Innovation Ecosystems in the EU: Policy Evolution and Horizon Europe Proposal Case Study (the Actors’ Perspective)

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At the European Union (EU) level, innovation matter is acknowledged as crucial for progress and sustainability. Related policy action is materialized through Horizon Europe, the 9th Framework Program (FP) for research and development (R&D). The present 8th FP, Horizon 2020, is already considered the biggest public innovation support program in the world. Accordingly, the 9th FP is a cornerstone of innovation ecosystems configuration in the EU and, thus, should be carefully evaluated. In this paper, the analysis of the forthcoming FP proposal is made and a previously developed framework for the structural advancement assessment of innovation ecosystems was applied. The Actor’s viewpoint from the “innovation helix” is especially advantageous for a thorough evaluation. In conclusion, the Horizon Europe proposal does take into account the knowledge triangle or triple helix (Academia, Government, Industry) with “tacit”, however not very explicit, commitment towards complementing Society and Natural Environment dimensions. The process perspective of innovation is highlighted, particularly in terms of overcoming the “valley of death”; nevertheless, private innovation financing levels are still a matter of concern. If the sustainability is to be achieved, consistently allowing for socioecological transformation, authors recommend the orchestration of efforts, especially in the involvement of Society and implication in innovation, as well as in the Natural Environment orientation.