European Institute of Innovation and Technology

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European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)
European Institute of Innovation and Technology logo.png
Established 11 March 2008
Mission increase European sustainable growth and competitiveness
Focus innovation and entrepreneurship
President Martin Kern (Interim Director)
Chairman Peter Olesen (Governing Board)
Budget €2.7 billion for 2014–2020
Location European Union Budapest (headquarters) and across the EU countries
Website eit.europa.eu

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) is a body of the European Union which was established on 11 March 2008.[1] It was set up in order to "address Europe's innovation gap",[2] and is the EU's flagship Institute designed to integrate innovation, research and growth across the European Union. The idea of a European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) was developed within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs, and has been specifically implemented to address Europe's innovation shortcomings. It is based on the concept that innovation is a key driver of growth, competitiveness, and social well-being. The EIT headquarters are in Budapest, Hungary.

The EIT’s mission is to increase European sustainable growth and competitiveness, reinforce the innovation capacity of the EU Member States, and create the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and prepare for the next innovative breakthroughs. The Institute creates an unprecedented level of collaboration between innovation and excellence centres with the aim of boosting the innovation process from idea to product, from lab to market, and from student to entrepreneur.

The EIT is the first EU initiative to fully integrate all three sides of the Knowledge Triangle (higher education, research and business) by way of so-called Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). The integration of all three sides and the effective transmission and sharing of knowledge, information and skills for joint exploitation is crucial to delivering the jobs and growth opportunities that Europe is seeking, as excellent researchers, students and entrepreneurs working in isolation are much less efficient in delivering the results needed and wanted by the market and consumers. By connecting European business and research, businesses stand to gain as they will be given fresh opportunities to commercialise the most up-to-date and relevant research findings, with the aim of giving Europe first-mover advantage in the latest technological and non-technological fields as well as in open innovation. In return, research organisations will benefit from additional resources, an enhanced networking capacity, and new research perspectives stressing interdisciplinary approaches in areas with strong societal and economic importance. By adding higher education into the mix, businesses will be able to take advantage of a workforce with skills tailored to their needs able to drive their market share forwards; and students will benefit from an education that will make them more attractive to future employers and also more apt at contributing to the development of those employers’ businesses.[3]

The EIT strongly contributes to the objectives set out in Horizon 2020,[4] in particular by addressing societal challenges in a manner that is complementary to other initiatives in these areas.

History and background[edit]

Concept[edit]

The initial concept for a European Institute of Technology was based on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is renowned for its combination of world-class education, research, and deep engagement in effective innovation processes.[5] In its proposal for an EIT, the European Commission put forward a two-level structure that combines a bottom-up and top-down approach—a governance structure. The proposal of the Commission was based on the results of a wide public consultation taking more than 700 contributions by experts and the general public, and various stakeholder position papers into account. It was clear that Europe could and must do much better at innovation. Although some European education and research institutions are excellent, today they are isolated from the business world and do not work together to create market-driven solutions and innovation. Ján Figel', the former European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, stated that "Europe consistently falls short in turning R&D results into commercial opportunities, innovations, and jobs".

The knowledge triangle

The Commission identified five specific areas of concern:

  • Translating R&D results into commercial opportunities
  • Reaching a critical mass in certain fields
  • Fragmentation of the EU’s research and higher education system
  • Lack of innovation and entrepreneurial culture in research and higher education
  • Lack of a critical mass in small- and medium-sized enterprises

The answer to these issues would focus on integrating the three sides of the so‑called "Knowledge Triangle": higher education, research, and business sectors. The concept of the EIT has been controversial since the proposal of EC president José Manuel Barroso and considered challenging.[6]

As of 21 January 2008, it appeared that the EIT project would mainly operate by building networks of business, pre-existing universities and research organisations, without building any new education or research Institution and without granting EU diplomas.[7]

Establishment[edit]

The EIT was officially established on 11 March 2008 following the adoption of the EIT Regulation [1] by the European Parliament and Council. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso stated: "I am delighted with this decisive step forward towards establishing the EIT. The EIT is set to become an important feature of Europe's innovation landscape. It will facilitate and enhance partnerships and cooperation between the worlds of business, research and higher education across the European Union, thereby helping to continue to boost jobs and growth in Europe in the future." [8]

Funding[edit]

Public funds[edit]

An initial community budget contribution of €308.7 million has helped launch and will continue to support the EIT network during the 2008–2013 period. It will provide the support structure and the conditions necessary for integrated knowledge transfer and networking. In turn, in order to profit from the considerable returns which the initiative is likely to generate, businesses will be expected to buy into the EIT and be willing to lead the way in the unleashing of Europe's innovation potential. The ET acts as an "innovation impact investor" via its Knowledge and Innovation Communities. Thus, the allocation from the EU budget is used for the most part to provide financial support to the Knowledge and Innovation Communities and to develop EIT activities and outcomes.

The annual grant to the Knowledge and Innovation Communities is allocated on a competitive basis and may not exceed 25% of the KICs’ global expenditure. The remainder of the KICs’ budget must be raised from other sources of financing.

EIT Foundation[edit]

In addition to public funding via the EU budget, the EIT aims to attract private sector funds for its activities. In order to attract and channel such funding, the EIT Foundation has been set up with the sole aim of promoting and supporting the EIT's activities. The Foundation will be used as a vehicle to channel philanthropic contributions such as donations or bequests. It aims to commence its fundraising activities towards the end of 2011.

Organization and activities[edit]

Governing Board and management[edit]

The EIT Governing Board brings together 15 members balancing prominent expertise from the higher education, research, business and innovation fields. It consists of 12 appointed members and 3 representative members as well as one independent observer from the European Commission.[9] The management team is based at the EIT Headquarters in Budapest. It is in charge of monitoring the activities of the KICs, building and strengthening relationships with key stakeholders both in Europe and beyond, disseminating KIC results, share knowledge, and maintain close links with other EU bodies with a view to ensure, implement, and develop the EIT strategy.

Knowledge and innovation communities[edit]

The EIT achieves its mission by fully integrating all three sides of the ‘knowledge triangle’, i.e. higher education, research and business, in Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs). By bringing together leading players from all these dimensions to cooperate within the KICs, the EIT is able to promote innovation in Europe. The EIT Governing Board designated the first three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) in December 2009. These KICs have the objective to integrate education, research and innovation (the so-called Knowledge Triangle) in one common organisation. The EIT finances the KICs with a maximum of 25% of the total budget. While the EIT´s Headquarters are situated in Budapest (Hungary), the EIT is not concentrated in one campus as a traditional institute, instead operating through the KICs. Each of the KICs operates across a number of hubs called ‘co-location centres’ and there are currently 19 co-location centres spread across Europe.[10]

The former European Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture and Youth, Ján Figel', noted that "the unique feature of the EIT is that it brings excellence in enterprise, research, and higher education together, to maximise potential synergies and cross-fertilisation of ideas from all parts of the 'knowledge triangle'". In order to create conceptual frameworks for the management of the KICs, the European Commission sponsored pilot projects under the name of Knowledge triangle. These projects reported first concepts on how to align different partners but have also reported on the complexity of the task to build common ground and common rules that are the basis of a joint organisation and legal entity. It will require a high level of trust among the partners, well-designed organizational structures and lean management structures with intelligent performance indicator systems to make the KICs successful.[11]

Climate change[edit]

Climate-KIC[12]

  • Assessing climate change and managing its drivers
  • Transitioning to resilient, low-carbon cities
  • Advancing adaptive water management
  • Developing zero-carbon production systems

Sustainable Energy[edit]

KIC InnoEnergy[13]

  • Need of new technologies for sustainable energy and a climate-neutral Europe
  • New energy products

Information technology[edit]

EIT ICT Labs[14]

  • Turning Europe into a global leader in ICT Innovation
  • Smart Spaces: exploitation of information in various every day environments
  • Smart Energy Systems: focusing on innovation driven by ICT
  • Health and Well-being: improve the quality of life through the development of ICT-enabled services
  • Digital Cities of the Future: democratic city space through a citizen-centric model
  • Future Media and Content Delivery: addressing the challenges of bringing media and content to the consumer
  • Intelligent Mobility and Transportation Systems

Education and entrepreneurship[edit]

The EIT also focuses on the implementation of education and entrepreneurship programmes. It will encourage higher education institutions to focus on developing innovative curricula that encourage more entrepreneurship, creativity, and leadership.

Location[edit]

Headquarters[edit]

The EIT Headquarters [15] are located in Budapest, Hungary, in 11th district's Neumann Janos utca (Infopark, Budapest Science park).

On 18 June 2008, Budapest, Hungary, was chosen by the EU nations to host the headquarters of the institute.[5][16] The Hungarian government welcomed the agreement and said it was a great success for the country.

Five bidders had entered the race for the EIT seat, including Budapest; Wroclaw, Poland; Sant Cugat del Vallès near Barcelona, Spain; Jena, Germany; and a joint bid from Bratislava, Slovakia, and Vienna, Austria. According to president Barroso, these applications were evidence of "the strategic and economic interest attached...to this ambitious project".

When the EU research ministers came together at the end of May, the decision had to be postponed because Poland vetoed the otherwise unanimously backed city of Budapest as the EIT seat. Yet, the ministers had agreed on the selection criteria, namely that the seat should be in one of the new Member States and it should be in a Member State that does not currently have a European agency or institute. Among the five bidders, only Budapest met those requirements. The President Barroso congratulated Hungary on its achievement: "This is also the result of Hungary's long tradition in excellence in education, research and innovation. Setting the EIT in Budapest represents a flagship for excellence in the knowledge triangle."

Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs)[edit]

The labs (Knowledge and Innovation Communities) are established all across Europe (the European Union and Switzerland) in co‑location centres.

  • The KIC on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption: (Climate-KIC) has co‑location centres in London, UK; Zurich, Switzerland; Berlin, Germany; Paris, France; and Randstad, Netherlands.
  • The KIC on the Future Information and Communication Society (EIT ICT Labs) has co‑location centres in Berlin, Germany; Eindhoven, Netherlands; Helsinki, Finland; Paris, France; Sophia Antipolis, France; Stockholm, Sweden and Trento, Italy.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Official websites

Official communication

Media reports

Video