Tools have been created by the 'Improving the research capacity of the Institute of Materials Research in Kosice' (Improving) initiative to enhance research at the Institute of Materials Research of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (IMR SAS). The initiative will help boost the institute's contribution to regional economic and social development through advances in the fields of nanomaterials and new technologies. Improving will also facilitate participation in the EU's Seventh Framework Programme and other international projects. Success has been achieved through the use of an international independent expert evaluation of the quality of research conducted at IMR SAS and the resulting action plan for improving research capacity. The independent panel of experts visiting the site have met with local authorities to discuss the benefits the institute has provided to the region. The resulting report has highlighted the quality of the management and the institute's research capacity. Scientists from the institute have visited similar institutes across Europe in order to exchange knowledge and experience on how best to implement the experts' recommendations in the action plan. Improved research, education and innovation activities at IMR SAS as a result of the project have benefited the transfer of knowledge to industry and increased the level of investment in the region. This will help develop the knowledge economy in the region of east Slovakia.