATHENA Accompanying Measure has the key objective of designing and implementing an efficient innovation policy interface, providing a crucial link between the Commission and the start-up community. ATHENA will be co-ordinated by Socintec, a Spanish business and innovation consultancy, and will operate in partnership with a panel of experts selected especially for the project. The five partners of AM2 are Socintec (Spain), Existenzgründerinstitut Berlin (Germany), Metaconsulting (Italy), Foundation for SME Development / University of Durham (UK) and CERAM Sophia Antipolis (France).

Accompanying measure 3
The SUN&SUP Accompanying Measure will bring a new player to the European innovation scene: a double network representing the European start-up community. One network will consist of start-up representatives, the other of start-up service providers. Both networks will work with 15-25 committed representatives. SUN&SUP aims at identifying, analysing and validating regional or infra-regional initiatives contributing to the creation and development of innovative firms. It will also actively involve original schemes from Newly Associated Countries, in order to promote their visibility at European level.

The partners of AM3 are the European Federation of hightech SMEs (Belgium), Logos (Belgium), FSDA (UK), EURADA (Belgium), CICOM (France) and DIVERGENT (France).


The Regions of Excellence

Helsinki Region
South Sweden
Karlsruhe - Pforzheim
Torino Area
Veneto Region
Vienna Region


High resolution PAXIS logos

Click the following link to download the High resolution PAXIS logo

color logo
(510 kb - ziped TIFF CMYK 300 dpi)
color logo
(101 kb - JPEG RGB 300 dpi)

Click the following links to download the High resolution Award of Excellence logo

color logo
(710 kb - jpg CMYK 300 dpi)
black/white logo
(263 kb - jpg Grayscale 300 dpi)