Inadequate levels of cooperation betweenthe EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine have resulted in barriers to innovation. One of the major economic and social development policy challenges in these EPCs is how and how fast available research results can be commercialised. Another is how to accelerate and adapt research agendas to actual and future social needs. All EPCs have recognised this bottleneck, and introduced several measures to tackle these challenges. However, the general framework conditions for innovation are typically unfriendly. The EU-funded INNOVER-EAST project bridged the gap between research and innovation, academia and business, and the EU and EPCs in energy efficiency. INNOVER-EAST intensified cooperation between research and business in the targeted EPCs. It developed new skills and competences in innovation services at relevant organisations, and contributed to the learning process on bridging knowledge and business, particularly in energy efficiency. Specifically, the project facilitated networking among actors across the knowledge/innovation value chain in order to better focus research on socioeconomic needs and help exploit research results. It identified bottlenecks of and opportunities for technology and knowledge transfer. The focus was on start-ups, public research organisation spin-offs and existing small businesses. INNOVER-EAST improved competencies and mutual learning by exchanging good practices through twinning and training. It developed and provided innovation support services for EPC stakeholders and nurtured partnerships among relevant organisations in Member States, Associated Countries and EPCs. Lastly, the project engaged in policy dialogue and made recommendations for policymakers. This was done by organising national policy workshops and international policy conferences to debate and validate the needs identified and solutions offered for more efficient innovation services. Innovation, previously given little emphasis as an opportunity for energy efficiency solutions, was brought to the fore by INNOVER-EAST. By fostering collaboration, it introduced new ways to effectively tackle the challenges of energy efficiency in EPCs.
Eastern Partnership countries, innovation, energy efficiency, INNOVER-EAST, knowledge transfer