EU Cohesion Policy: €120 million call for urban innovation projects

EU Cohesion Policy helps innovating our cities. The European Urban Initiative (EUI) is launching today a second call for proposals worth €120 million for innovative projects that should develop and test new solutions to tackling current urban challenges.

The call looks for projects that trigger true transformation in cities, generate investments and inspire others.

The projects must focus on one of the following three priorities:

  • Greening Cities – to experiment with and deliver tangible innovative solutions for green and blue infrastructures, addressing biodiversity, pollution, and climate challenges;
  • Sustainable tourism – to trigger long-term green and digital transformation, resilience and sustainability in the tourism sector. This could be achieved by diversifying tourism products, seeking a positive impact on local communities and the environment, fostering social inclusion and social innovation, and improving connections with smaller areas and towns;
  • Harnessing talent in shrinking cities – placed-based and integrated pilot projects to test new solutions to retain and attract talents. This could be achieved by involving local communities and addressing the economic, social and environmental dimensions caused by the demographic transition.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will finance 80% of the cost of selected projects. Each project can receive up to €5 million. Part of this funding will support the transfer of innovative solutions to other cities in Europe to ensure an even bigger impact, especially in cities and regions most in need of sustainable urban transformation. For that, supported urban authorities will set up transfer partnerships with three other cities to replicate the projects.

The call is open to all EU cities individually or as a group. Interested applicants are invited to register to information seminars and other meetings scheduled in the coming weeks. Details will be available on the EUI website.

The deadline for applications is 5 October 2023.


EUI has already launched a first call for proposals in October 2022 in support of the New European Bauhaus. 99 applications from 21 Member States were submitted. The winners for this call will be announced in June.

With a dedicated ERDF budget of €450 million, the EUI is a new instrument supporting the urban dimension of Cohesion Policy in 2021-2027. In the programming period 2021-2027, a minimum of 8% of the ERDF resources in each Member State must be invested in priorities and projects selected by cities themselves and based on their own sustainable urban development strategies.

Beyond innovation, the EUI supports the capacities of all urban areas across Europe. It provides evidence for policymaking and sharing knowledge on sustainable urban development, including via the Urban Agenda for the EU.

The EUI is managed by the Commission and the French Region Hauts-de-France. It builds on the Urban Innovative Actions of the 2014-2020 programming period, but has an even stronger focus on urban innovation, sustainability, and replicability in other cities.