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Specific objective

The specific objective is to fully exploit the potential of Europe's talent pool and to ensure that the benefits of an innovation-led economy are both maximised and widely distributed across the Union in accordance with the principle of excellence.
Despite a recent tendency for the innovation performances of individual countries and regions to converge, sharp differences among Member States still remain. Furthermore, by putting national budgets under constraint, the current financial crisis is threatening to widen gaps. Exploiting the potential of Europe's talent pool and maximising and spreading the benefits of innovation across the Union is vital for Europe's competitiveness and its ability to address societal challenges in the future.

Rationale and Union added value

In order to progress towards a sustainable, inclusive and smart society, Europe needs to make the best use of the intelligence that is available in the Union and to unlock untapped R&I potential.
By nurturing and connecting pools of excellence, the activities proposed will contribute to strengthening the ERA.

Broad lines of the activities

Specific actions will facilitate the spreading of excellence and widening of participation through the following actions:
— Teaming of excellent research institutions and low performing RDI regions
aiming at the creation of new (or significant upgrade of existing) centres of excellence in low performing RDI Member States and regions.
— Twinning of research institutions
aiming at significantly strengthening a defined field of research in an emerging institution through links with at least two internationally-leading institutions in a defined field.
— Establishing ‚ERA Chairs’
to attract outstanding academics to institutions with a clear potential for research excellence, in order to help these institutions fully unlock this potential and hereby create a level playing field for research and innovation in the ERA. Possible synergies with ERC activities should be explored.
— A Policy Support Facility
to improve the design, implementation and evaluation of national/regional research and innovation policies.
— Supporting access to international networks for excellent researchers and innovators who lack sufficient involvement in European and international networks, including COST.
— Strengthening the administrative and operational capacity of transnational networks of National Contact Points, including through training, so that they can provide better support to potential participants.