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Stimulating Experimentation Practices

Target group(s): Innovators, research and technological organisations, national and regional authorities, European Institute of Innovation and Technology Knowledge and Innovation Communities (EIT KICs), Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, regulators and other government bodies, non-government organisations (NGOs), and other civil society organisations.

Regulation creates the essential conditions that enable innovation to thrive, providing a general framework for finance and funding, intellectual property rights, rules for competition, and consumer protection. However, sometimes regulation lags behind technological developments, leading to situations where disruptive technologies could potentially render regulations obsolete, or be perceived as a barrier that hampers the deployment of emerging technologies.

Due to this complex relationship between regulation and innovation, which varies on a case-by-case basis, it is important to ensure that disruptive innovations are tested in close cooperation not only with regulatory actors, but also end-users themselves. This would allow innovators to receive societal feedback before potential mass deployment, and regulators to create a flexible framework that takes into account the evolving nature of disruptive technologies.

In line with the New European Innovation Agenda[[A New European Innovation Agenda, COM(2022) 332 final.]], it is acknowledged that framework conditions, including regulations, can drive or thwart the development and uptake of innovative new products and processes. To that extent, regulatory frameworks that facilitate experimentation by innovators and enable learning and adaptation by regulators appear to be essential in order to nurture breakthrough innovations. Moreover, it would be substantial to gain knowledge from distinct approaches taken forward across European Union (EU) Member States in order to clarify options at the disposal of innovators and regulators to facilitate such experimentation.

Applicants should identify an area where innovative technologies emerge, justifying why experimentation in this area is essential to facilitate the development of a specific technology or innovative solution. Moreover, the applicants should closely cooperate with innovators who have identified fields where the deployment of innovation is hampered. Specifically, proposals should attempt to identify areas where innovative ideas need to be tested in a physical or virtual environment in order to be trialled in real- or near-real world conditions to assess their market viability and where:

  • Innovative ideas are under development but are hampered by existing regulations; or
  • Innovative ideas are under development in areas which remain unregulated.

This action is expected to support policy makers in their aim to enable, promote and support transformative innovation by utilising the different experimentation frameworks/spaces (such as regulatory sandboxes, living labs, and test beds), and recognise what could be implemented or not.

After the identification of the area and technology for experimentation, each proposal should put forward an action plan aiming to set up an experimentation space to examine the potential of a particular innovative solution. This could be possibly linked to relevant smart specialisation strategies. The action plan will also articulate which experimentation framework is considered the most appropriate to address the possible challenges in relation to the identified technology.

As a final step, each consortium will set up the experimentation space proposed in the action plan. The development of the experimentation space would lead to the identification of potential legal, regulatory, fiscal, technical and operational pre-requisites or barriers helping policy makers to foster further innovation.

The proposals should focus on the following activities:

  • The identification of areas and the presentation of concrete topics where experimentation could facilitate the deployment of disruptive technologies by establishing a regulatory sandbox, living lab or, test bed;
  • Awareness-raising and enhanced knowledge on the existing experimentation frameworks for testing innovation;
  • Identify and scale up best practice examples of regulatory sandboxes, living labs, and test beds;
  • Interconnect innovators with organisations that set up and promote experimentation activities;
  • An action plan which will elaborate on how to implement a regulatory sandbox or living lab or test bed in order to examine the potential of an emerging technology;
  • Creation or utilisation of networking and coordination structures and tools to facilitate innovation development and access to and sharing of best practices, resources, talents, markets, expertise, services and knowledge, including open and collaborative knowledge bases and common knowledge assets (methods, data, processes);
  • Establishment of an experimentation space or cooperation with existing services in the identified priority area which will provide a technology assessment base line for future developments of the technology being tested;
  • Clarify the usage of existing and the assignment of newly created intellectual property rights.

Proposals may build on or seek collaboration with existing projects of EIT KICs in the area of innovation testing such as those related to demonstrators/test beds/living labs or other EIT KICs real-life experimentation environment activities.