The EU has nine Outermost Regions (ORs): Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Saint Martin, Réunion, Mayotte; the Canary Islands; and the Azores and Madeira. ORs are an integral part of EU territory but, as Article 349 TFEU recognizes, they differ from the rest of the EU due to their remoteness, their insularity, their small size, their adverse topographical and climatic conditions and their dependence on a limited number of local industries. ORs' participation in Horizon 2020 is inhibited by the fragmentation of the research community due to the geographic isolation but also lack of commitment of research institutions and missing connectivity with excellent partners in Europe and internationally beyond the traditional links with the European mainland of the same country. Therefore, the potential for excellent research activities based on the above described assets remains largely unexploited. The overall objective of the FORWARD project is to improve ORs' excellence in research and their innovation potential to improve their participation in EU research and innovation funded projects and link research activities with territorial development. The project commits the regional governments from the nine ORs in charge of R&I regional policies together with key R&I actors from each region. FORWARD will perform an initial analysis of R&I ecosystems and, based on these results, it will put in place tailored actions including definition of joint strategy and thematic action plans, capacity building and networking activities, and approaches for connecting research and policy-making. Based on a multi-actor, multidisciplinary and cross-sectorial approach, the project will also support the collaboration and networking among representatives of the quadruple helix (university, industry, government and civil society) at regional level and with their counterparts from EU Members States and Third Countries.